Tom Rinaldo's Journal
Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 15,427
Number of posts: 15,427
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OK, granted, I love both of them, and IMO of the two Warren does have a better overall chance of winning in a general election over a Republican candidate. But Warren is extremely reluctant (at best) to run. That translates into she almost certainly will not oppose Hillary for the nomination, as long as Hillary wants it and continues to be viewed as a highly viable candidate.
What would make Hillary no longer seem so viable? Well something out of her control like a serous illness could stop her, just like it could stop any potential candidate, Aside from that the only thing I can think of remotely capable of derailing the self fulfilling prophecy of her as the inevitable Democratic nominee would require her getting very seriously dinged up by a challenger from the left. But there always is a risk in seriously dinging a leading presidential candidate; they may well win the nomination anyway and then go on to run as damaged goods in the general election. That's a potential conundrum for those of us who want a more progressive candidate because Hillary is so far ahead of the Democratic "pack" (or whatever one calls her possible Democratic opponents) that the pull to unify around her is being strongly felt by many, including Elizabeth Warren.
A very good thing about both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is that both of them are classy, neither of them is the type to initiate a mud bath campaign. I would not be overly concerned about either one of them trying to personally tear down Hillary Clinton rather than engaging in a principled debate on the issues. I think it would be great for the Democratic Party and the Nation if at least one of them challenged Hillary Clinton in the primaries. But as it stands now it's not likely to be Warren who will do so. Yet while Elizabeth Warren keeps repeating that she is not running for President, Bernie Sanders openly states that he is seriously considering running in the Democratic primaries.
Bernie Sanders is superb at progressively framing the issues is blunt no nonsense terms that most Americans can easily understand and relate to. If you ask most Americans if they want a socialist for President they will predictably say no, but if you ask them if they agree with statements Bernie Sanders actually makes the results can be radically different. The problem is very few voters outside of Vermont actually get to hear Bernie Sanders speak (unless they regularly watch MSNBC). Running in the Democratic presidential primaries would significantly address that deficit in exposure that Bernie Sanders now suffers from. As a sitting U.S. Senator with a national following on the left, he could not be omitted from upcoming presidential debates any more so than Dennis Kucinich could be in 2004. And unlike 2004, the Democratic debate stage in 2016 is unlikely to be cluttered up with 8 candidates vying for precious few TV minutes to make their key points in.
But Bernie Sanders, despite his very real interest in doing so, has not yet decided to enter the race. He is weighing such a run right now, in real time. It reminds me a little of 2008 when Wes Clark had a sincere and genuine interest in running again, but only if support for him doing so reached a certain minimum threshold which ultimately he decided it hadn't. During that period when Clark was weighing his options many of those who were dissatisfied with Hillary Clinton (and some who admittedly underestimated Barack Obama's chances) kept holding out hope that Al Gore would enter the race instead. Al Gore always said he wasn't going to run in 2004, and as it turns out he didn't. I am also reminded of 1968, when Bobby Kennedy seemed disinclined to run for President against LBJ, but Gene McCarthy decided to take on the prohibitive favorite for the 1968 Democratic nomination in New Hampshire. Lyndon Johnson found himself heavily dinged by a challenger from the Left in that primary and ultimately pulled out of running for the Presidency. With LBJ sidelined, RFK entered the field an was poised to win the nomination, and ultimately the presidency, before he got assassinated.
Can anyone deny Clinton the nomination if she wants it this time? Uncertain, most likely not, but yes still possible. But only if someone steps forward soon with a strong leftist populist message to challenge her. Bernie Sanders can be that someone, and he actually seems interested in being that someone. But the national progressive media, such as it is, and organizations like Move On, still remain fixated on coaxing Elizabeth Warren into the race rather than encouraging Bernie Sanders to indeed step forward. Tactically, I fear we are making a big mistake not rallying more to Sanders now, when it really matters.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Jan 30, 2015, 11:26 AM (91 replies)
They could care less. Those Republicans who managed to remain in office those years claimed they were elected to do their job and they planned to do just that regardless of how well Obama or other Democrats did in their own races, and they never bothered to stop claiming that they spoke for "the American people" whenever they disagreed with Obama.
