Saturday, March 15, 2014

GOP knows U.S. can't do much in Crimea, but blasts Obama anyway

Cohen is right:  "Calls for a greater US response to Putin’s military provocations assume a degree of omnipotence in US foreign policy – and an ability to shape foreign events – that simply doesn’t exist, and never really has."

Therefore it's shameful how Republicans try to score political points against President Obama when we're faced with the biggest foreign policy crisis since 1991. The No-Responsibility Wing can't be serious adults for even one second.

Cohen sums up the nuttiness of conservative critics [emphasis mine]:

"We don’t want military action" in Crimea, says Rand Paul. "We should be exceedingly reluctant to employ US military force," says Ted Cruz. Even Area Unrepentant War-Monger Dick Cheney says "there are military options that don’t involve putting troops on the ground in Crimea".

Indeed, one is hard-pressed to find a single person in Washington who believes the US should send actual American soldiers to Ukraine – even if Russia truly escalates the crisis and send its troops into Eastern Ukraine.

All of which raises a quite serious and legitimate question: what the hell are we arguing about?

If the US is not prepared to put troops on the ground? If we’re not willing to use military force? If we’re content with taking the biggest tool in the US toolbox off the table, then how exactly is the United States supposed to reverse Russia’s seizure of the Crimea? Our vast military capabilities won’t mean much to Putin if he knows we aren’t willing to use them.

Here’s the dirty little secret of the foreign-policy pundit/expert orgy on what to do about Crimea: the US has at its disposal very few levers with which to change Russia’s behavior, at least in the near-term. We can cancel multilateral summits and military training (already done); we can deny visas to Russian officials (just beginning); we can even ramp up bilateral economic sanctions and try to build support among key European allies for a larger, more invasive sanctions regime (under discussion).

But as our long effort to bring Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear ambition reminds us, such steps will take time and diplomatic effort to bring results. 

Like I said before, the levers that the U.S. does have at its disposal require that useless gum-flapping diplomacy stuff that Republicans revile.  

By Michael Cohen
March 14, 2014 | Guardian

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