Description

Edge of Chaos is a political podcast starring Joe Ryan and Neurotoxin. Its aim is to have a free-flowing discussion of news and current events that also examines the empirical outcomes of public policy, avoiding biases based on ideology and policy intentions. Listener discretion is both advised and encouraged.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cautious Credit for Obama (For Once)

My worst enemy wouldn't accuse me of being an Obama supporter, and all you need to do to see that is scroll down the blog. But being an empiricist that gives all politicians credit when they're effective - I have to say maybe his stance toward Putin isn't as counter-productive as I feared.

I've said from the start that Putin has nothing. His military is weak and ill-equipped and doesn't support him, his own people hate him, and his economy cannot sustain a conflict for any significant period of time. My concern was that Obama, as well as leaders of some of the EU countries, would buy into the lies he has thrown together to look powerful and intimidating and sign some sort of agreement for us to follow and for him to cheat on. It's not far-fetched at all. This was the imbecilic foreign policy of every President from Kennedy to Carter that kept the USSR alive for an unnecessary 30 years. But despite speculation about Obama/Merkel/Cameron/Hollande bending over for some ridiculous agreement like the one they signed with Iran, this hasn't happened.

They are refusing to either budge or attack, forcing Putin to back up his bluff which I reiterate he has no capacity to do. This is effective for a number of reasons. Occupations, even of somewhat friendly territories like the Crimea, are expensive - and Putin's economy is hanging by a thread despite his manufactured statistics, with all that Olympic debt not helping. Shitty economies are what gets already unpopular dictators lynched; we've seen this all over the world in the last 5 years. On top of this, any act of aggression (even verbal) by the West would instantly be cherrypicked and spun by his State-run media as a rallying cry for his own citizens. This method isn't overly effective in the modern era, especially with Russians who have 100 years of experience in not trusting their own media. But nevertheless the lack of aggression even takes away that opportunity, leaving Putin to flat out lie to his own people to continue to justify his actions. Even if the dreaded Crimea referendum happens and Crimeans 'vote' under the barrel of a gun to be annexed by Russia; it's becoming clear from the pro-Ukraine protests there that Putin will be unable to hold that region without a military occupation - forcing him toward more expensive and unpopular policies and bringing him closer to domestic revolution.

Long story short, the West has turned this into an endurance race which Putin simply does not have the resources to win. This "let them choke on their own incompetence" was Reagan's strategy and it brought down the USSR. It's effective, relatively inexpensive, and keeps the limited violence in the dictator's own front yard - way ahead of both Carter-style globalist pandering and Bush Jr-style belligerent dickwaving. I still dislike Obama for a LONG list of reasons, but I cautiously give him credit for his handling of this crisis so far. I refuse to be inconsistent with my policy analysis just for the sake of entertaining fans that hate Obama - if you want that, turn on Hannity.

-Toxin

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