Obama “Snubs” Putin, Cancels Meeting over Snowden

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Seems Barack Obama is miffed at Vladimir Putin.   So much so that he has canceled a bilateral meeting with the Russian President coincident with the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg in early September.  On Leno last night, our esteemed Statesman put forth this gem regarding Putin’s Russia:

“There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality”

Such ill-informed and ill-considered commentary is endemic of this Administration’s lack of competence in the sphere of international relations.   Obama has little concept of a “Cold War mentality”, and less of what Russia’s was during those 45 years.  In addition, Obama has no real understanding that Soviet Russia was far more Russian than Soviet in its approach to diplomacy and geopolitics.  And, thus, Russia is today what Russia has been for centuries.   Russia remains xenophobic and deeply suspicious of its neighbors and the west.   Putin, being a REAL Cold Warrior, is imbued with a soul-deep understanding of power politics and the value of economic and military leverage.  He is not willing to come bearing Russian strategic interests for bargain like so many Pokemon cards.

Obama, on the other hand, has no feeling for power politics.  In fact, he is loath to admit that they are the basis for relations between great national rivals such as the US and Russia.  He and his foreign policy team are also willfully ignorant of history, and approach international affairs with a twisted and dangerous belief in moral equivalence, where allies, rivals, adversaries, and sworn enemies are all peers in some Model UN project being conducted at an Ivy League seminar.  This situation partially explains why the US was an active participant in the “Arab Spring”, and the overthrow of two (almost three) admittedly repressive regimes that most represented US interests, and opened the window for Islamic Extremists to seize power in key nations.  It explains Hillary Clinton’s imbecilic “Reset Button” concept to Russia, a nation with a history eight centuries of virulent conflict with the West, as if Putin will be willing to wipe away Russia’s heritage because Barack Obama brings Hope and Change with him.

One of the more enlightening quotes came from one of this Administration’s staunchest supporters, uber-liberal Senator Chuck Schumer.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that “Putin doesn’t deserve the respect after what he’s done with Snowden.” “I know what he’s doing. He’s trying to make Russia a big power again…”

Yes, Chuck, he is.   He said he would, and he has acted on those words.   You and your colleagues on the far-left are the ones who refuse to acknowledge his ambitions for Russia and himself.   If you did, perhaps you wouldn’t be actively eroding the power of your own country so that it will no longer be a great power.

Obama has far more to talk to Putin about than Putin does Obama.  This bit of childish petulance on the part of the American President is indicative of the dangerously ineffectual US foreign policy path.   Yes, Putin does deserve respect.   He is acting in what he perceives are the best interests of his country.

O, that we should have a President who even knows what America’s best interests are, let alone with the courage of conviction, diplomatic acumen, and mastery of statecraft to act upon them.  Seems the “flexibility” Obama promised to Putin includes such foolish charades as this.

In Some Places, it Seems, the Behavior Comes Naturally

Bonn, Pressekonferenz Bundestagswahlkampf, Kohl

The Telegraph has an interesting article on former German Chancellor Helmuth Kohl, who admitted to “acting like a dictator” in forcing the Euro on Germany.   He admits he did so against the will of the people.   Consequences be damned.

“I knew that I could never win a referendum in Germany,” he said. “We would have lost a referendum on the introduction of the euro. That’s quite clear. I would have lost and by seven to three.”

So, let’s go over this again.   Your country’s people would have been overwhelmingly against an economic measure that you forced down their throats, with the idea that you knew better than them what was in their best interests….  You get what you wanted…

“If a Chancellor is trying to push something through, he must be a man of power. And if he’s smart, he knows when the time is ripe. In one case – the euro – I was like a dictator … The euro is a synonym for Europe. Europe, for the first time, has no more war.”

… and it is in the middle of coming apart at the seams, for all the reasons you were warned about heading into the deal.  The Euro certainly was not responsible for the peaceful existence of Europe since 1945, or even 1991.   The evolution from the European Common Market from a cooperative of heavy industry and transportation to the rampant and malignant socialism of today’s “come one, come all” European Union, was one from economic relationships borne of necessity to the wishful thinking of those who believed in the “no more borders” Socialist paradise.     With predictable results.  The weaker economies hitched on for the ride, which was provided by the industry and GDP of the stronger economies.   Now, the weaker economies are in free-fall, in need of constant injections of capital to keep the Euro from collapsing and taking the whole kit and kaboodle with it.

The article goes on to point out the hitch in the get-along with the idea of a common European currency (Which Margaret Thatcher so eloquently and presciently warned against!):

In the interview, Mr Kohl said that much of the resistance in Germany was to the idea of a currency union without an economic and fiscal union. The lack of fiscal union underpinning the single currency is the heart of Europe’s current debt crisis.

