The Wrong Path

Yesterday President Obama gave a speech before a group of other nations meeting to discuss ways to reduce the threat presented by nuclear weapons. The President used the occasion instead to refute point by point President Putin’s justification for annexing Crimea.

President Obama confirmed what everyone knows, there are no national interest reasons for the US to escalate the annexation to a war status. No kidding?

The President also drew a clear distinction with the US invasion and occupation of Iraq with that of Russia fermenting and then annexing Crimea. The difference President Obama said was that US actions were never aimed at acquiring new land or wealth. The President pointed out that the US left Iraq and in leaving left an independent nation. Hmmm.

Reference to the invasion and occupation will be rubbed in our faces for years to come. While President Obama was correct, mostly, in his statement, there are serious question about whether favorable access to Iraqi oil might have motivated the Bush/Cheney Administration. Regardless, one must stretch the meaning of national interests beyond reasonableness in order to see justification for US military actions.

But, the Russian charges of US hypocrisy were off base and the President called them on it.

The “Dick Cheney” view towards foreign diplomacy was to punch the other person in the nose first and then tell the other person he will get punched twice if he does anything Cheney does not like in the future. Smooth.

President Obama is following quite another path. He has placed logic and reason at the front of his foreign policy. The 21st Century behavior of nations must evolve giving the interdependence of nations and the history of mass destruction we witnessed in the 20th Century. The problem the President is encountering is that facts and logic are different when viewed by other countries. Gaining consensus will be slow and at times a wandering exercise.

History cannot be changed or rewritten. Iraq’s invasion and occupation is an historical fact. Iraq’s future is still very much a question (as it was under Hussein), and the odds that the world will look favorably upon Cheney’s war as a humanitarian act are slim. Russia “reoccupation” of Crimea is far more popular with the people involved and has history as a support.

In reality, the West has a problem with the process Russia used.  If this will be Russian modus operandi, that is using a broken process, the West is correct in worrying what Russia might try next.

As with the cold war, patience will be key. The Russian economy is broken and given any serious effort to rebuild Russian military superiority while still tending to the needs of its people, it is reasonable to expect the Russian economy to break again.

President Obama’s words and efforts to coordinate the West’s response seem very appropriate. As time passes and the memory of Crimea’s annexation fades, keeping a united front against the “Russian process” will become more difficult.  The President made clear he was never the less starting at the right place.

Unfortunately, the Iraq invasion and occupation will never be a great selling point.    “Do as I say, not as I did” is a weak argument.

 

 

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Explore posts in the same categories: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Iraq War, Politics, Republican Party

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