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Friday, Aug 22, 2014

The Right Stuff

A politics blog by Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson's baseball card - if he had one - would report he throws left, writes right. In his columns and blog, "The Right Stuff," southpaw Jackson provides insight into the evolving human condition from a distinctly conservative point of view.

The danger in Obama’s mastery of false choices

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The supreme master of the false choice, who also is the leader of the (suddenly somewhat less-) free world, is at it again. Regarding the dicey situation in Ukraine, President Obama has ruled out any sort of military intervention, saying the United States will mobilize, instead, “all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international coalition that sends a clear message.”

This isn’t fooling Paul Mirengoff, one of the contributors to PowerLine, who writes, “The clear message will be this — please, please don’t invade more territory.”

Mirengoff continues:

“In ruling out military action, Obama explained that ‘the Ukrainians don’t want [an actual war with Russia], nobody would want that.’ But if Russia continues to devour their country, the Ukrainians are no less likely to want a war than any of Russia’s other neighbors or former client states would be under similar circumstances.

“Accordingly, Obama’s statement can be read by Russia as ruling out any U.S. military to stop any future aggression within the former Soviet Union and perhaps within its entire former sphere of influence. Perhaps Obama would have been better advised not to have made this statement.

“The other problem with the statement is that, to use Obama’s former pet phrase, it presents us with a false choice. America’s options aren’t limited to taking military action and ‘mobilizing diplomatic resources to send a clear message.’

“We could, for example, provide weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. [Jimmy Carter, scarcely a tough guy, found enough spine to do at least that in 1980 when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. – TRS] Ukraine could then decide whether to use them in the event of further Russian aggression. Ukraine has, in fact, requested weapons and ammunition, but Obama turned down the request.

“I suspect we have not supplied Ukraine with weapons because we want to diminish the prospect of Ukrainian resistance in the event Russia moves into Eastern Ukraine (which Russia seems at least as likely as not to do). Ukrainian resistance is not in Obama’s interest, as he likely sees it, because the resulting bloodbath would further embarrass his administration.”

There are other responses available to the Obama administration that have nothing to do with putting American boots on Ukrainian soil. Such as resuming the program to put missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. Or staging elaborate military exercises with NATO allies in the Baltic states. Or sending assorted U.S. warships for a visit to the Black Sea. Or all of the above, plus a reconsideration of arming Ukraine’s military, which essentially stood down in 1994 (while surrendering the third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons on the planet) based on assurances of territorial integrity granted, and promised, by the United States, United Kingdom and Russia.

The Wall Street Journal provides some insight about the role American fecklessness will play in future attempts to limit nuclear proliferation. Because the weak brew produced by false choices is not without bitter consequences.


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