What should we do about Ukraine?

(Off-topic indulgence due to the story's importance – promoted by Colorado Pols)

There's been a ton of opinions here about what we should do in The Ukraine. They've run the gamut from essentially nothing (except saying we're upset) to starting WW III. So, let's say Obama asks you to join a meeting of his national security team. What would you suggest.

And why you think it would work?

Here's my idea. We pass a law providing the government with the power it needs to effectively find money laundering. And pressure Europe to do the same. Then focus (at first) on all of the billions the Russian leaders have stashed in our banks.

It's non-violent, good policy regardless, and it will absolutely get the attention of the Kleptocracy running Russia:

Moscow is not nervous. Russia’s elites have exposed themselves in a gigantic manner – everything they hold dear is now locked up in European properties and bank accounts. Theoretically, this makes them vulnerable. The EU could, with a sudden rush of money-laundering investigations and visa bans, cut them off from their wealth. But, time and time again, they have watched European governments balk at passing anything remotely similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which bars a handful of criminal-officials from entering the United States.

Brussels today, Russia believes, talks about human rights but no longer believes in it. Europe is really run by an elite with the morality of the hedge fund: Make money at all costs and move it offshore.

Threaten their money and you will get Russia's attention. It will require our politicians put what's best for the world ahead of what's best for the banks. This might be important enough that a majority might do so.

It definitely beats a Civil War in THe Ukraine that no matter how distant we try to hold ourselves, can easily suck all of Europe into it.

33 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Andrew Carnegie says:

    David, I think that is a start.  I would add the following.

    Kick'em out of the G-8, bar access to US banking system, isolate them economically by all means availiable, kick out all of their diplomatic folk, do not grant any visas to their citizens.  I would do everything I could, short of sending troops, to inflict pain.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      And then what happens in Syria & Iran where they're cooperating (some) with us? What happens to Europe if they shout off their oil & gas deliveries?

      Do we improve things if we shut off all interaction with everyone there? Having regular people from there come here lets them see directly our society, which hopefully has them think a bit better of democracy.

      • Andrew Carnegie says:

        David, we have been played in both Syria and with Iran.  What do we lose?  In Syria they have not handed over the gas.  In Iran they are still capable of making a nuke.

        If you want to avoid sending in troops and you want to avoid the next Georgia, Ukraine, etc, you need them to pay a price so that is calculated in the next time they are in the mood again.

      • notaskinnycook says:

        Well, gee, David, It's worked so well with Cuba.wink

    • Republican 36 says:

      I agree with you. The Unites States should inflict economic pain on the Russians. The pipelines will be blocked or blown-up only if the Russians invade. 

      Ironically, the oil and gas boom, especially the gas boom, in the U.S., due primarily to fracking, is already having a negative impact on the Russian economy which is based on oil and gas production, because we no longer need to import liquified natural gas. In other words our oil and gas production is now tied directly to our foreign policy. Increased U.S. production will harm the Russians economically even more.

      The Russians are a nation that is not only a hallow shell of what the Soviet Union was, but due to population decline it is weakening as each year passes. We should use our economic muscle to push them back in the Ukraine.

  2. MichaelBowman says:

    The old wars were about oil.  The new wars will be over water and natural gas (and to David's point yesterday, yes, Russia would go to war to maintain conttrol of these pipelines:

    • Andrew Carnegie says:

      Mike, I suggest we do basically all things short of war to inflict pain.

      What do you suggest?

      So far, we have been just talk.

      • ajb says:

        AC, doing "all things short of war" has been frequently used as reason by one side or the other to start one. Need an example? "Weapons fo mass destruction" comes to mind. The Treaty of Versailles is another. To paraphrase G. Gordon Liddy, if you pull out a gun and point it at someone, you better be ready to pull the trigger. 

      • MichaelBowman says:

        AC – you posted a picture over the weekend that insinuates POTUS was a "chicken" for forging food stamp dollars from the mighty military sword. (I assume you are already aware that food stamp use amongst veterans is rising – which made your cartoon all the more ironic).

        I, for one, appreciate the fact the Prez doesn't have a hair trigger on his foreign policy. Deploying our soft power first is always a better strategy than "Ready, Fire, Aim!"

        • ct says:

          03/27/2003, Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Defense Secretary

          "There’s a lot of money to pay for this … the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”

          03/30/2003, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

          "We know where they are [Iraq's weapons of mass destruction]. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

          05/01/2003, George W. Bush, President

          "My fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."  Under the banner "Mission Accomplished."

          05/09/2003, Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Defense Secretary (phone interview with Vanity Fair)

          "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but — hold on one second… [Interupted by DOD attorney]."

          07/02/2003, George W. Bush, President

          "There are some who feel like — that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on!  We've got the force necessary …" 

          07/24/2003, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

          "No. That's someone else's business. Quagmire is — I don't do quagmires."

      • Moderatus says:

        This is ridiculous. The Russians are not ready to go to war with America. They are counting on Obama's weakness. We need to stand up for Ukraine with military force if needed.

        • langelomisterioso says:

          Moddy- I'm a combat veteran of the previous military misadventure buythe South China Sea so if there's any military intervening to be done you just hustle your little con tail down to your nearest Army or Marine recruiter and sign up- specify a combat arms MOS preferably infantry.

