Monday, March 17, 2014

Putin struts while the west "pirouettes" with a list of restrained and inconsequential sanctions

No one in this part of the world is happy about what Putin has attempted, with barely a shot being fired, in Crimea, and potentially in Ukraine. All the western leaders, while imposing "sanctions" on individuals they consider "responsible" for this unconstitutional act, cry foul, while the Russian leaders who have been, like puppet-stooges for Putin and the Duma, appear on Russian television literally laughing at the sanctions. One even ridicules them "because I have no assets"....and the world's stomach turns another revolution in dismay.
While Putin laughs, Crimea rejoices in its overwhelming "choreographed" 97% vote approving a return to the Russian Federation, "returning home" as many of them put it. Meanwhile, the west watches, apparently in vain, as this little man, with a sizeable army, especially compared with that of Ukraine, struts in Moscow and on the world's electronic stage, apparently immune even to the abstention of the Chinese representative at the Security Council, when the vote condemning the Russian take-over of Crimea was cast.
He has neutralized western participation in Syria, through a cunning and opportunistic pawn of chemical weapons removal and destruction, while the civil war conducted by the Assad regime, supported by even larger shipments of Russian weapons and artillery than prior to the chemical weapons agreement. He has helped to draw out the Iranian negotiations on that country's fixation on acquiring, through their own building, a nuclear weapon. One has to assume that Putin also has a hand in the stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, neither of which group can come to a detailed definition of the meaning and appropriateness of the phrase, "Israel is recognized as a state of the Jewish people".....presumably pointing toward a similar phrase being applied in any final agreement to the State of Palestine.
Malaysia airlines has lost a plane, with some 239 human beings aboard, and according to The Telegraph, a witness in another court case against Islamic terrorists, has told the court, just last week, that he has met and talked with some people from Malaysia, one of who is allegedly an airline pilot, and learned that these people were planning to turn another airplane into a terrorist act. And so, the world watches and waits for the Malaysian government's explanation for its extremely tardy release of information about the whereabouts of MH370, especially as compared to other missing  passenger jets, for example one of French origin that went missing but about which the world was completely informed within a few days.
What does the Malaysian government have to hide, given its reluctance to disclose?
What role is Putin playing behind the scenes in this investigation, if any?
It is not rocket science to consider such a question given his already demonstrated flexing of his "gazmuscle" and his obvious relish in the tepid response from the "west" including from the United States, Germany and the UK and the EU. When the number of individuals on a "sanctions list" is public compared (Canada at 6, the EU at 21) in order to demonstrate how strong is the response, everyone watching and listening knows that Neil MacDonald of CBC television news is right when he calls the sanctions "an inconvenience"....and there is literally nothing but smoke and mirrors in their application.
Holding out hope for a "diplomatic solution" as Obama announced he is doing today, and therefore restraining the initial level of sanctions, seems to many, including this observer a hollow hope, coming from one whose biography is entitled, "The Audacity of Hope. Today, Obama has neither legitimate hope nor an ounce of audacity, and it could easily be argued that Putin has turned the president's title on its ear through his political satire, albeit conducted under false pretense that there is indeed a potential fascist core leading the protesters in Kiev.
We are watching what no one in the west could have dreamt as possible only a year ago: the embarrassment of the whole western political community, by a simple, if pretentious and audacious take-over of a segment of Ukraine, as a prelude to more of the same, in additional segments of that country, given the outrageously timid response confronting Putin.
The Canadian prime minister is going to Kiev this week to give "credibility" to the new government, along with a few shekels of cheques and loan guarantees. Meeting on television with the Ukrainian ambassador, Harper attempted to demonstrate both his bona fides as a world player and his choreographing of his own political fortunes and future, with rhetoric that sounded as if John Baird wrote the script, hollow and blustery, signifying very little.
At the very time when the world demands strength, not necessarily military strength, but if santions are the weapon of choice, then they need to be imposed with vigour and need to be of a strength and a duration that they will get Putin's attention. These announced on both sides of the Atlantic today clearly did not, and will not get the little man's attention.
Smug is the word that comes to mind while watching his appearances on Russian television pinning medals of achievement on Russian school children. And of Obama, today's performance has to be one of his deepest nadirs, in his six years in the White House.
While the Russian neighbours worry about their futures, if Putin decides to extend his cleptomanic machine, NATO remains silent, Merkel is lukewarm tea, and Obama is standing in the wings.
Sending Harper and Kerry into Kiev is not exactly what I would consider "support" if I were a member of the new government in Kiev. Either what Putin has done, and potentially will do, is totally unacceptable or it is not. Saying it is, and responding with a pirouette as if this were some silly ballet, simply is not adequate.

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