Each act of apeasement dishonors those who fought for, and in many cases died for, the freedoms which we now enjoy.
For the lastest on Russian military moves in the Ukraine, see
(1) “Poroschenko meldet Invasion durch russisches Militär,” Suddeutsche Zeitung, 28. August, 2014 (10:56 Uhr).
(2) Andrew E. Kramer and Michael R, Gordon, “Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front, New York Times, August 27, 2014.
The pacifists and appeasers who lead the West seem lost.
Angela Merkel is reportedly concerned that EU and NATO actions vis-vis the Ukraine not hurt Russia’s interests. A high EU official stresses that the European Union will do what it can to meet Russia’s concerns over the EU-NATO cooperation agreement signed in June.
They don’t get it.
We are no longer living in that world.
Vladimir Putin emerged from his meeting in Minsk with Petro Poroshenko, and others including high European officials, with victory in hand.
No third-stage or “stage 3” sanctions are going to be imposed, even after his sending regular Russian forces into the eastern Ukraine.
No one was even discussing implementing tougher “stage 3” sectoral sanctions against Russia. These had long been threatened (with several deadlines passing without consequences) if Russia invaded the eastern Ukraine or didn’t stop its military support of the so-called “separatists”.
Putin called the West’s bluff, and won.
Then he intensified the overt Russian invasion of the Ukraine, opening another front to the South toward Mariupol.
This is his pattern. He does whatever necessary to deflect the adoption of really harsh sanctions, and after he succeeds he escalates Russia’s military intervention in the Ukraine.
He may be executing a strategic plan to join the Crimea to Russia by seizing territory to the South of Donetsk and Luhansk.
This may have been a long-term strategy for some time, but as he encounters no resistance from the West he appears to be speeding it up, as he did in the Crimea when he encountered no opposition from the West.
After Minsk, Angela Merkel has now demonstrated her pacifism and appeasement of Putin beyond the slightest doubt. However skilled in economic matters, she comes off as a naive schoolgirl when dealing with Vladimir Putin, no doubt under the strong influence of her SPD foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Steinmeier is the former chief of staff of SPD ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Putin’s business partner and leading apologist in Germany.
We can’t look to Germany any more for leadership on the Ukraine.
Nor can we look to France, given Francois Hollande’s sell-out to Moscow by guaranteeing delivery of the two Mistral-class warships to Russia.
Great Britain is a possible but dubious potential source of leadership. David Cameron comes out strutting like a rooster, saying the right things, but then withdraws to the barn at the first sign of opposition. The strongest example was when he lost an ill-prepared vote in the House of Commons to authorize military action against Syria after Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons at Ghouta in August, 2013. Instead of renewing the political fight with better preparation, he simply gave up.
The only potential leadership to stand up to Russia is in Poland and the Baltics, with support from other countries such as Norway. After the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17, the political backbone of Holland seemed to stiffen, but time will be needed to see if that change holds.
The key decision at the EU summit this weekend is going to be the choice of the new foreign affairs boss. If the Italian Federica Mogherini is voted in, Putin can break out the Champagne, as she will not be inclined to lead stiff opposition to Russian aggression.
According to late reports, however, she will be chosen.
The effect is likely to be to neuter the EU as a force that can act effectively to rein Putin in.
On the other hand, if someone like the Pole Radoslav Sikorski were to be selected, Europe could expect strong and experienced foreign policy leadership, particularly with respect to Russia.
As for the United States, Barack Obama has been on vacation while Russia was launching an invasion of the eastern Ukraine with regular Russian soldiers.
What more can be said?
Can one imagine John F. Kennedy leaving Washington for a two-week vacation at Hyannisport during the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Given the hopeless incompetence of Barack Obama and his White House foreign policy team, the only hope for stronger leadership from the U.S. would be if Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders were to pull off the gloves and start setting forth a much more robust set of foreign policy options and policies. Were they to do this strongly enough, and soon enough, it could push the Obama administration toward stronger policies of containment toward Russia.
It would also position these Democratic leaders to better withstand a hard charge from Republican critics of Obama’s policies and foreign policy failures.
Unless the direction of current U.S., EU, and NATO actions changes sharply, and quickly, future historians are likely to write of “the summer of appeasement of 2014”, the story of how the leaders of the West failed to effectively stand up to Putin’s policies of military aggression and annexation.
They will be writing, and living, in a different world.
The Trenchant Observer