And, oh year, many millions more of the American people voted in 2008 and 2012 than voted in 2010 and 2014
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Nov 17, 2014, 11:16 AM (7 replies)
Think of every sports metaphor you remember about playing not to lose, and how those who play that way usually do just that. On the national level, on the media message level, it was all about holding onto Senate seats in red states and trying to avoid anything that might spook centrist to center right voters into handing the Senate over to the Republican Party. Surprise surprise, it didn't work. This election Democratic Party leaders was conspicuously silent when it came to crowing about any progressive stands apart from reproductive rights. That daring departure no doubt rested on demographic research that concluded more women vote than men and even states like Mississippi reject personhood amendments. Democrats this year couldn't distinguish a clarion call from a noon whistle when it came to rallying voters.
This year they adapted a prevent defense for a game geared toward red state fields, forgetting perhaps that even with its obvious flaws a prevent defense only makes a smattering of sense if you already hold a clear lead. I suppose they were counting the number of incumbent Senate seats they could afford to give up and still cling on for a "victory" by running out the clock
2016 will look nothing like 2014. Americans turn out in presidential election years, and next time around it will be Republicans having to worry about holding on to seats they hold in ideologically unfavorable terrain. In 2016 it will be ideological war, and Republicans won't shy away from it because they know they have no real defense other than a strong offense.Democrats damn well better fight this time.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Nov 10, 2014, 02:32 PM (10 replies)
Forcefully does not always mean "with force", but sometimes it does mean that, and I believe the use of force is an important aspect of countering Jihadists now. I have always resisted the use of force, essentially by anyone anywhere. But there are always exceptions to that for me, though rarely if ever at the full scale of war. Not all jihadists are the same, obviously, but a virulent strain has been growing at the fringes of Islam. Even Al Qaeda as we knew it was not as extreme as ISIS or Boko Haram have become. Bin Ladin initially fought against the Russians for invading Afghanistan, and he first turned his sights onto America because we established military bases in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islams must sacred sites. Al Qaeda justified terrorism using convoluted religious arguments, but it did not call for the death of "non-believers"precisely because they were "non-believers". That is the trajectory the most extreme jihadists are on now.They are seeking a holy war because they see holy war as intrinsically desirable in order to spread their own version of their faith.
It is an ideology/theology that sanctions genocide as a morally justifiable, virtually required, means towards their end. It is an ideology/theology that embraces literal slavery as an institution to practice and spread in the name of God. And they are gaining momentum, territory and adherents. They represent a brutal expansionist force more akin to naked colonialism as it was practiced from the 16th into the early 20th Century than to more traditional organized Islamist movements such as Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood. It is more like an early stage of Germany's Third Reich, with a potent virulent belief system that openly justifies the most barbaric acts against those who it does not assign basic human rights or dignity to on a mass level. Like with hard core Stalinism the end will justify any means, and those beliefs are enshrined at the highest level of the movement, openly and proudly. In their version of reality it is immoral NOT to act in that way.
That level of moral sanction given to inhuman behavior, that extreme a black and white world view without inconvenient moral ambiguities clouding the certainty of judgement, can be deceptively potent if not forcefully challenged head on. The problem is that the United States of America is in critical ways ill suited to lead that challenge. We do exercise real power and power has a role to play, but power devoid of moral authority will not win this struggle, not soon and not easily- that much seems certain. to me
If Islamic leaders, both in and out of government, need the encouragement of American military backing to take on this fight full force, we can play a role. For that reason I for the moment support the military actions taken by the Obama Administration against ISIS. I support even more its intense diplomatic efforts to expand the coalition of resistance to murderous jihadism. This could became the epic struggle of our generation or more. Done with caution, done within a unifying framework much broader than the U.S. and it's European allies, this is an imperative struggle of a different scale and purpose than mere territorial and resource ambitions that often lie at the root of most wars. We may blow this in a near infinite number of ways, and distort the conflict to serve narrow capitalist and imperial interests, but we are now up against a growing ideology that is anathema to almost all of our core values.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Sep 23, 2014, 04:11 PM (9 replies)
I don't expect to in 2016. To be blunt, I don't let myself get too excited about anyone who doesn't stand a realistic chance in hell of getting elected for one thing, so that eliminates some otherwise tempting possibilities. Actually I do think that Elizabeth Warren could possibly be electable, and SHE would excite me as a candidate. But I believe Warren when she says she isn't going to run. If that changes my attitude will also.
