Friday, March 28, 2014

Obama rhetoric again, to what purpose

It is reported that today on "CBS this morning" President Obama called on Russia "to pull back its troops immediately" from the Ukrainian border in order to reduce tensions, de-escalate the situation, and lay the groundwork for negotiations.  I am sure that Putin is eager to be seen as accommodating such a U.S. demand.  That's not true.  I am in fact sure that Putin will be more adamantly opposed to acting on such a request after hearing it.

Could Obama have simply demanded that Russia work to put conditions in place to stabilize relations with the West and with Ukraine, and address the takeover by Russia of Crimea.  That would not appease Putin but it also would not incite him to stonewall the process.  The guess here it that Obama's words were more harmful than helpful. 

Obama's take on diplomacy is muddled.  It is unclear whether it is a reflection of his lack of maturity in dealing with foreign affairs or the absence of experienced and candid advisers to him in the State Department, Defense Department, or in the West Wing.  Does he listen to anyone?  Today's remarks suggest that he trusts his own intelligence and intuition to be the best guide available.

There is no question here that what Obama suggests is the best way forward.  The question is how to achieve it.


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