Monday, President Obama called Vladimir Putin. It was as docile as expected. I think the POTUS is probably glad we didn’t hear a two-way discussion. His staff spun the conversation to seem as though the U.S. is taking the high road and “asking nicely” for Putin to pull Russian troops out of Eastern Ukraine.
Then the propaganda started. First, breaking news Saturday and Sunday mentioned a Russian fighter jet having flown too close to a U.S. Navy vessel and the Russian Navy ship shadowing the USS Donald Cook, a Destroyer. The USS Donald Cook is an Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer with the capability of firing guided missiles, and uses the AEGIS combat system. The 500 foot Destroyer was apparently taunted by an SU 24 unarmed fighter jet with the jet making 12 fly-by’s on Saturday Evening local time in the Black Sea.
It was perhaps a bit convenient that we got news today that Putin had requested a phone call with President Obama, and that the phone call was essentially, the President asking for Putin to not do what he’s doing. Followed by a perfectly scripted press conference to the White House press group. It’s clear we are trying to win the popular vote on this one. What’s unclear though, is whether or not the POTUS knows that Mr. Putin doesn’t really care about how he is perceived by the population of the United States.
Sure, we aren’t at war yet with Russia, but we sure aren’t posturing with a very convincing stature in the interim. I get propaganda. We should definitely try to persuade all of our friends (the list of which seems to get smaller by the day as we downgrade our foreign aid checks) that Mr. Putin is a bad man, hell-bent on reassembling the USSR into what will probably be called the Russian Federation.
The problem is: for Propaganda to work it actually has to damage the person it’s campaigning against. This type of ridiculous Beta-male posturing does nothing but strengthen Putin’s position in the region. We aren’t going to draw first blood. Right now we’ve got enough domestic issues that a resourceful guy like Putin knows, he can antagonize us all he wants and Congress isn’t going to authorize a war. It would take a physical strike (or something substantially similar) for Congress to push us into another war, especially with Russia. Any non-physical activities will be met with a turn of our collective heads.
Syrian nerve agent attacks (allegedly), weren’t enough to get congress to authorize military action. That would have provoked a war with Russia to some extent, or would have at least given Putin a reason to start moving weapons.
A fly-by from an unarmed jet is simply a propaganda tool that will do nothing more than occupy us while Mr. Putin and others prepare further for whatever goals they plan to carry out. Let me make it clear: I don’t think this is the rumblings of war, at least not yet, but if we had a stronger position, perhaps Mr. Putin wouldn’t be so quick to start provoking our actions.
Mr. President (Obama that is), let’s get serious about this situation and stop campaigning for the popular vote. Eventually, it is situations like these that will expose your weak foreign policies and perhaps push us into conflict we don’t want to be in.
And let’s stop with the scripted propaganda. It’s just not nearly as interesting as your staff tells you it is. What needs to happen is a set of immediate sanctions and market manipulation which reduces funding to the Russian Capital and minimizes the impact their funds can have in places like Crimea. Take away the easy flow of oil money from Russia and you can reduce the impact they can have on a global stage and then go to the table with much more leverage. Or is this going to be one of those “historic negotiations” like we just had with Iran?
POTUS reassures us through the White House Staff, that we are getting ready to get ready, to do something about the fact that Putin is a bully…or something equally as milquetoast as that.
Mr. President, here’s your opportunity to show what you’re made of.