Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | April 16, 2014

Ukraine on the brink

New post up at Liberty Unyielding.  Enjoy!

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  1. On this subject I sent the following letter to Professor T. Snyder of Yale a month ago:

    Dear Professor Snyder,

    I have been following events in the Middle East very closely now for about a year, with particular attention paid to the actions of Russia, and have written letters to people in high places concerning the Syrian civil war. I have called for a NATO embargo on war materials and fighting men, which would include a naval blockade of Syrian and Lebanese ports, as well as measures intended to assure that Iraq would no longer allow Iranian shipments to cross its territory en route to Syria. That would seem a more appropriate response than entering in to the war ourselves, as is commonly debated.

    I have just finished reading your piece on developments in Ukraine posted by CNN, raising the question of whether the “EU”, or I would say, NATO, is finished if Russia proceeds with its invasion, as expected.

    My answer is yes. But I would also say that NATO is already a mostly hollow defensive alliance; and if it does not do something about Syria, it is finished, regardless of what happens in the Ukraine.

    You ask if the European Union can defend its values. I ask, what do values have to do with it ? I ask, what values does it have ? I ask, does it care about what is going on in Syria ? Does it care about the fact that Russia is sending arms and war supplies to the Assad regime, including long-range “hypersonic” cruise missiles ?? If not, then why should it care about what goes on in Ukraine ??

    If NATO will not stand up to Russia where it can, in its own back yard, then it will also not stand up to Russia where it can not. Such places include Ukraine, but are not limited to it. The Baltic states that have joined NATO are also indefensible by NATO. NATO has been weakened by expansion. Can it have the will to defend its members that are indefensible ?

    But can NATO do something to forestall a Russian invasion of Ukraine ? It most certainly can, by pursuing its own strategic objectives elsewhere more forcefully, that elsewhere being a place where Russia does not have a leg to stand on: the Mediterranean Sea.

    “What is to be done”, then ? NATO can block the Bosphorus to Russian shipping, without so much as a shot fired, by borrowing a page from their own playbook. It can deliver an ultimatum to Russia regarding Syria. It can state that Russian warships are no longer welcome in the Mediterranean, and stop them from entering it. It can flood the Mediterranean with so many warships following those Russians that are presently there, such as Adm. Kuznetsov, that every direction they turn, they will see a NATO warship. They can close their ports to Russian ships, and prevail upon other bordering states to do so, as well. Eventually, they will have to leave; and they dare not resort to force in that region.

    And if the Russians do not like this, well, NATO can bomb Syria into the stone age, finishing the work that the Assad regime has begun. The choice is theirs. Do you think Russia would intervene to stop us in Syria ? Answer: no. Then why, and how does one suppose that they would forcibly contest a NATO naval blockade of Syria ??

    So how does NATO stop a Russian invasion of Ukraine ? If at all, by giving its leaders something more troublesome to think about. If it were to do this, V. Putin would become the laughing stock of Russia. He would be booed at sporting events. P.M. Erdogan would be hailed as a hero in Turkey, which would be offered E.U. member. Iran would be deterred and would settle. Hezbollah would wither and die on the vine. And something far worse than a Russian takeover of Ukraine would be avoided: an all out regional Middle East war. Obama could even get back to discussing arms control with a new Russian president.

    Very truly yours,
    Tyler P. Harwell

    P.S., I went to Kiev with the Yale Russian Chorus in 1971, and liked it much more than Moscow.

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  2. TPH – Thanks for posting your thoughtful letter. I agree, it would have been useful to try to deter Russia’s escapade in Ukraine by applying pressure elsewhere, in places where the pressure would be unbearable.

    It would still be useful to make Russia REGRET invading Ukraine.There is still time to turn this thing around, even if the whole of mankind is out of position to undo the annexation of Crimea.

    I think many of us appreciate anew how Winston Churchill felt in the1930s, as he watched Britain and France accede passively to Nazi aggression and call it “peace.” Obama and the EU-3 are doing exactly the same thing now, pretending that the stillborn “deal” on Ukraine changes the facts on the ground, when it doesn’t. All it does is put a “Certified by SHAPE” stamp on Putin’s aggressive move.

    Our times are destined to get more interesting, unfortunately. And yet it will all have been avoidable.


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