Obama does something right

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By John Barnhart

    I’m always amazed when President Barack Obama actually does something right. It’s so out of character for him. I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then, and maybe that’s what President Obama has done in the midst of an otherwise incompetent, blundering foreign policy. Anyway, I have to give him credit for handling this situation well.
    After Valdimir Vladimirich Putin took possession of Crimea (the Russians believe they are just reclaiming what’s actually theirs), some East European countries that were under Soviet domination became very nervous. The Baltic States are especially nervous. They were part of the Soviet Union, and the Russian Empire before that, and they have a significant ethnic Russian and Russian speaking population. Vladimir Vladimirovich used protecting ethnic Russians and native Russian speakers as his excuse for using military force to take possession of Crimea.
    These countries are also NATO members and President Obama took action in relation to their worries, in light of their NATO membership, that I think is correct. President Obama has sent a small number of F-16s to Poland and a small number of F-15s to the Baltic States to add to existing NATO Baltic Sea patrols. He’s also sent some electronic surveillance planes to Eastern European countries bordering Ukraine.
    I believe this will remind Vladimir Vladimirovich that any military actions against the Baltic States, or Poland, will risk war with NATO.  Actually, I don’t think Vladimir Vladimirovich has any intention of trying to bite pieces off these countries, or incorporate any of them entirely into Russia. Russians see Ukraine as an actual piece of Russia that broke loose when the Soviet Union collapsed. They don’t seem to view these other countries this way, so I think Vladimir Vladimirovich will leave them alone. However, it’s wise to remind him that any action against them risks a confrontation with NATO.  I don’t think he would want to take that risk.
    The Baltic States are still nervous and a high ranking government official in one of them was quoted by The Economist a couple weeks ago asking for large deployments of American aircraft and troops to these countries as well as deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Baltic Sea.
    This would be unwise. Besides that fact that deploying an aircraft carrier to the Baltic would be a strategically foolish move, forward deployment of NATO forces to Eastern Europe would seriously escalate an already tense situation. The Russians could easily interpret this as a “they’re gonna get us” message and react accordingly. Let’s not forget that a “they’re gonna get us” mentality on the part of more than one country, back in 1914, turned a small war in the Balkans into the worst war the world had ever seen, up to that point.
    Right now, however, it’s all quiet on the eastern front and I don’t think it’s going to escalate into a military confrontation between NATO and Russia. I’m sure that Vladimir Vladimirovich does not want a military confrontation. Barack Obama isn’t going to escalate the situation either, but I don’t think it’s due to any wisdom on his part. The blind squirrel analogy applies because President Obama is a weak and indecisive leader who will freeze if faced with a potential military conflict. We saw that happen last year when Bashar al-Assad crossed President Obama’s poison gas red line. This time, President Obama’s default indecisiveness has worked out for the better.
    Other than that, the rest of President Obama’s foreign policy is as much of a train wreck as his domestic policy. About the only good thing I can say about his second term is that it’s his last term and, come Jan. 20, 2017, we will be rid of him. Let’s hope we don’t jump out of the frying pan, into the fire, by electing somebody even worse in 2016.