Russia now waging war on Ukraine directly — no surrogates

Well, Russia has stopped playing the game of pretending this is all about Russian speakers in Ukraine yearning to breathe free. Putin is waging war on Ukraine directly:

The U.S. says it has “new evidence” that Russian forces have been firing artillery across the border to attack Ukrainian military positions, and that Moscow is planning to ship powerful rocket artillery to the rebels it backs in the country’s east.

“We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said during a daily briefing….

Meanwhile the European Union can’t seem to get its act together to enact strong sanctions. So, a week after one of his rockets killed everyone on board a civilian jetliner, Putin just continues to get away with it…

29 thoughts on “Russia now waging war on Ukraine directly — no surrogates

  1. bud

    All these reports should be taken with a huge grain of salt. After all there is precedent for an American president to, shall we say, be less than a reliable source of information. But even if true the Russians aren’t going to “get away with it” as Brad claims. They will suffer sanctions and be disregarded as a pariah in the international community. Their soldiers will die and their treasury will be drained to pay for this misguided effort at imposing Russian exceptionalism. Just not sure why big nations continue to do this sort of thing but remember this all started when certain factions in Ukraine revolted against a democratically elected president and the supporters of that president conducted a counter-revolt.

    Bottom line: Tragic – Yes ; a necessary vital interest of the USA – No

    1. Bryan Caskey

      What frustrates me is the argument of Well, what do you want to do? Go to war with Russia?

      Between what we are doing now and “war with Russia” there is a BIG space for things to be done. For instance, we could start supplying the Ukrainian military with more than just MRE’s. We could give/sell them weapons, aircraft, armor, jamming systems, etc. We should already have been setting up a system for importing LNG (liquified natural gas) to eastern Europe. Our President should be out there using the bully pulpit of the office of the Presidency to challenge Russia.

      This is now open war between Russia and Ukraine. All that needs to happen for evil to thrive is for good men to stand by and do nothing. We’re doing nothing. I don’t know if this administration is naive in believing that nothing bad will happen, or if this government is simply unwilling to accept the challenge of leadership, but the USA is the leader of the free world.

      We need a leader that will stand up for what is right and inspire Western Europe and the rest of the free world to follow us. We don’t have that today. All we have now is cancellations of trips to Disney for Russian leaders, and preferences for investigating a crime scene WHERE WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. Who cares about the crime scene? Heck, if the President would stand up to Putin with half as much vigor as he stands up to the GOP, we’d be fine.

      You know that scene in Braveheart where Wallace is talking to Robert the Bruce and says “Now tell me, what does that mean to be noble? Your title gives you claim to the throne of our country, but men don’t follow titles, they follow courage. Now our people know you. Noble, and common, they respect you. And if you would just lead them to freedom, they’d follow you. And so would I.”

      That’s how I feel about all our foreign policy problems these days. If our President would stand up, put his foot down and start leading…I would follow him.

      But it’s hard to be inspiring when all you do is fundraise, do meet-and-greet events in random restaurants, attack your political opposition at home as having bad motives, and play golf.

      We want leadership. The American people and the world desperately want leadership. It ain’t there.

      /pounds shoe on table

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        The president could draw a red line… Oh. Never mind.

        Yes, Bryan, the thing that is missing is leadership. And you can’t say that without Obama defenders saying, “WHY DO YOU WANT US TO GO TO WAR?!?!?” And they say it just like that, in all caps with exclamation points thrown in.

        The president needs to ENGAGE, and face the fact that the world — especially Europe — tends to kick back and wait to see what the U.S. intends to do, because we are the big dog. (Although France has done that much less lately, to Hollande’s credit. I hate to give credit to a guy who mistreated la belle Ségolène so, but there it is.)

        He doesn’t do this. He hangs back. He doesn’t seem to pull other leaders into a huddle and say, “OK, here’s the plan…”

        And he doesn’t do that because, I increasingly believe, he doesn’t like us BEING the big dog. If he could, he would wish it away (and he may be in the process of doing so). He’s like a lot of people on the left in that way. Somehow, being so big and powerful is an embarrassment to them, a source of shame — instead of just the way things are. They don’t believe that the country has an obligation to use the power it has to help others.

        He’s unlike any other president in my lifetime in this regard. And while I see it as a natural consequence of being a post-Vietnam liberal, I think it may be related to his personal background as well. I keep thinking of the White House sending the Churchill bust back to Britain, and how at the time it occurred to me that Obama’s grandfather was once jailed by the British in Kenya, which would be bound to take the shine off the Special Relationship for him.

        I suspect this president has a keener identification with the Third World than other presidents, which is in many ways a fine thing. But if it causes him to shy away from First World responsibilities, that’s not good…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          By the way, this is a matter of DEGREE. Obama in many ways does embrace the unique responsibilities that rest on the shoulders of what we used to call the “leader of the free world.”

          But his heart doesn’t seem to be in it.

