Vladimir Putin has always had designs on his neighbors; he’s never been unclear about wanting to grab back the states that he believes belonged in the Soviet Union, that he viewed should now be part of the Russian empire — under his control. We’ve seen him make moves in the past to satisfy that ambition, so it should never be a surprise to anyone. The only question, of course, was timing and whether he thought the time was ripe. He made that move on Wednesday as we reported earlier.
Joe Biden and the Democrats changed that equation that had previously forestalled him. He saw the debacle in Afghanistan, he saw Biden inexplicably lifting sanctions on Nord Stream 2, allegedly to make Germany happy, without seeming to understand what that would signal to Putin. He saw him, at the same time, increase our reliance on Russian oil and cut our energy independence. He saw Biden say minor incursions weren’t going to mean anything.
He also saw Biden completely take any military response off the table. That last part was the most significant thing of them all. With that taken completely off the table, Putin then knew he had nothing to fear from the West and he could move. Even if you don’t want to put boots on the ground, you don’t out and out say that as Biden did, repeatedly. Even after Putin declared the two regions of Ukraine as independent nations — a prelude to invasion as I said the other day — Biden’s response was the weakest possible sanction response; sanctions that would probably hurt us more than Putin. He even held back lethal aid for the Ukrainians to help defend themselves — yes, it was Biden who held those back, not President Donald Trump. So Putin — the KGB guy — knew he had a pigeon on his hands, a guy who had been wrong on everything foreign policy-related for the past forty years. Putin knew the time was now to move.
Now, CNN has come around to an interesting conclusion in an “analysis” from Chris Cillizza: that Mitt Romney was right about the threat from Russia.
“Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe,” Romney, who would be the Republican presidential nominee in the 2012 race against President Barack Obama, told Wolf Blitzer in March of that year. “They — they fight every cause for the world’s worst actors.”
Obama and his team pounced on the comment, insisting that it showed Romney was hopelessly out of touch when it came to the threats facing the US.
In the third presidential debate between the two candidates in October 2012, Obama went directly after Romney for that remark. “When you were asked, ‘What’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America,’ you said ‘Russia.’ Not al Qaeda; you said Russia,” Obama said. “And, the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
Cillizza notes something that many may now forget — what specifically Romney was talking about when he made that comment. He was talking about Obama’s comment that was caught on a hot mic to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (who was Putin’s creature).
Obama told Medvedev: “This is my last election. And after my election, I have more flexibility.” What was Medvedev’s response? “I’ll transmit that to Vladimir.”
We saw what that “flexibility” wrought when Putin walked into Crimea without any significant pushback. We’re now seeing the backend of it, under Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s Vice President. Putin knew that there would be no significant response from Biden because he’d already been told and seen Obama’s response; he’d already seen Afghanistan. He knew everything he could expect from Biden — weak sanctions — and he was not put off by that. He didn’t know what President Donald Trump would do, he saw Trump’s strength, he saw that Trump was not afraid to drop bombs on the heads of Russian contractors in Syria, he saw Trump unafraid to blast back at our enemies when faced with a threat. That’s why he moved under Obama and Biden, and not under Trump. Strength works. “Flexibility” and “minor incursions” do not.
We also note it was Obama who played a big factor in weakening Ukraine by convincing them to give up their weapons, not just nuclear weapons but conventional weapons in exchange for promises of protection under the Budapest Memorandum. That didn’t mean much to Obama when it came down to it and it didn’t mean much to the feckless Biden since he wouldn’t even come through with lethal aid to Ukraine.
The Russians may, however, find that while Biden and the EU are generally feckless in trying to back him off, if they try to occupy Ukraine or install a puppet government, they’re going to face a stiff and consistent underground resistance.
But two other things should be noted on this day: Ukraine is not the only country on which Putin has designs. And the rest of Romney’s remarks in 2012. “It is always Russia, typically with China alongside.” China is watching. Just as Putin watched Biden’s weakness in Afghanistan, China is also watching and thinking about their ambitions. This has to make folks in Taiwan very nervous today. We saw already an indication of that based on what Chinese media accidentally leaked out yesterday.
“In the future, China will also need Russia’s understanding and support when wrestling with America to solve the Taiwan issue once and for all,” his post read. Ming said that it “doesn’t hurt” to use moderately pro-Russia language.
A final thought? Romney was right about the threat of Russia and he is right about China. But CNN and other liberal media didn’t care about that at the time, because it was more important to mock that and support Obama. So this admission comes just a bit late. It’s also after they had a hand in helping put in office the feckless Biden whose weakness has also led to this. Indeed, it was Romney, Never Trump, Democrats, and their willing creatures in the media who ensured what happened today by their efforts against Trump. As I noted on Wednesday, Trump knew that signing a deal with Russia for the pipeline would undermine that strength and he was right.
#Trump at #NATOSummit2018: "I think it's very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you're supposed to be guarding against Russia." pic.twitter.com/zUT44I4bjg
— Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (@RFERL) July 11, 2018
Trump had held Putin’s ambitions off for years because of his strength (despite the false claim that media and Democrats fed that he was a stooge). Every one of those Never Trumpers, Democrats, and yes, Romney, too, should be looking at the result of their actions now because their actions have not only made everything worse for us in this country, they’ve made it worse for the safety and the peace of the world.
This is what “flexibility” has wrought.
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