The “fiscal union” is precisely what Germany is pushing for, that they have some control over the profligate spending habits of EU members to whom they have given hundreds of billions in bailouts, with no end in sight.    The Greeks and Spaniards and Italians are quick to label the Germans as being officious and meddlesome, but even quicker to burn through German money to fund rampant socialism despite weak economies.

Hmmm……   Does that ring familiar at all?    The takers criticizing the earners as selfish and meddlesome for wanting some control over how the money they earned is spent.    Tensions, and emotions, are running high, as sovereign nations rediscover the value of that sovereignty.  No more war?  Stay tuned.   The Euro may be the single greatest impetus to the next one.

A Republic is not the thing of simple majority rule.  Nor is it the thing of an office holder unilaterally acting against the will of the people and the other institutions of government.   Should either occur consistently, there will be no Republic at all.   And then, “acting” like a dictator will not be “acting” at all.

Uniformly Stupid? Part 2

See Part 1 here.

I’m on the road, so I’ll be doing some “best of” posts. Right now, this is the most searched for post. 

While most people in the Army spend just about all their time in a working uniform like the ACU, there are occasions when something a little more formal is needed.

Since the late 1950s the standard Army Service and Dress uniform for most soldiers has been the Army Green Uniform. Folks in the Army almost universally refer to it as “Class A’s”.

When the uniform jacket is removed, the Army Green Uniform can be worn as the Class B uniform, suitable for most office environment jobs. When I served as a recruiter, most days we wore the Class B.

No, that's not me...
No, that's not me...

The problem with the Army Green Uniform was simple. It was ugly as sin in church. There was an alternative, however, one with a great history dating back practically to the first days of the Army. The Dress Blue Uniform.

Female Officer and Male Enlisted Service Dress Blues
Female Officer and Male Enlisted Service Dress Blues

There’s a reason why the trousers are a different shade blue from the coat. Back in the days of the Old West, when cavalry troopers wore the blue uniform as there work clothes, they would routinely remove their coat, roll it up and carry it strapped to the back of the saddle. The trousers faded from the sunlight and wear and tear, but the coat didn’t. Hence the difference.

Service Dress Blues were always an optional item for enlisted personnel. You could buy them, but you didn’t have to. Since they cost a lot of money and there were relatively few occasions to wear them, most junior folks did without.

Back in 2005 or so, the Chief of Staff of the Army made the decision to do away with the Army Green Uniform and modify the Blue uniform to replace it.The new variations are shown below.

The Army Blue Uniform
The Army Blue Uniform

Personally, I wish they had done this about 25 years ago. I always hated the Green Uniform, and as soon as I could, bought a set of Blues. And anytime I had a chance to wear them, I did. One fairly common occasion was the “Dining Out”. A Dining Out is when a unit, typically a battalion, has a formal banquet, with spouses and sweethearts invited*. This is a social occasion run on military lines- the colors are presented, the chaplain gives the invocation, there are a couple of (usually brief) speeches, and maybe some awards and recognitions. Then there is usually some dancing. The important thing is, your best girl gets a chance to put on her best dress and go out to be seen. Chicks dig that.  Since a lot of guys didn’t own Dress Blues, they made do with the Army Green Uniform with a white shirt and a bow tie.

Your author, center, in Dress Blues, flanked by two friends in Class A's.
Your author, center, in Dress Blues, flanked by two friends in Class A's.

Incredibly, I managed to save this picture, but lost the picture of my date. You’ll have to take my word for it that she was stunning. Really. The two guys in the photo were great friends and fellow warriors, but neither was all that attractive….

*You could invite your spouse, or your sweetheart, but NOT your spouse and your sweetheart…

This strikes me as an utterly stupid idea.

From The Stars and Stripes, via Military.com:

Under a law recently pushed through the state legislature, post-traumatic stress disorder would be noted on the license in the same way that a person’s license might indicate corrective lenses are required for vision, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adding the information would be voluntary and require a sworn statement from a doctor. If signed by the governor, the bill would become law on July 1.

Why do I suspect this is really the first step towards the mandatory disclosure of a PTSD diagnosis, and a further stigmatization of our troops. It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to see a “logical progression” where citizens who have been diagnosed with PTSD would be prohibited from buying or possessing firearms.

I’m in favor of prohibiting the mentally unsound from possessing firearms. That’s a restriction of civil rights that falls well within the bounds of constitutionality. But the current standard that has to be met is that a court has to make a finding. That’s the whole “due process” thingy at work.

If, as I suspect, this is a ploy to sneak in a restrictive provision over time, it would remove that due process protection for citizens and place the power to infringe constitutional rights into the hands of unaccountable bureaucrats, with likely little recourse to the citizen.

It also shows a remarkable misunderstanding of what most people with PTSD really go through. I’m no expert, but the best description I’ve heard is that you spend a lot of time hyper-aware of your surroundings, as if your nerve endings had been sanded.

Any of you in Georgia might take a moment to encourage your governor to veto this bill, and not start down a path with no good outcomes.