If Hillary Clinton decides not to run, it still could get interesting, but I believe she will run. In a totally open field it is not inconceivable that a Howard Dean or a Bernie Sanders type could emerge from the pack, though I would be surprised to see that happen. I am all for Hillary Clinton having an articulate Democrat challenge her from the left in the Democratic primaries. I would oppose anyone running a scorched earth campaign against her however, even if I agreed with her challenger more on the issues. By scorched earth I mean attempts to tear into Hillary personally, rather than focusing on areas of policy differences. Bernie Sanders is an example of someone I believe could pull off the latter without falling into the former, and that would be healthy both for the Democratic Party and for our nation.
Though she is significantly right of me on many issues I will have no problem supporting Hillary Clinton for President if she wins the Democratic nomination. I expect to have problems supporting a number of her positions if she does become President however. I had no problem supporting Barack Obama for president after he won the Democratic nomination. I have had problems supporting a number of his positions since he became President however. I fully expected that to happen and I haven't regretted supporting Obama through two elections for an instant. He is notably more responsive to pressure from activists like me than his Republican opponents would have been.
I do not expect any President who we are likely to elect under current political conditions to lead us into any semblance of the progressive promised land. If we fight hard enough and organize effectively enough though we may lead him or her part way there. That is a lesson I learned in the 60's when we the people pulled our society to the left, and that even extended to Dick Nixon who founded O.S.H.A. and the E.P.A during his time in office.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Jun 10, 2014, 08:12 PM (2 replies)
My partner Janet and I run a small concert series in the Catskills and we discovered this Canadian singer- songwriter, Jon Brooks, a few years back when his agent contacted us (the web site for our concert series is www.flyingcatmusic.com in case anyone is curious).
Jon spent some time in Bosnia shortly after cessation of formal hostilities there. This song came from that context and is rooted in it, but it's scope is much larger than that war alone. We have him coming to do a concert for us Sunday night which is why I'm thinking of him now - but more people should know about him, especially those who value incisive commentary:
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sat May 3, 2014, 11:21 AM (19 replies)
Is America Abandoning its Bravest Heroes Yet Again?
By Karen Charman on Apr 21, 2014
- See more at: http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/04/21/america-abandoning-bravest-heroes-yet/#sthash.muAkuQsQ.dpuf
This is in depth reporting covering how the military failed to prevent and is failing to acknowledge extremely serious health issues of sailors who were stationed on the Ronald Reagan, a U.S. Aircraft Carrier sailing off the coast of Japan. Here is part of one of the many stories this piece covers in depth, along with reporting on the larger historic context of U.S. government responses to radiation exposure:
"From Fitness Instructor to Near Invalid
When the earthquake hit, Mike Sebourn was the senior chief mechanic in the helicopter squadron at the Navy’s Atsugi air base in Japan. At the time, he was also a fitness instructor, strong and healthy. But a few weeks after the disaster, he began having nosebleeds and migraines. They went away, but four months later, he discovered he could lift only 60 percent of what he could lift previously.
Sebourn had been in charge of decontaminating helicopters that were coming back after flying relief missions through radioactive plumes. The Navy didn’t prepare him for the job, he told WhoWhatWhy. What normally would have been a two-year course in radiation remediation was distilled down to two days. The course contained no discussion on the health risks involved; however, they were assured that their exposures would be monitored and noted in their military files...
...After the relief missions ended, Sebourn said, he didn’t use much protective gear at all because radiation readings they got off the skin of the aircraft weren’t high enough to warrant it. However, he now believes he continued to be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, mainly from hot components inside the aircraft. Sebourn, 39, now suffers from extreme loss of muscle mass and deterioration in the strength of his muscles on the right side of his body..."
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Apr 28, 2014, 08:29 PM (8 replies)
...there would be a flurry of new conspiracy theories being discussed on progressive web sites like this about how the gun industry and the NRA (same thing, I know) were somehow behind the recent mass stabbings to undercut (bad pun, I know) support for "common sense gun safety measures". Even simply typing that sentence seems completely ludicrous to me, but hack commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck make millions by spinning equivalent right wing trash talk. Supposedly main stream media willfully turns a blind eye to any objective comparison of the Left and the Right in this country, while continuing to stack the Sunday talk shows with Republican "leaders".
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Apr 15, 2014, 03:00 PM (1 replies)
Very glad to have him as my President, in light of the alternative scenarios that could have played out in 2008 and/or 2012. There are plenty of things that I like about Obama personally, and there are plenty of things that he has done in the way of policy that I also like a lot. I fully supported his election campaigns in 2008 and 2012, and unless the Democratic Party goes ape shit batty and nominates a Lyndon LaRouche or David Duke type candidate in 2016 I fully expect to support the Democratic nominee in 2016 also. None of that means that I think today's Democratic Party, on the whole, does a particularly good job of representing me or my interests in general. It does means they come much closer to doing so than today's Republican Party however.
