Crimea on the Bayou

By

Leonard Zwelling

         Despite the American President’s reluctance to admit it,
Crimea is now part of Russia and is likely to stay a part of Russia. After all,
who is going to take it away? The Europeans? No chance. They need the Russian
oil and gas to get through next winter and the United States cannot build
pipelines or ports fast enough to get sufficient American (or even Saudi) oil
and gas to the Germans in time for Christmas. All Putin had to do was turn in
his G8 team jersey and he doesn’t like to wear shirts anyway.

         You may call Vlad the Annexer a bully, but he sure did get
away with it. Mr. Obama forgot to do his homework for the past 6 years. While he
was wowing the civilized world with his humanitarianism, his reaching out to
the Arab Street and his Nobel Peace Prize (not sure where he got it, Cracker
Jack box?), the rest of the vicious leaders running the countries with whom we
share this planet were moving to consolidate their holdings and expand them when
needed. From Syria, to Iran, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Russia to Europe,
America is looking more like a paper tiger than ever. What is so humorous is
that when Mitt Romney named Russia as the greatest threat to America during the
2012 campaign, people (including Mr. Obama) scoffed. No more.

         DePutin has vexed 3 presidents now. No one seems to be able
to figure him out. How about the obvious? He wants to reconstitute the Soviet
Union and restart the Cold War so that Russian influence can balance or
supersede that which is on the wane, the power of the US to project power.

         OK, what do we do now?

         First, we ask the former East Germans whether or not they
want to speak Russian and ask the Poles, the Hungarians, the Czechs, etc the
same question. I suspect that the taste of freedom they gained after the end of
the Cold War and the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact is not something from which
they wish to retreat.

         Second, don’t threaten to rattle a saber unless you are
prepared to use it. The President’s display of non-resolve over his drawing of
red lines over Syria’s use of WMDs is inexcusable.

         Third, pull out every stop in the economics sanction
playbook against Putie. Bank accounts frozen. Visas cancelled. No tourism to
Russia. No business with Russia. And definitely no American athletes in Russia.
Will this hurt us? You bet, but if the G7 led this movement and a coalition of
the EU, the Arab OPEC states and some friends in South America and Africa could
be pulled together, we might have the makings of a real blockade of Russian
imperialism. (Now if we can only get a grip on our own).

We
need the wile and guts of JFK and the resolve and diplomatic skills of Bush 41
to make it through this one.

         Fourth, find a way to end the slaughter in Syria and what
may be coming in Egypt.

         There is no call for war. It will just drain our treasure
and our national will as W demonstrated. Our job is, as George C. Scott said in
Patton, to make the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country. Freezing the money
of the oligarchs is a start. Making the Russian people pay for their support of
a misguided leader through economic not military means, may be a better idea
even yet. There are far more persuasive ways to inflict pain than simply
inflicting physical pain. The problem is that a Berlin airlift to the Ukraine is not a great idea either.

         What I am advocating is using every available weapon short
of military force (but never excluding that possibility) while clearly telling
Putin what the West wants and expects in international behavior. Poppy Bush did
this well in Kuwait. All he wanted was Saddam out and that’s what he got. Since
then, Sonny Boy W screwed the pooch when he invaded two sovereign nations, cost
our country financial and personnel resources and frankly annoyed the very
people we need to be able to call upon right now, our putative post-WWII allies
in NATO and beyond.

         This, of course, brings me to a similar situation closer to
home. As we are reading in the Chronicle, the UT System is so ferklempt about
the Chancellor’s leaving, the Regents warring and the UT Austin President
trying to survive, that no one with any power to do anything even cares what
the heck is happening at 1515. But we do.

         Much as DePutin has invaded Crimea, DePinho has run off with
the keys to the MD Anderson kingdom and more importantly the combination to the
safe. Given this, what is there to do?

         To
me, it’s still about the money. Deny DePutin de money and he may act more
appropriately. Why not try that at Anderson?

Leonard Zwelling