Thursday, March 27, 2014

Obama's Hollow Threats: A Failure To Grasp Geopolitics – As He Defends Iraq War

"The vast human cataclysms of the 20th century will not likely repeat themselves. But the worldwide civil society that the elites thought they could engineer is a chimera. The geographical forces at work will not be easily tamed.......In geopolitics the past never dies and there is no modern world." - Robert Kaplan, in 'Old World Order', TIME, March 31, p. 35.

When a New York Times editorial takes you to task for over the top and antagonistic rhetoric you know you’re off the beam as a President. The Editorial (‘A Tortured Policy Towards Russia’) noted:

THE United States has once again twisted itself into a rhetorical pretzel. As when it threatened military action against Syria if a “red line” was crossed, the Obama administration’s rhetoric about Russia and Ukraine goes far beyond what it will be willing and able to enforce. “

It went on to point out:
Washington’s rhetoric is dangerously excessive, for three main reasons: Ukraine is far more important to Vladimir V. Putin than it is to America; it will be hard for the United States and Europe to make good on their threats of crippling sanctions; and other countries could ultimately defang them”.
All of which I wholeheartedly agree with.  And yet what do we behold Obama doing yesterday? Well,  continuing with his offal and hollow, belligerent rhetoric denouncing the “brute force” he said Russia used to intimidate neighbors like Ukraine and vowing that the United States “will never waver” in standing up for its NATO allies against aggression by Moscow.”   Of course, he knows as his incompetent aides do as well, that he can never ever back that up without being willing to have a nuclear war. Does he? I doubt it.
In a speech clearly written by Robert Kagan or some other Neocon idiot-  evident by its lack of intelligence and puerile bombast  -   Obama dismissed Russian justifications for its intervention in Ukraine point by point, as “absurd” or unmerited.  He also used the Neoliberal media trope that Russia was “re-drawing borders” totally oblivious to the geopolitics of the issue. To remind readers, geopolitics is basically the “battle for space and power played out in a geographical setting” (TIME, ‘Old World Order’, March 31, p. 32).
As the TIME piece adds: “This is a concept that hasn’t changed since antiquity yet one which to which too many Western diplomats  and academics have lately seemed deaf.”
The reason for that is that these “diplomats” and “academics” (sic) have tried to lend urgency and memetic superiority to the Neoliberal “New World Order” which purported to organize the 21st century according to economic arrangements, financial and trade agreements and abstract unions. The problem is that the reality of geography (and ethnicity)  trumps this hyper-bullshit for most humans, and in the case of Ukraine  (ibid.): “its very geography makes it nearly impossible to orient itself entirely toward the West.”  It is IN Russia’s sphere of influence, holds its most strategic sea port and hence there was no doubt Russia would claim it if the Neoliberal West pushed its advantage too hard – with expansion of NATO. Hence, Russia has far more invested in controlling this geography than the U.S. and would fight to the death to preserve its hegemony. Meanwhile, the U.S. has no business meddling, period.
This is grasped even by Mikhail Gorbachev, he who advocated originally for the New World Order (allowing the Soviet Union to break up), but saw successive U.S. Presidents break their promise not to expand NATO.  No wonder as TIME noted (‘Morning After in Crimea’, p. 12, Gorbachev- when asked his opinion of Putin’s actions on the eve of the referendum- pointedly noted that “Putin should not stop at Crimea but take all of southern Ukraine”.  Which makes sense from a geopolitical viewpoint given that otherwise Crimea is cut off from Russian supply lines, roads, etc.  Gorbachev emphasized this geopolitical view when he said (ibid.)
In essence, southern Ukraine is just like Crimea. Its population is Russian. It was civilized by Russians.”
Does Obama get any of this? Clearly not.  Incredibly,  this guy even defended aspects of the Iraq war, which he had opposed as a junior senator, as a stark contrast to the way Russia has seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. One’s mind must boggle at this incomprehensible turnaround but of course Obama watchers have seen it before – many times- altering positions and policies from what he stoutly proclaimed in campaign mode. It’s almost becoming a pattern like a broken record.  So, we weren't terribly surprised when he  said:

But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead we ended our war, and left Iraq to it people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decision about its own future.”

Of course, this is firstly devoid of any basic grasp of GEOPOLITICS!  Iraq, at over 6,000 miles distant from the U.S. - posed no remote geographical security interest or threat - unlike the Ukraine and NATO's incursion does for the Russians. Iraq was perpetrated purely out of bogus WMD bullshit hatched by a rat nicknamed "Curve ball". ON that basis, and because Saddam once made some vague threats about Pappy Bush, a full scale assault was launched that eventually cost hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions in treasure.