My interests are important to me even if no one else shared them though I know millions of others do. So of course I will continue to work to prevent Republicans from screwing me over even when I am not all that happy with this or that Democrat in specific or Democrats in general. What I won't do however is suspend by beliefs when they differ with our President or any other Democrat. If something is important it should be advocated for by those who deem it as important. If that means taking a position different than Obama's or any other elected Democrat, so be it. That is how democracy functions and I am an advocate for democracy - it's how we get from here to there when justice is the goal and the status quo is unacceptable. Fundamentally, it' really is that simple.
If that means I'm not a good Democrat I can live with that. It is not by goal in life to be a good Democrat, though sometimes in practice I act like one. But the Democratic Party is a potential means toward an end, not the end itself. I try to stay clear on that concept.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Mar 28, 2014, 12:48 PM (14 replies)
In 1983 a government of disputed legitimacy in Grenada, a small Caribbean nation well within the long acknowledged U.S. sphere of influence, was itself overthrown by a coup amid social turmoil that resulted in some deaths, including that of the then Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. Within days of that outbreak of political and social unrest, the United States of America militarily invaded Grenada. Quoting from Wikipedia here: “U.S. officials cited the murder of Bishop and general political instability in a country near U.S. borders, as well as the presence of U.S. medical students at St. Georges University, as reasons for military action.” While Wikipedia may not always be the final word in authoritative sources, that's pretty much how I remember things going down also. The recently deposed head of the Ukraine government wasn't himself murdered, like Bishop of Grenada was, but he did feel in necessary to flee his nation for reasons that included his personal safety.
There are other unsettling similarities between the U.S. military invasion of Grenada in 1983 and the Russian invasion of Crimea last week. In the year prior to U.S. use of force in Grenada the then U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, had been expressing alarm over developments there. Quoting Wiki again, and again it is consistent with my own recollections of that period; “In March 1983, U.S President Ronald Reagan began issuing warnings about the threat posed to the United States and the Caribbean by the "Soviet-Cuban militarization" of the Caribbean as evidenced by the excessively long airplane runway being built, as well as intelligence sources indicating increased Soviet interest in the island.” In the year preceding the Russian invasion of Crimea the Russian President Vladimir Putin issued warnings about the threat posed to Russian interests by Western meddling in the Ukraine seeking to draw it closer to an alliance with NATO and Western Europe against “traditional ties” with Russia.
Of course there are plenty of differences between the two invasions as well. Arguably what happens inside the Ukraine is much more central to Russian national interests than anything that took place inside Grenada could ever have been to American interests. The Crimea had long been an internationally recognized part of Russia/the Soviet Union before Nikita Khrushchev handed it off to the Ukraine in an inside political maneuver, whereas Grenada has never been under U.S. sovereignty. American interests in Cuba, Chile, and even Nicaragua came far closer to rising to the level of current Russian interests in the Ukraine than anything that precipitated the U.S. invasion of Grenada.
None of this speaks to who is/was right and who is/was wrong, nor to who occupies/occupied the higher moral ground in either of these uses of military force. Power, legality, and morality are not always closely aligned. In both military engagements however the predominant international view holds that the invasions were staged in violation of international agreements. The United Nations General Assembly, for example, condemned the American invasion of Grenada as "a flagrant violation of international law”. It appears that Russia would have a similar problem now in winning the blessing of that world body for its military actions in the Crimea. The United States did not allow unfavorable readings of international law to deter it from invading Grenada, nor have similar views constrained Russian military action over the last week. Wisely or foolishly, each nation used its military outside of its borders but within its self defined geographic sphere of influence to promote its national interests, as determined by those in power at the time.
No doubt the Soviets were livid over the use of America's military within our perceived sphere of influence during the Reagan presidency, but taking direct military action against the U.S. was never a real option for them to utilize in response. There was no international military opposition to the use of force by America in Grenada in 1983, just like there wasn't when we invaded the Dominican Republic under President Johnson in 1965 either. The harsh truth is that there are times and places when military action can be construed as an at least somewhat viable option for one major player operating in an international arena, but not reciprocally for others. The United States and its western allies, unlike Russia, have no direct military options available inside the Ukraine and every Republican in the U.S. Congress of even marginally sound body and mind knows it. Outrage and bluster that the recent Russian use of force in the Crimea was triggered by an America weakened by the policies of our current President, profoundly misconstrues geo-political realities.
