With diplomacy having failed miserably to resolve the Russian annexation of Crimea, and soon East Ukraine (and with John Kerry in charge of it, was there ever any doubt), the US is moving to the heavy artillery. First, moments ago, the US DOE announced in a shocking announcement that it would proceed with the first draw down and sale of crude from the US strategic petroleum reserve, the first since June 2011, in what it said was a "test sale to check the operational capabilities of system infrastructure", but is really just a shot across the bow at Putin for whom high commodity prices are orders of magnitude more important than how the Russian stock market performs. And now, as Bloomberg just reported, the US has escalated even further, citing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who "has claimed that in the case of an escalation of unrest in Crimea, the U.S. Army is ready to back up Ukraine and its allies in Europe with military actions."I have to say that I am appalled by the sight of a Chairman of the Joint Chief seriously implying that NATO has treaty obligations towards a country which is not even member of NATO, seriously implying that Russia is a threat to NATO or seriously suggesting that NATO forces could be used against Russia. Yes, Dempsey did put quite a few "ifs" around this statements, but the general impression is, of course, of a direct military threat to Russia.
So much for those peaceful hour long phone calls between Obama and Putin.
According to the Web site of the Atlantic Council, Dempsey said that "he's been talking to his military counterparts in Russia, but he's also sending a clear message to Ukraine and members of NATO that the U.S. military will respond militarily if necessary."
"We're trying to tell [Russia] not to escalate this thing further into Eastern Ukraine, and allow the conditions to be set for some kind of resolution in Crimea. We do have treaty obligations with our NATO allies. And I have assured them that if that treaty obligation is triggered [in Europe], we would respond," Dempsey said.
According to the General, the incursion of Russian troops into the Crimea creates risks for all the countries of Europe and NATO allies.
"If Russia is allowed to do this, which is to say move into a sovereign country under the guise of protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine, it exposes Eastern Europe to some significant risk, because there are ethnic enclaves all over Eastern Europe and the Balkans," Dempsey said.
How is Russia likely to respond?
There is a Russian popular saying which exactly covers this kind of situation. It goes like this: "Пугать ежа голой задницей" which can roughly be translated as "to scare a hedgehog with a naked butt".
If anything, Dempsey's threats will only serve to make the US and NATO look weaker to the Russians. Culturally, Russians have always looked down on threats which they typically see as a sign of weakness. If you are strong - why would you need to make threats? Did you notice that during the first 10 days of the crisis in the Ukraine Putin did not make a single TV appearance? And then, he took action before he decided to speak (sending the Polite Armed Men in Green to Crimea). In the Russian mentality a barking dog is far less dangerous than a quiet one and all that Dempsey will achieve with his latest outburst is to trigger even more contempt for the western elites than before.
The Kremlin already knows that Obama is a clown. Now they have a confirmation that Dempsey is another clown. Who does this leave? Biden? He is a complete buffoon. Kerry? Smart man, but a pathological liar who simply cannot be trusted. Not Susan Rice - she is a warmongering maniac (see her track record on Syria). And EU politicians are, frankly, no better.
So, in my opinion, this is one of the biggest dangers the world faces today: the western leader are not only evil and immoral, they are also hopelessly stupid, incompetent and arrogant. As a result - there is really nobody in the western capitals which Russia can talk to. Having put their full political credibility and weight behind a sad and nauseating gang of neo-Fascist insurgents, the western leaders are now stuck with the consequences of their own actions and not a single one of them has the courage or moral probity to admit that they completely FUBARed the situation.
As I have written recently, the US and NATO have no rational military options in the Ukraine. But a combination of arrogance stupidity can trigger clearly unwinnable wars as was the case in the 2006 Israeli attack on Hezbollah and in the 2008 Georgian attack on Russia (both of which were 100% backed and even directed from the USA).
Is there really nobody who can stop these maniacs?
Frankly, this is as sad as it is frightening.
UPDATE: "S.E." has just contributed a very interesting comment (thanks!) which I think is important enough to be placed here in-extenso. He wrote:
Dempsey: this is actually from his interview on friday with PBS Newshour, but with a slight twist from Bloomberg that makes it seem like he threatens military intervention in Crimea. On Sic Semper Tyrannis, which might be well known to some of the readers of this blog, the interview was interpreted at a push AGAINST war fever, see http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2014/03/dempsey-pushes-back-against-war-fever-harper.html#more
I will ignore the fact that Dempsey seems to think that its the Russians which are reneging on the February 21st agreement, and point out the real key sentence here:
"Our role, as the military, is to seek ways to influence this without it being escalatory. And, by the way, I do have this open line with my Russian counterpart. So, everything that we have done, I tell him, here's what were doing. Here's why were doing it. We disagree fundamentally about your claim of legitimacy, but, as militaries, let's try to avoid escalating this thing."That is *exactly* what I would hope the top US and Russian military commanders to do. So it appears that Bloomberg took Dempsey's statements at least out of context and that Zero Hedge and myself should have been far more cautious about this. Well, all I can say is "kudos to SE!!" for pointing this out to me. At the very least, this makes me breathe easier :-)
Guys, please make sure to read the post on Sic Semper Tyrannis. I will to find a video link to the full interview (if you have it - please post it in the comments section).
Thanks and kind regards,