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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Playing Hockey With Putin": Yes, We're Pucked!

In his latest doozy of a New York Times op-ed entitled "Playing Hockey With Putin" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/09/opinion/friedman-playing-hockey-with-putin.html?smid=tw-TomFriedman&seid=auto), Thomas Friedman tells us (my emphasis in red):

"Moreover, we can’t help Ukraine unless we and the European Union have a serious renewable energy and economic sanctions strategy — which requires us to sacrifice — to undermine Putin and Putinism, because Ukraine will never have self-determination as long as Putin and Putinism thrive. Putin’s foreign policy and domestic policy are inextricably linked: His domestic policy of looting Russia and keeping himself permanently in power with oil and gas revenue, despite a weakening economy, seems to require adventures like Ukraine that gin up nationalism and anti-Westernism to distract the Russian public. And are we ready to play dirty, too? Putin is busy using pro-Russian Ukrainian proxies to take over government buildings in Eastern Ukraine — to lay the predicate either for a Russian invasion there or de facto control there by Russia’s allies."

Friedman's conclusion (again, my emphasis in red):

"We need a strategy to help Ukraine and to undermine Putinism today — and to reintegrate Russia tomorrow. It’s a big, big lift. So let’s be honest with ourselves and with the Ukrainians. If Putin’s playing hockey and we’re not, Ukrainians need to know that now."

Excuse me, but who is this "we" to which the Lone Ranger ("Well Tonto, Looks like we're surrounded!") Tom refers? It was Obama who promised that in his second term he would be much more "flexible" with Putin.

Tell the Ukrainians if we are also playing hockey? The Ukrainians don't need to be told anything. They already know. They asked the Poles and the Czechs - after Obama decided, as a gesture to Putin, against installing a missile defense system in their countries - whether they could trust America's president. The answer came back, "Forget it, the man is living in a fantasy world of his own making."

More recently and more to the point, Obama refused in March to provide Ukraine with defensive weaponry for fear it might provoke Putin (see: http://www.nationaljournal.com/white-house/in-ukraine-as-in-syria-the-obama-doctrine-rules-no-military-aid-20140320).

Obama is a golfer who doesn't play hockey, and frankly, we, meaning the West, are pucked.

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