At virtually no point during the decades long Cold War were either the United States or the Soviet Union able to directly counter the overt use of military force by its adversary when that adversary was operating within its own geographic sphere of influence, protecting its perceived vital national interests. That goes for both Democratic and Republican Presidents, moderates and hawks alike. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the U.S. Five Star General who defeated Hitler in Europe could not, as President, stop the Soviet Union from invading Hungary any more than the Soviets could prevent us from occupying Santo Domingo. Mutual deterrence, even when it overall succeeds in preserving the larger peace, has a downside as well as an upside. Direct large scale military conflicts between major powers are painstakingly avoided because the costs associated with such warfare, for both sides, are astronomical. For that very same reason, however, regionally confined acts of military intervention by a major military power against a third party nation, one not closely allied with an opposing major military power anyway, are seldom countered militarily by adversarial outside forces.
The last time that happened was during the Korean War when the United States directly confronted the military of Communist China. The human costs associated with that conflict were staggering. Between 1950 and 1953 there were 33,686 direct U.S. combat deaths in Korea far outstripping total American casualties from Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Especially after our Viet Nam experience where even more American troops died over a longer period of time, there is little public tolerance for seeing such sustained bloodshed revisited. Very few threats to our national interests rise to a level where the American people would support entering into a war that could result in hundreds of thousands of American casualties. Not only do most Republicans in Congress know that to be true, but with just a few note worthy exceptions the Republican leadership and Republican rank and file members in both houses of Congress were conspicuously gun shy when it appeared they have the opportunity to vote for authorizing missile strikes against Russian client state Syria, after Syria was accused of war crimes for using poison gas against its own civilian population. That would only have entailed a limited air attack on a Russian client state, not a direct engagement with Russian forces, and no American ground troops would have been involved. Still most Republicans in Congress had no stomach for signing their names to any legislation calling for direct military action against Syria, let alone directly confronting the Russian regime that is instrumental in keeping Assad in power in Damascus.
So many Republicans love bluster and routinely confuse it with strength, while reflexively scorning a broad range of diplomatic initiatives as only singling weakness, but they too read polls. The American public by overwhelming numbers wanted no part of any military strikes against Syria when that option was seriously being looked at. All indications are that the majority of Republicans in Congress would have voted to deny our President the authority to militarily punish Syria for its deadly and illegal transgressions. Yet they still persisted in calling the President weak.
How can military aggression by Russia against a regional neighbor be prevented or countered by the U.S. if direct use of the American military in such a conflict is realistically off the table? One option is set up and sponsor proxy forces to exert counter military pressure in support of our security objectives. The United States went that route in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion there. But proxy forces can be notoriously unreliable and ineffective, often accomplishing little at the cost of dangerously strained relations with the powerful aggressor state that we seek to counter. And the standing up of proxy forces can come with unanticipated negative consequences, such as the rise of Osama Bin Laden as a credible jihadist leader who morphed into our mortal enemy. Not to mention that Afghanistan was plunged into a decades long civil war that left that nation in shambles from which it has yet to recover. The U.S. belatedly came to recognize the actual cost of that chaos in Afghanistan, but initially disruptions inside that supposedly inconsequential nation were thought to have only minimal and manageable effects on American concerns, since aside from Cold War politics, the U.S. had little vital interest in Afghanistan. The Ukraine, sitting near the heart of Eastern Europe in close proximity to NATO nations, with growing economic ties to Western Europe, is on its face a very different matter. Armed conflict inside a nation like the Ukraine could not as easily be ignored or contained as it seemingly long was within Afghanistan.
Treaties and alliances are a traditional deterrent to military aggression and that is how NATO came to be. It's mutual defense clause guarantees that all member nations will come to the defense of any one of its members should that country be attacked. That explains why former Eastern Europe Soviet satellite states such as Poland, and reluctant Eastern Europe member states of the Soviet Union itself such as Latvia, were so eager to fall under the NATO umbrella as protection against possible Russian expansionism . But a military alliance in a multipolar world where no one side is all powerful is in essence a type of doomsday machine. It promises horrific violence for all concerned if an aggressor triggers it's mutual defense provisions. That functions well to deter violence if the threat of mass retaliation is suitably respected. But doomsday in a nonpartisan event. Both sides suffer grievously in any all out war. Defense pacts set up trip wires; cross that line and all hell breaks loose.
