If the reader will recall, President Obama came under fire in March 2012 when, during a meeting in Seoul, South Korea, he told outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to inform his successor (Vladimir Putin) that he would have “more flexibility” after the November election to address the contentious issue of European missile defense to Russia’s liking. The statement was picked up by a microphone neither leader knew was on at the time. Those who took exception to Obama’s comments were concerned with the president both telegraphing political weakness to the Russian government as well as his duplicity in deferring the issue until such time as he no longer had to answer to American voters.
With regard to the tenuous standoff currently taking place – the European Union, Ukraine and the U.S. versus Russia – forget for the moment Russian president Vladimir Putin’s alleged desires to restore the Soviet Union to its former dubious glory, or to become “Supreme czar of all the Russias.” Forget Russia’s arguably valid concerns over an ultra-nationalist, Nazi-influenced ascendant regime in Ukraine and the arguably strategically sound measures Putin has taken in light of the uprisings there. Finally, let us set aside the plausible argument that Putin, Obama and EU leaders are, as some have suggested, acting out scenes in a play whose final act will solidify the power of global elites for all time.
For the moment, let us examine President Obama’s hand in the Ukraine crisis and the failures both strategic and diplomatic that, in my view, ought to relegate all of the subsequent bluster to fodder for stand-up comedy.
Apart from military entanglements, the chief ostensible concern among U.S. and EU leaders is the result of Europe having allowed itself to become reliant on natural gas they receive from Russia by way of Crimea, the long-disputed territory and strategic seaport recently annexed by Russia. With Russia in direct control of the flow of natural gas, obviously any political tension between Europe and the Russian Federation could dramatically affect both the comfort and the economy of Europeans.
This is not an irrational fear. As we were reminded last month by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Putin’s incursion into Crimea and his Ukraine policy speaks to a pattern of behavior he established with the invasion of Georgia in 2008, which did in fact employ “energy blackmail” to secure Georgia’s capitulation. Following highly criticized economic sanctions imposed by the EU and the U.S. following Russia’s Crimea invasion, Putin could conceivably cripple the European economy by slowing or cutting off gas in retaliation for said sanctions. Germany, for example, receives 30 percent of the natural gas it uses via the Crimean peninsula. According to the New York Times, “about 53 percent of Russian gas exports to Europe pass through Ukraine. Europe, in turn, depends on Russia for 40 percent of its imported fuel.”
The New York Times also reported on March 5 of this year that “Although Russia is still the world’s biggest exporter of natural gas, the United States recently surpassed it to become the world’s largest natural gas producer, largely because of breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology, known as fracking.”
In America, the political left utilizes the environmental lobby to curtail use of these technologies in order to dampen economic growth in the U.S., so they have managed to slow natural gas drilling for domestic use. However, many congressional Republicans and major oil and gas producers (according to the Times) saw the Ukraine crisis as an opportunity to utterly neutralize Putin’s advantage over the EU, as well as make a killing through selling natural gas to Europe.
But Obama didn’t play that card, and he is unlikely to. Why? Because (discounting the entire crisis being a scripted precursor to global economic collapse, World War III, or both) Obama has no interest whatever in allaying tensions in Europe or in improving the economic situation in the United States. Despite the fact that it would make him look like a hero at home and abroad, it would be admittedly counterintuitive for him to do so when he’s spent the last six years fomenting tensions globally and relentlessly tearing our economy down.
In the name of chaos, Obama will forgo accolades as well as the opportunity to actually be of service to millions of people.
So while diplomats were bleating about sanctions against Russia and the new thug government in Ukraine was petitioning the Obama administration for military support (in addition to the $5 billion-plus they’ve already received in economic aid), very few even seriously examined the “gas for peace” strategy.
And why are none of the GOP power players advancing this option? Well, there’s little doubt that some are pursuing this tack, those who are pragmatic or who might stand to gain through their energy industry connections. Then, there are those who are simply playing their parts in this tragic comedy – big-government elites whose agenda falls more into line with Obama’s than it does that of the average American. They won’t publicly fault Obama for failing to do so because of their already demonstrated political risk aversion (read cowardice). Congress has largely backed the administration’s support for the new government in Ukraine, despite its odious political philosophy, and the entire affair has been shot through with corruption and transparent, impotent posturing on the part of our government.
So, Obama has failed again, but once again it wasn’t due to ineptitude. Chalk up another apparent bungle to Obama’s calculation, the goal of which still remains inconceivable to so many Americans.
It sounds even more inconceivable when you say it out loud: A president whose intent is to literally destroy the United States of America? Inconceivable.
This doesn’t make it any less accurate, of course.
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