Obama’s Vacuum of Power Made Russian-Turkey Mess Possible

By on 11.24.15 | 1:40PM

It’s really going to hit the fan after Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 fighter-interceptor jet for allegedly violating its airspace on Tuesday. Both the Russians and the Turks are madder than wet hens with Vladimir Putin calling it a “stab in the back by accomplices of terrorists” and other less-than diplomatic niceties, while Turkey rattles its sabers over the territorial integrity of its long border with Syria.

According to the Turks, the Russian aircraft repeatedly was warned by ground controllers that it was slopping over the border, but the warnings were ignored. As a result, two Turkish F-16s were sent up to take care of business.

Numerous reports have the two-man crew bailing out with their fate uncertain, although some say one crewman’s body was discovered by Syrian rebel forces operating in the area. ISIS does not control that portion of Syria.

Turkey Shoots Down Russian Fighter Jet Over Syrian Border

By on 11.24.15 | 11:34AM

This morning, news outlets are reporting that Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi fighter jet somewhere along the Turkey-Syria border.

According to Turkey, they warned the fighter jet it was "repeatedly' crossing into Turkish airspace and had been warned before it was attacked. Russia says the aircraft was well inside Syrian airspace and has promised "serious consequences."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane had been attacked when it was 1 km (0.62 mile) inside Syria and warned of "serious consequences" for what he termed a stab in the back administered by "the accomplices of terrorists".

"We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today," Putin said, as Russian and Turkish shares fell on fears of an escalation between the former Cold War enemies.

Cold War II? World War III?

By on 7.31.14 | 4:54PM

A reporter asked President Obama on Tuesday if ratcheted sanctions placed on Russia by America and the EU marked “a new Cold War.” The United Kingdom’s Common Defense Committee said Thursday that NATO is unprepared for further aggression from Russia. Roger Cohen of the New York Times has explained in the Atlantic why World War III is not so unimaginable after all. It has become apparent that Eastern Europe is unstable, and in a world knit tightly together by technology and treaties, that instability may prove for everyone inescapable.

Obama Follows Through on New Sanctions

By on 7.29.14 | 4:53PM

President Obama affirmed his belief, in a press conference this afternoon, that Russia holds the keys to future peace in Eastern Ukraine. He announced plans to follow through on promises of further sanctions against Russia, saying that he and the EU were coordinating an attack on key sectors of the Russian economy, particularly in energy and investing.

“We are united in our view that the situation in Ukraine ought to be resolved diplomatically,” he said. “We’ve also made it clear…that if Russia continues on its path the cost on Russia will continue to grow.” He went on to describe this latest move as, “The most significant and wide-ranging sanctions to date.”

The president described the attack on Flight MH17 as senseless, and promised that America would ensure that justice was done, explicitly assigning responsibility to pro-Russian separatists. He was, however, quick to show that he had the support and agreement of many of the world’s leaders. Throughout his speech, he walked a balance between speaking in terms of strong American leadership and international consonance.

The Obama Watch

The Gang That Couldn’t Speak Straight

By 7.22.14

Great piece by former colleague Alyssa Mastromonaco who defines smart, savvy and fashionable.

Thus began a tweet on Thursday by Jen Psaki, the execrable State Department spokeswoman who thought it would be a good idea to depart from that day’s shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 over the Ukraine by Russian separatists, if not actual Russian military operators, using a SA-11 missile system.

It was the second Psaki gaffe of the day, as she had already opened her daily briefing not with reaction to the downing of the plane, but rather a series of minutiae so insignificant that Fox News’s Shepard Smith angrily denounced her as “highly inappropriate” for wasting airtime.

Polls Give a Nod to Non-Interventionists

By on 7.21.14 | 3:12PM

As politicians across the country continue to fight amongst themselves over wedge issues that the average voter does not care about—specifically birth control—Ukraine, Iraq, Israel, and several other countries are on fire. As foreign policy continues to come to the forefront, a debate is raging over what involvement the United States should have in helping settle these crises. One thing, however, is clear: the McCains and Grahams of the Senate are losing popularity.

According to a poll done by Politico, while Republicans have a seven-point advantage on foreign policy, the hawks are losing their edge by a wide margin:

In the big picture, two-thirds of respondents agreed with the statement that U.S. military actions should be “limited to direct threats to our national security.” Only 22 percent agreed with the statement that as a “moral leader,” the United States “has a responsibility to use its military to protect democracy around the globe."

Obama Calls Out Putin Over Plane Crash

By on 7.18.14 | 2:55PM

President Obama called out Russian President Vladimir Putin for escalating the conflict in eastern Ukraine during an address to the White House press corps on the downed Malaysia Airlines passenger jet late Friday morning. He described the event as “an outrage of unspeakable proportions,” though he said at this time only one American citizen is known to have been aboard the aircraft.

He confirmed that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 “was shot down over Ukraine near the Russian border,” adding that American intelligence found that “evidence indicates the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists.” The president was careful to not assign direct blame for the shooting, but did enumerate the recent spate of aircraft downed by militia-launched missiles. He pointed out, however, that the separatists were supported by Russia and could not engage in the level of military action they had achieved without Russian weapons and training.

Passenger Jet Shot Down in Eastern Ukraine

By on 7.17.14 | 1:48PM

Malaysia Airlines lost a plane in Ukrainian airspace near the Ukraine-Russia border Thursday. The company’s official Twitter page posted at 11:36 a.m. EST that it had “lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam." Reuters reported that all 295 people aboard are dead. The jet came down over Donetsk, a pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist stronghold, crashing some twenty-five miles from the Russian border. The Russian news source Interfax reportedly broke the story citing Russian aviation officials. Its website was inaccessible as the story broke. The Associated Press reports that Anton Gerashenko, Ukraine’s interior minister, wrote on his Facebook profile that it was shot down by a Buk missile system.

Ukraine is Going Somewhere, But Where?

By on 7.8.14 | 10:44AM

Ukrainian separatists have withdrawn from a number of their strongholds in recent days, retreating to, and fortifying, the regional capital of Donetsk and a few other cities, in what is being described as a tactical decision. After Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gave up on a cease-fire with the pro-Russian rebels, a Ukrainian offensive, facilitated by an apparently revamped military and American aid, has effectively cornered the separatists in what has been called the People’s Republic of Donetsk.