But trip wires have much in common with mine fields. The more mines that are buried over greater and greater amounts of territory, and the more trip wires that get strewn across expanding geo-political landscapes, the more likely it becomes that one will be intentionally or perhaps inadvertently be tested if events should ever spin out of control, as they sometimes are want to do. Will that doomsday machine actually be triggered or is it really just a bluff? At what point does the steady encroachment of new mine fields ever closer to your home become more threatening than confronting the mines previously put in place? Some make the case that were the Ukraine a part of NATO Russia would never have invaded it. A case can also be made that had NATO not kept advancing closer and closer to Russia's borders that Russia would have been less motivated to take a stand and cross a line into the Crimea. Military Alliances are powerful potential tools for peace but they too can bring with them potential unintended consequences of a very serious nature. They too present inherent risks.
The Russians long viewed Eastern Europe as a buffer zone protecting it from aggression from the West. In recent years they have seen carefully cultivated and frequently imposed buffer shrink. That can be unnerving to leaders with a strong nationalist streak and a sightly paranoid bent. For generations the United States proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine, defining the Western Hemisphere as our special domain. One could say that U.S. leaders became a bit unhinged when Fidel Castro proclaimed Cuba to be a Marxist state. We narrowly avoided a nuclear cataclysm and assured mutual destruction over Cuba before all was said and done.
What options are left then, if a direct military response to Russian military moves against one of its neighboring states is ruled out, when a proxy war is ill advised, and when expanding a military alliance becomes dangerously uncertain as to whether it would succeed at keeping the peace or instead tempt an even greater disaster? In the Ukraine of course that latter option is officially moot, at least for the immediate future. The Ukraine is not a NATO member and Russian troops are already on the ground there. So, when both sides wield big sticks and it appears each would get maimed if they were simultaneously swung, what other incentives exist that could ultimately influence the behavior of an adversary in a positive rather than negative direction? We all know that alternative well. We call it Carrots. But Carrots, Republicans say, are a reward, and you should never reward bad behavior. There is an alternative to either punishing with sticks or rewarding with carrots however, and that is to withdraw some carrots previously put in place. Of course that requires a degree of planning and general foresight, to get those carrots in their place to begin with, but at this point in human history it should be apparent that a prolonged peace is never achieved easily. It always takes effort and planning, and it takes sustained relationship building in many simultaneous spheres of endeavor for extended periods of time.
There is a word for the policy of doing exactly that, and that word in engagement. It isn't a new concept nor is it particularly ideological at its core. It's what Nixon did with China. It involves weaving a web of subtle interdependency in ways both large and small. It means transforming the status quo so that formerly entrenched adversaries begin to have more to lose than gain by allowing remaining flash points that exist between them to escalate rather than dissipate. There are bumps on any road, some more severe than others. And those become the times when existing carrots embedded in a relationship are at least temporarily withdrawn instead of offering new ones. At some point in an interdependent relationship the loss of some hard earned and long counted on carrots carries a sting as sure as a blow from a stick, without directly risking an escalation of violence.
Yes Putin wants Russia to again be a great nation, but he wants Russia to be great within a community of nations, standing proudly alongside great peers, not for it to now be isolated as some type of brooding and troubled pariah. Like China, Russia sees a need to integrate its economy ever more closely with the rest of the world to remain relevant and prosper over the coming century. A stick is a very blunt tool to wield, limited in its useful applications as I've discussed above relative to our current options regarding the Russian invasion of the Crimea. It is the strings of an international social and economic order that Russia benefits from participating in that most forcibly constrain Russia's military actions now. It is the past fruit of long pursued bi-partisan efforts consistent with the Obama Administrations recent efforts to “reset our relationship with Russia” that are providing us with whatever leverage the G8 nations now hold over Putin's next actions now. It is the carrots we now can threaten to withdraw, only because we had the foresight to have tendered them earlier under less tense circumstances, that provides us with any influence as events in the Ukraine continue to evolve. And hollow bluster has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Obama isn't weak, he's right. This is a serious episode flaring up in the middle of a continuing long term game plan. The overall strategy remains correct. Embracing a new Cold War, in so many ways, would be a mistake of epic proportions. That truly should be the last resort.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 05:41 PM (23 replies)