Above was the moment when Putin knew for sure that Obama wasn’t much of a player.
I will say that for the most part I am for a less aggressive American position in the world. We are involved in too many places. We have too many bases. We should cut the military and the contracts which go to our massive Military Industrial Complex. We spend way too much money on war. (And everything else for that matter.)
But we shouldn’t be boneheaded in our diplomacy. We can be humble in our foreign policy while making it very clear that people should not mess with us. That our position, even if it is more “humble” perhaps much more humble, is one which must be respected.
What Obama has done is the exact opposite of what should have been done over the last 5 years. Instead of being more humble in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan he has continued to wage wars, covert and overt, across a good part of the globe. From Libya, to Yemen, to Afghanistan, and God only knows where in between, drones have been raining hell and “advisors” slipping in and out of country.
In so doing Obama has exhausted the last bit of fighting will America had. America is tired. The Bush/Obama wars have worn us out.
When Obama blustered in Syria, Putin smacked the president down and made Obama look like an amateur. Putin knew how tired the West was. How come our president did not?
Then Putin did it again over the weekend in the Crimea after Obama on Friday “warned” the Russians of dire consequences if the Russians invaded. Putin just walked right into the place. Obama, and the US just watched.
Statecraft is like poker. (Hell, everything is like poker.) Much of one’s strength comes from not showing what one has. The US has all its cards on the table now. It did last fall in Syria. Yet last fall the president, bluffed, talking about a “red line” when the world knew for the most part that such a line did not exist. The Russians called his bluff and the US lost a pile of chips.
As we said last fall the Syria debacle may have indicated the beginning of the end of post Cold War US hegemony in the world. The situation in the Crimea seems to reinforce our hypothesis.
Incredibly Obama bluffed again in the Crimea when he had absolutely nothing to bluff with. Had he learned nothing from Syria?
It’s one thing to bluff with nothing and get caught. It is quite another to bluff with nothing again and get caught. One just looks foolish and like one has no place being at the table.