 Thus the Iraq War was indefensible as well as illegal from the get go, irrespective of whether the U.S. claimed one city, or one sand berm. The  truth is that the legitimate "international system" condemned the Iraq invasion and occupation since it violated Principle VI of the Nuremberg laws - the crimes against peace, and pre-emptive war.   Instead of contorting himself into such ridiculous positions to try to justify a verbal attack on Russia, he’d do better to watch and listen to the young Senator’s opposition to that disgusting pre-emptive war which imitated the Nazi invasion of Poland.  Meanwhile, Russia’s occupation of the Crimea was actually justified by a 1997  treaty with the Ukraine, which allowed a limit of 25,000 troops.

Obama - in his spiel yesterday- even conceded the U.S. itself has NO geopolitical stake in Ukraine:

"To be honest, if we define our interests narrowly, if we applied a cold hearted calculus, we might decide to look the other way. Our economy is not deeply integrated with Ukraine’s. Our people and our homeland face no direct threat from the invasion of Crimea.   Our own borders are not threatened by Russia’s annexation"

But he then bloviated that, oh we just had to get involved and be the Cop of the World, because "casual indifference would ignore the lessons that are written in the cemeteries of this continent."

Clearly, it appears Obama’s brain has been hijacked by the neocons and their disreputable endless war narrative. Where we once held out hope he’d rise to the level of a transformative President – like Kennedy did after the Cuban Missile Crisis – it is now evident Obama has regressed to his mean over the past 6 years.  The only difference now is his use of belligerent, antagonistic rhetoric when calm, thoughtful,  dispassionate response is sorely needed.  To repeat the words of Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.) on Chris Hayes’ ALL In show two weeks ago:

“This is not something that anybody needs. Not the West, not Russia, not the world, There needs to be an end to the polemics, as you showed from people like John McCain, an end of the passion, an end to the punditry, and a solution.”

Unlike Obama and the Neoliberal and neocon imps and lackeys in his administration, Col. Wilkerson proposed an actual pragmatic geopolitical solution: making Ukraine a buffer state between NATO and Russia which is a reasonable solution.  As he went on to point out –from the transcript:

Ukraine needs to be the buffer state. Crimea needs to be exactly where it is, with Russia - where it's been for over three hundred and fifty years, and we need to stop the passionate statements and get down to business and work this out. We don't need a war."
Meanwhile, Obama continued on from his intemperate remarks the day before,  as if he’s begging for a war, asserting (New York Times, March 30 headline story, 'Obama Renewing U.S. Commitment to NATO'):
We have to make sure that we have put together very real contingency plans for every one of these members, including those who came in out of Central and Eastern Europe. And over the last several years we have worked up a number of these contingency plans.”
More worrisome, and disclosing that the neocons have seriously egged him into rash, provocative actions, the NY Times (op. cit.) reported that:
The United States has already sent an extra six F-15C Eagles and 60 airmen to Lithuania and 12 F-16 fighter jets and 200 service members
And the provocations are likely to worsen, as the  NY TIMES continued, noting:

Aides said the president would bolster that presence by rotating more ground and naval troops for exercises and training in Poland and the Baltic countries; update contingency planning for specific countries and update NATO’s threat assessment in the region; and increase the capacity of a NATO quick-response force.

Sadly, we don’t know where this will end or how. We had expected the sober and pragmatic  response of a statesman and someone who could work with Russia in a serious way –  predicated on  feasible geopolitical solutions as opposed to Pax Americana fantasies. But it appears the neocons in Obama’s administration have had the last laugh in turning him into one of them (even accepting THEIR IRAQ WAR!) 
Even if they don’t get a new war with the Russians, the damage to the cooperative relationship with Putin appears permanent. And Mr. Putin is the key to keeping further wars in Syria and Iran from igniting.
This rending of the cooperative agreement may have been what the neocons likely  wanted all along, which is bad enough. One thing I can say I never thought I’d see is Obama turning into a neocon! Though truth be told, Oliver Stone in his ‘Secret History of the United States did show Obama’s policies vis-à-vis Iraq and the Middle East much chummier with Bush’s than many have realized. Perhaps another reason he didn’t prosecute Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld for war crimes, or enabling and approving the CIA renditions and tortures.

See also:


 And (On Ukraine's  Nazis):

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