President Obama has been coming under much criticism for his weak response to Russia’s aggression in the Crimea. I agree that his response has been weak. There are many additional sanctions he could have imposed on Russia, for example, various trade sanctions or currency sanctions. His ineffectual, if not laughable, response so far is, however, consistent with his strategy with respect to the recent situations with Iran and Syria. Rather than taking decisive action, he has preferred to build a consensus of allies and lead from behind. That said, the main theme of this blog is not President Obama, but rather the cowardly response of our European allies so far.
1. Germany has the most powerful economy in Europe. Its Chancellor, Angela Merkle, is, according to “Forbes,” one of the most powerful persons in the word (ranked #2 behind the Pope in 2012 and #5 in 2013). As a leader, she has been compared to both Margaret Thatcher, probably the strongest female leader of the 20th Century, and Otto von Bismarck the greatest German Chancellor ever. Indeed, she has been nicknamed the “Iron Frau” and the “Iron Chancellor.” She is the most influential person and the de facto head of the EU. Germany is a strong trade partner of Russia’s. But, has she weighed in on the Crimea situation? Has she backed any meaningful trade or currency sanctions? Noooo! Why not? Could it possibly be because Russia is a big supplier of natural gas to Germany?
2. David Cameron, the PM of the UK, is another coward. To paraphrase Lloyd Benson, he is no Margaret Thatcher. One of Ms. Thatcher’s many shining moments was her classic response to Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982. Rather than getting bogged down in “wishy-washy” negotiations or diplomatic “protests,” she simply sent a fleet to the area to retake the Islands. No leading from behind for her. Just like that; “easy-peasy,” the problem was resolved. In addition, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, and President George H. W. Bush was hesitant about taking action, it was Ms. Thatcher who counseled “Don’t get all wobbly on me now, George.” In this instance, what has Mr. Cameron done? Nothing. Why not? Most likely, he is afraid of damaging the UK’s strong trading ties with Russia.
3. As far as France is concerned, the less said the better. The French think they are superior to everyone else. They look down their noses at the rest of the world. The truth is the French are an inconsequential power both militarily and economically. They only won WWI and WWII because they were allied with the US and England. They have not won a war on their own since the time of Charlemagne. Their socialist-style economy is choking the country. Nevertheless, their silence has also been deafening.
4. The other countries with a stake in this situation, e.g. Poland, the Ukraine, and the Baltics, are concerned, but they are too weak to do anything meaningful.
CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION
Does anyone really think that Russia will be satisfied with just the Crimea, especially given the world’s weak and ineffectual response? If you do, you are both delusional and devoid of any knowledge of world history. Appeasing aggressors, like Putin, has never worked, EVER. It only encourages them. For example, are you cognizant of the Munich Agreement in 1938? Hitler had just seized the Sudetenland. He convinced the Allies that that was all he wanted. He was now satisfied. The Allies bought it due to either fear or delusion. Remember the famous scene of Neville Chamberlain waiving the treaty proclaiming “Peace in our time?” We all know how that worked out.
The cowards of Europe are not thinking globally. They are more interested in their own internal situations. They figure that their economies need the continued trade with Russia. They hope and expect that the US will handle the situation, both economically and, if necessary, militarily as it has done for the past 70 years. Well, I say “Don’t count on it.” Not with this President, and not with the growing isolationist attitude among the American people.
Meanwhile, the other bad boys of the world, Iran, Syria, North Korea and China, are watching.