          I was satisfied with his answer when I asked him how he saw America’s role in the world way back in January 2008. He did the surge in Afghanistan. He comes out and makes strong-sounding statements about Ukraine, as he did about Syria.

          But he doesn’t really seem to have a will for following through…

        2. Doug Ross

          Bring big and powerful had two side effects…first, it makes you a bigger target for those who don’t want your help or find your culture an abomination to their own. And, second, there are usually plenty of people in power on the”big and powerful” side who think it is necessary to become bigger and more powerful. It never ends well.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            But that’s what we are, Doug. Even if we engage in a frenzy of self-destruction in order to make ourselves smaller and weaker — trashing our economy, destroying our arms, becoming hermits with relation to the rest of the world… even if we put everything we could into shrinking and weakening ourselves, we’d still be the big dog for the foreseeable future.

            And with that comes responsibility. I know you don’t like it, but it’s so.

            1. Doug Ross

              Well, you’re okay with the United States becoming bigger and more powerful on a global scale. Many of us are not. Many of us think we have enough problems within our own borders (and on them) that if we expend resources outside them, we’re also making ourselves weaker in the process. We’ve been trying your way for decades and it isn’t getting any better. Why don’t we try making America the best in terms of education, healthcare, hunger, etc. to lead by example instead of leading through military intervention? We can have the strongest defense to protect our country or we can dilute our power across the globe fighting battles we can’t win.

            2. Doug Ross

              If you lived in a high crime neighborhood, would you want your police force to patrol other neighborhoods in other cities?

            3. Brad Warthen Post author

              Doug, there are fundamental assumptions about what the facts are, and even what the questions are, that you and I are so far apart on that it’s tough to communicate. It even makes it hard for us to hear each other.

              For instance, you say, “Well, you’re okay with the United States becoming bigger and more powerful on a global scale.”

              What is that based on? Well, it’s not based in anything I have said. I can’t remember having said that we need to be biggER and MORE powerful than we are (although now that you bring it up, I wouldn’t object to another carrier group or two — but then, I’m a Navy brat).

              But you frame what you hear ME saying that way, because you think of it in terms of there being a choice before us, a decision about whether we will be big and powerful or not. It ignores the fact that we’re there, and that we’re so MUCH bigger and powerful that, as I said above, even if we deliberately adopted self-destructive policies aimed at making ourselves smaller and weaker, we wouldn’t lose our status as the unipolar power during our lifetimes.

              The only DECISION to be made, and it’s in front of us every day, is whether to accept the responsibility that goes with that, and has gone with it ever since 1945, and especially since 1989.

              Fortunately, every leader we’ve had since 1945 has embraced that. And Obama does, too, just less enthusiastically than any other postwar leader. In other words, we’ve never had a president like Rand Paul. For which I am enormously grateful, and I know you disagree.

              Up until now, the American people have, consciously or unconsciously (and it’s mostly been unstated), only elected people who GET IT on this point. I do worry that pressure on both the right and the left these days could elevate someone like Paul, someone who does NOT get it. You would celebrate that.

              You could celebrate it all you want, but it would mean we live in a worse world, one in which other entities — from big ones like China and Putin’s Russia to medium-sized ones like Iran to smaller ones like Hamas and ISIS (although ISIS, or IS, is well on its way to being a medium-sized one) — are all too eager to rush into any vacuum we leave.

              And that matters. It always has mattered, but that was less evident to Americans say in 1940, when we were content to let Hitler roll over Europe and Japan to rape China. None of our business, so many Americans blithely thought, until Pearl Harbor — which didn’t change the equation, it just changed our attitude, which then changed the equation.

              It matters more now than it did then, because the world is so much MORE interconnected. And please, people, don’t get distracted by the fact that I used a WWII analogy. I just did so because most people understand the dynamics in that example. No, I’m not saying ISIS is the Third Reich in terms of power, or that North Korea is Imperial Japan. I’m saying that isolationism today is a less defensible position than it was in a less interconnected world 70-80 years ago.

              Back to my point… What’s under discussion here is NOT whether we will BECOME big and powerful. It’s about what we will do in this universe in which we ARE big and powerful, and will almost certainly remain so for a long time to come. Will we accept the responsibility that is ours or not? That’s what we’re talking about. And I say, yes, of course…

            4. Brad Warthen Post author

              Oh, and on your other question, “If you lived in a high crime neighborhood, would you want your police force to patrol other neighborhoods in other cities?”…

              For the purposes of this analogy, we do NOT live in a high-crime area. Because to work as an analogy, we’d have to be in a neighborhood in which our national security were seriously threatened — say, by Canada and Mexico. That is most decidedly not the case, all the overheated rhetoric over immigration notwithstanding.

              You know who lives in a high-crime area, under this analogy? Israel. And Ukraine. They are truly, profoundly, existentially threatened by their neighbors. The U.S., by comparison, lives in the safest suburb in the world…

            5. Doug Ross

              Your protestations remind me of that saying “Who are you going to believe – me or your lying eyes?” This can be resolved by answering two questions:

              1) Where in the world do you think the U.S. has too much of a military presence?
              2) Where in the world do you think the U.S. needs to be more involved militarily?

