**Posted by Phineas
Really, all that seems able to come out of that mouth of his is an endless stream of meaningless blather that would make Sir Humphrey Appleby proud.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that “all options are on the table” when it comes to steps the U.S. can take to hold Russia accountable for its military movements in Ukraine, including economic sanctions and potentially military action.
In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos today on “This Week,” Kerry said Russian troops moving into the Ukrainian region of Crimea was “a military act of aggression” and that the U.S. will move swiftly to impose penalties if Russian President Vladimir Putin does not withdraw his troops.
While military force is among the options President Barack Obama is considering, Kerry said the U.S. and its allies hope they can avoid such action.
“The hope of the U.S. and everybody in the world is not to see this escalate into a military confrontation,” he said.
The indirect language of diplomacy uses phrases that convey very specific messages without putting the other side publicly on the spot, in a situation where he cannot back down without being humiliated. And when you say “all options are on the table,” John, that includes military action. You’re essentially telling the other side that, should we not get satisfaction, we’re willing to go to war. This is the kind of talk you do not engage in lightly, especially when dealing with another nuclear power. The very idea of a “military option” in Ukraine is insane for any number of reasons.
I wonder if Kerry even knows what the words he’s saying actually mean. If he doesn’t, he’s a bigger dunce than I thought, which would be impressive. If he does and somehow thinks that will intimidate Vladimir Putin, then he’s dangerously incompetent. Putin has taken the measure of the Obama administration after years of watching it in action, and he knows darn well their threats are meaningless. After abandoning Poland and the Czech Republic over missile defense, after the laughable reset button, after cutting and running in Iraq and Afghanistan, and after the disaster of Obama’s Syria policy, Putin knows any threats from this American administration are empty. He probably rolled his eyes and laughed when Kerry said all options were on the table.
Then there was this:
Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “stunning, willful” choice to invade Ukrainian territory and warned of possible sanctions.
“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country,” Kerry said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” one of several appearances on network interview shows.
“It’s serious in terms of the modern manner in which countries resolve problems,” Kerry said.
“That’s not the act of somebody who’s strong,” Kerry added, saying Putin is acting out of “weakness” and “desperation.”
I can think of many ways to describe President Putin, but “weak” and “desperate” wouldn’t even occur to me.
On the contrary, Vladimir Putin is a revanchist thug who, seeing that Washington won’t do anything meaningful (1) to oppose him, is going to push as hard as he can until someone dares to make him stop. His goal is not just to rebuild the Russian/Soviet empire, but forge a Eurasian Union (2) as an alternative bloc against the US and the EU. The bleatings of a Boston Brahmin about Putin being out of step with the times are meaningless to him
Secretary of State John Kerry (3) embodies the ideals of liberal internationalism, and brutal realist Vladimir Putin is showing just how empty they and he are.
(1) For a sketch of the meaningful things we could do to stand up to Putin’s thuggery, check out Tom Rogan’s recommendations, especially that to, borrowing a phrase, “drill, baby, drill.”
(2) This is some scary stuff.
(3) To think he almost became president in 2004. I may have nightmares.
UPDATE: Speaking of Putin’s “weakness and desperation”…
Those, my friends, are Russian mobile artillery pieces. On Ukrainian territory. Don’t they look weak and desperate? (h/t Jim Geraghty)
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)