Is the Russian-Georgian conflict heating up again?

Sure looks that way. Go over to Information Dissemination and read this post. Here’s a taste:

The low capacity narrow roads leading from Russia into Georgia (one into Abkhazia and another leading into South Ossetia) create immense logistical problems in rapidly deploying large military contingents into Georgia if Moscow opts for a “humanitarian intervention” to bring about “regime change.” The insertion of a sizable marine force with heavy weapons was used last August to bypass the clogged up overland routes and this could prove important again. The Russian military knew beforehand the exact timing of its pre-arranged invasion and fully controlled the pre-war armed provocations by the South Ossetian forces, whereas in the present crisis the situation is much more volatile.

Georgia on my mind

It’s been a while since we looked at the situation in Georgia. Now’s a good time for a review. EU Observer has an update for us that we found courtesy of the Instapundit.

Things are better for Georgia than I would have expected. Truth be told, I was somewhat surprised that Russia didn’t press their advantage and overrun the capital. I would have. They had already forfeited any international goodwill, but there would be no real response from the West in terms of shooting. But for whatever reasons, the Russians held off from invading all of Georgia proper, and while they hoped to topple the government, decided to let that slide.

Now, the EU is doing a surprisingly good job of pushing the Russians back. Since Russia has recognized the independence of South Ossettia and Abkahzia they will balk at leaving them. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just surprised they haven’t kept outposts in Georgia proper.

UPDATE: I tend to agree with MikeD’s analysis below in the comments:

My personal belief is that they stopped at the bridges to Tbilisi because they would have taken much heavier casualties than they were prepared to. Sure they WOULD have taken the city, but they would have paid heavily for it in blood, and Putin would not have wanted the loss of face involved in that. Kicking over an anthill should not cost you a foot. Yeah, you won, but you look stupid now.

Furthermore, holding Tbilisi is great… but the government would have just moved into the southern mountains, and suddenly the Russians are fighting Afghanistan all over again. Plus, at that point, there’s no “peacekeeping” pretense anymore, you’re a conquerer.

Once we had US troops on the ground with “humanitarian aid”, Putin was sunk. He COULD have pushed on at that point, but if he hurt one hair on the chinny-chin-chin of one of our airmen, that’s pretty much an act of war. And contrary to what a lot of folks were saying, Putin’s not really crazy. Evil? Sure. But not crazy.

But the point here is the strategic importance of time. If the Russians had pressed as far and as fast as possible with the intention of deposing the government, I think they could have taken Tiblisi before the Georgian government could evacuate and set up a guerrilla war in the south. But while the Russians were prepped to go into Ossettia and Abkazia, they had no real operational plan past that. It is kind of nice to see that the US isn’t the only ones who have trouble planning past the first push…

Georgia and the Roki Tunnel

I’m seeing a lot of folks asking why the US doesn’t use Stealth bombers or cruise missiles to take out the Roki Tunnel. Simple answer? Too late. That ship has sailed.

The Roki tunnel goes from North Ossettia to South Ossettia and is the only real road connection between them. The thinking goes that if the tunnel were closed, the Russian forces would be cut off from supply and reinforcement.

Indeed, it looks like the Georgians plan was to sieze the tunnel and prevent the Russians from using it. If they had, things might have gone differently. But the Russians were more than prepared for the Georgians. They secured the tunnel before the Georgians could get there. Taking out the tunnel with airpower is virtually impossible without precision guided munitions and thus beyond Georgia’s capability.

So why wouldn’t it make sense to do so now? Because the Russians aren’t foolish enough to stick their necks in the noose. A quick glance at the map below will shed some light.

The map is a few days old and the positions of the forces has changed a little. But notice the large part of western Georgia occupied by the Russians. Also notice that Gori is occupied by Russia, despite their assurances that they are pulling out. The main East-West road in Georgia runs through Gori. And it ends up in Poti which is also under Russian control. Alternatively, there are good roads leading to Abkazia and Russia itself in the northwest. While the map shows Georgian units between Poti and Gori, these are not very significant and the terrain is not very suitable for the defense.

In effect, the Russians have secured a second supply line, running from the Black Sea to the heart of Georgia. That’s why the Russians invaded on the Black Sea coast. Any attempt now to destroy the Roki tunnel would be fruitless.

Georgian Update for Friday

I was trying to get a post together on this, but Kat over at The Castle has done a better job than I was going to do, so just go read her.

The Russians are advancing on Tiblisi while claiming to be observing a cease fire. It appears the Georgians are refusing combat under terms not favorable to them. The Russians are advancing, claiming that they are securing military depots for safety’s sake. Currently, there are reports that they are only a few miles from Tiblisi. While the Georgian army is in no shape to stop this, these gains will be hard to pry from the Russians at the negotiation table. Or the Russians may just decide to advance and seize Tiblisi.