              If the answer to #1 is “nowhere” and the answer to #2 is not “nowhere”, you are for more military intervention. It’s that simple.

              The primary fallacy that has been in effect as a holdover America’s triumph in World War II is that we SHOULD be the world’s policeman. The secondary fallacy is that we CAN be. The track record over the past 50 years says otherwise.

              As for Americans voting for the status quo, it’s not because they support your viewpoint. It’s that many of them are either a) ignorant about what is going on or b) been sold a bill of goods time and again by people like Obama who say one thing and do another
              or c) they use The State editorial page method of voting and choose the lesser of two evils.

      2. John

        We don’t really have a great record of success following Rudyard Kipling into proxy wars. Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua….I don’t want to relive the 1980s. Plus it looks like the EU has already surrendered on the issue. France hasn’t cancelled Russian warship sales, Germany keeps buying their natural gas; nobody has even mentioned NATO action. And why would they? Our recent history of interventions doesn’t show much success at developing (or imposing) stable new governments.

    1. Mab

      Your POTUS abbreviation has become a joke. Mitt Romney could have PUTUS back on the map. We have become rather irrelevant of late, don’t you agree?

      1. Silence

        We have lost a lot of credibility, that’s for sure. Don’t try to blame Bush, either. It’s 100% Obama…

        1. Bart

          Wanna bet that before the end of the week, the administration will by using Karinthy’s original theory frequently referred to as the Kevin Bacon, “Six Degrees of Separation” thought process as justification, to link blame back to Bush?

        1. Mab

          Great. You are in the rational camp. This is the Great Divide. It’s not black v. white, d. v. r., mammal v. fish — it’s rational people v. irrational people. Fire!

            1. Mab

              Oh wait. Here it is.

              [ Condi Rice liked Kiss’s ‘Wanna Rock N Roll All Nite and PARTY everyday’]

              Mitt Romney can >”Like this:” <

            2. Mab

              The end of the “long way’ clip — which is totally fabricated of late — brought to you by the >>>Doctor Lobby<<<

              (Nazis all. Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Et. Al.)

  2. bud

    For every misplaced WW II analogy that Brad and others throw out I can throw out a WW I analogy. The president is pursuing a measured response that includes increasing severe sanctions. Frankly I wouldn’t even do that much. But to listen to the war mongers bitch and moan after being so damn wrong about Iraq would be a huge mistake. This is a local issue that can be sorted out by the folks over there. In the meantime we need to stay out of the air space over Ukraine. And we certainly should not take seriously any notion of sending natural gas to Europe. Now that would be the height of folly. Eventually the Russians will find this type of imperialism will end very badly. Giving the necessary rope to do so is pretty much all that’s needed.

  3. bud

    I increasingly believe, he doesn’t like us BEING the big dog. If he could, he would wish it away (and he may be in the process of doing so).

    That’s probably an overstatement but if true we need to give POTUS a big thumbs up. It’s about time we started to disengage from imperialistic misadventures that inevitably just cost money and lives.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Bud, somehow the word’s I’m typing are just not getting through.

      I talk about the moral responsibility that we have in the world, rather like the responsibility that the one rich guy in the one mansion in a village full of poorer people has to his neighbors, and I get back this “imperialistic misadventures” nonsense, which was monotonous when the left started using it in the ’60s and ’70s. (Somehow, the left got really, really confused back then about what the word “imperialism” means. Like Miniver Cheevy, they were born too late. They should have been around when Teddy Roosevelt was president.)

      Rather than a “thumbs-up” the president who truly reneges on that responsibility (which Obama does not fully do; I just worry that he doesn’t embrace it as he should) is as petty and inward as our governor is being with the outrageous comment she made yesterday about those poor children from Central America — which I’m about to go write about now…

      A president who shirks that duty is a real-life Prince Prospero

      1. Doug Ross

        “moral responsibility that we have in the world”

        Which is defined nowhere… it’s a belief not a responsibility.. it’s a belief rooted in post-World War II euphoria which has been degraded over time by the actual reality of our inability to accomplish that lofty goal. We break more things than we fix. We allow a military industrial complex to suck up far too much of our wealth.

      2. bud

        Here’s how the immigration issue and the civil war in Ukraine are different. With kids from Nicaragua we have an obvious humanitarian situation that we can easily handle. Ukraine, on the other hand, is disagreement among the people of that nation as to whether they want to be a united nation with ties to the west or whether part of that nation should become a separate entity with ties to Russia. Where is the US stake in that situation? I would whole-heartidly agree than we should help with any issues that relate to hunger or medical needs. And of course we should condemn shooting down airliners, whoever does it, even if accidental. But in the military situation we should stay neutral just like we didn’t do in 1917, 1950, 1965 or 1980.

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