Lots of other things out there to be wrong about too
Something to bear in mind is that Obama and his advisors are spectacularly (is that strong enough? how about apocalyptically?) mis-informed about Russia. Rather frighteningly so indeed for people who are making such important decisions. For example…
“Russia doesn’t make anything.”
“Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity.”
“The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking.”
“with its economy in tatters.”
The above five have been adequately exploded in numerous pieces on this website and elsewhere. They are, in short… no other way to put it… wrong. Russia makes lots of things; it attracts immigrants second only to the USA; its population is growing; Washington and its followers may not like Putin very much, but he’s an honoured guest in many parts of the world; its economy is doing reasonably well.
What is (scarily, if you think about it) interesting about all these beliefs is how out-of-date they are. They are as old-fashioned as John McCain’s notion that the Russian equivalent of the NYT is Pravda.
Let’s see if we can find another five delusions.
I can’t find a quotation, but it’s evident Obama believes – and certainly many have told him so – that Putin is a sort of Criminal-in-Chief surrounded by lesser criminals and if these lesser criminals can be hurt enough by sanctions, they will overthrow Putin. Here’s the theory voiced by Khodorkovskiy. Here’s another piece of wishful thinking about how fragile Russia is. Not working, is what one would say. And, in a ridiculous attempt to save the theory, we have this notion: the theory was true but it isn’t any more. Anything but admit that Putin and his team are strongly supported because of their record of success and that Russians, of all people (history, people, a thousand years of stubborn defiance and eventual victory) aren’t to be bullied. They believe they are at war and they rally around the leader; always have, always will.
Obama’s circle believe that they can fool the Russians (as easily as they can fool their own people). While Western media outlets are in full shriek over Nemtsov’s murder, not even Putin’s opposition thinks he was responsible for it; nor does one of Nemtsov’s closest associates. Even if Putin were in the habit of killing his critics (and how many prosperous and long-lived Putin opponents, without any shred of irony, will assure us that he is?), only the most credulous would think he would do it against a photo backdrop of the Kremlin. Russians know, even if consumers of managed Western media outlets do not, that there have been too many conveniently timed events of late.
Obama’s entourage believe they are (in their boss’s absence of course) the smartest guys in the room. Well, Dear Reader, you decide how small the room is. Here’s US Secretary of State John Kerry keeping it real. “Russia Today can be heard in English. (Takes off glasses to show sincerity) Do we have an equivalent that can be heard in Russian?”. Yes, actually, you have, and it’s been broadcasting away for most of your life. Who briefs these people?
Putin is short and that somehow means something. I wouldn’t bet on it. And let’s stop talking about bare chests.
The tenth reason. You – Washington – you can’t take on everybody at once. You can’t do regime changes in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Hungary, Syria, Yemen, Czech Republic, China, Macedonia all at once. You can’t have wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Ukraine, Yemen, Somalia, Uganda all at once. “During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) deployed to 133 countries”. “According to the report, US forces are deployed and equipped for combat in no less than fourteen countries!” Big as you are you’re not big enough to take on everybody at once. It’s all falling apart. Every day there’s another crisis caused by what you did about the last crisis. Listen to some Chinese advice: Washington’s involvement in Ukraine could “become a distraction in its foreign policy… The United States is unwilling to see its presence in any part of the world being weakened, but the fact is its resources are limited, and it will be to some extent hard work to sustain its influence in external affairs.” “A distraction”, “limited”, “to some extent hard work”… Typically enigmatic but clear enough. It’s over. Live with it.
And one bonus reason. If we get rid of Putin, all will be well. If we get rid of Qaddafi, all will be well. If we get rid of Saddam Hussein, all will be well. If we get rid of Milosevic, all will be well. If we get rid of Aidid, all will be well.
Oh, and by the way, Russia is not Libya.
There’s lots of other things they don’t know, but as I’m concerned about Russia here, I’ll just enumerate a few. They don’t know Lecture 1 of Ukraine 101. They’re constantly being fooled by the “moderate opposition” they fund. Always surprised when something goes wrong. Like Yemen, just after boasting about it. Of course it helps that the MSM is covering your back. But that just leads to more hubris.
These people are in charge of our destinies. They don’t know what they’re doing, (“speaking languages that other people understand”, “I don’t know what the term is in Austrian”, not only the wrong word, but the wrong alphabet, “I think there is too much of, ‘Oh, look, this is what intervention has wrought’ … one has to be careful about overdrawing lessons”) and nobody is there to tell them.