        • ct says:

          We need to work with the nations we are allied with in Europe, not launch a unilateral action. Obama's weakness my butt. People like you have no sense or perspecitve. I am so sick of Chickenhawks.  

  3. Ralphie says:

    I guess the most important question is, "What CAN we do about Ukraine?"  There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of options.

  4. mamajama55 says:

    What to do……Mocking Putin? I can do that all day.







    Boycotts work, over long periods of time, but how would we find out which companies to target?

    Alinsky said to just pick one egregious one to target (yes, AC, I have read Alinsky, and I would guess that you have not. Very practical guy). So….which American company holds a fair amount of Russian wealth, is heavily tied in to military spending – and has a product which Americans would normally buy?

    Or… an empowering Ukrainian NGO that uses money effectively?

    Then one would need a vigorous social media campaign to spread the word, but we're all pretty good at that.

  5. DavidThi808 says:

    An interesting question – can Dubai get enough gas to Europe to cover what they presently import from Russia? If so, shutting down purchases for even 1 month would have an incredible impact on Russia.

    • Duke Cox says:

      The second LNG export facility, at Quintana Island, Texas is under construction. The third, in Lake Charles, Lousiana is being approved now. The first is already operating at Sabine Pass, Louisiana. Together the three will be able to export 5.6 billion cubic ft. per day, which, as nearly as I can calculate, is about what Russia supplies to Europe daily. The problem is…only one is now operational.

  6. BlueCat says:

    While it 's too late to help in this particular crisis at this particular time, If we had started seriously developing new energy technologies decades ago, that would have freed us all, wherever we live, from dependence on fossil fuels and the regimes holding and controlling access to them. No country would be able to use access to their fossil fuel resources as a weapon to hold over anyone's head. 

    Seems like the expense of such development would have been worth it. Imagine not having to spill blood for finite energy resources. Especially since finite resources are, you know, finite, and alternatives will one day have to be found no matter what. We should probably save as much blood as possible for the coming water wars anyway. Those are going to be doozies.

  7. Andrew Carnegie says:

    I don't want to stray off topic, or hijack David's thread, but the political implication of the administraions naive foreign policy will take a toll.  Dem Senator Coons, who is in a safe seat suggested: 

    Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) told an audience of thousands of pro-Israel activists on Sunday morning that Russian President Vladimir Putin had been encouraged to invade the Crimea region of Ukraine partly because of the Obama administration's weakness in responding to Syria's crossing of the "red line" on chemical weapons.


    Here is how it is playing out in Gallop's Presidential three-day tracking poll, faborable 40%, unfavorable 56% which is an all-time high for Obama.

    I don't think our foreign policy should be driven by politics, but our foreign policy successes, or in this case failures, do show up in polling.

    • Sunmusing says:

      Does this mean you won't vote for Putin in the Gop primary??? Breitfart.com is not a good source to link to…they are wrong about everything and are nothing more that a forum for folks who lack critical thinking skills…I have read your winger rants and that is good…free speech and all, but you are on the wrong side of history, and support the group who is doing everything in their power to destroy OUR nation…and either you are ingorant or are a paid shill for the wingers/baggers…Folks like you are tearing this country apart…for what? For money? Power? JESUS? I'm am sorry if I have offended you in any way, but you are what is wrong with this country, my friend…

      • Andrew Carnegie says:

        Sam, I disagree with you.  

        That does not make me ignorant or paid by others, it means I disagree with you.

        Leave open the possibility that you might not be right about everything and you may grow as a person.  If you don't, you won't.

        Just my opinion.

        You have not offended me, and I hope I have not offended you.

  8. Andrew Carnegie says:

    Neville Chamberlain reincarnated?


    "STEPHANOPOULOS: All those violations, sir. So what's the penalty for what Russia has already done?

    KERRY: Well, we are busy right now coordinating with our counterparts in many parts of the world. Yesterday, the president of the United States had an hour and a half conversation with President Putin. He pointed out importantly that we don’t want this to be a larger confrontation. We are not looking for a U.S.-Russia, East-West redux here. What we want is for Russia to work with us, with Ukraine. If they have legitimate concerns, George, about Russian speaking people in Ukraine, there are plenty of ways to deal with that without invading the country. They have the ability to work with the government, they could work with us, they could work with the UN. They could call for observers to be put in the country. There are all kinds of alternatives. But Russia has chosen this aggressive act, which really puts in question Russia’s role in the world and Russia’s willingness to be a modern nation and part of the G8.

    I think there are, you know, they are inviting the possibility of very serious repercussions on trade, on investment, on assets, asset freeze, visa bans, on the potential of actions by the global community against this unilateral step."


  9. ElliotFladen says:

    A big issue is we have a treaty with Ukraine which might require us to go to war.  Disavowing the treaty would lead to greater global instability and increases in nuclear proliferation.  Following the treaty would entangle us in a war with Russia. 

    Another option might be to say that Ukraine can't invoke the treaty as their government needs to be elected first. 

  10. mamajama55 says:

    The rest of the Kerry interview with Stephanopoulos on "This Week, which AC just happened to cherry-pick the most ambivalent part from.

    Kerry explores diplomatic options, sanctions, etc. 

  11. mamajama55 says:

    Forbes.com says Russia is already having serious economic consequences from the invasion. 

    BTW I like DavidT8's suggestion in the original post, to put muscle into money-laundering investigations. This could have ramifications for US companies, too. Sounds like something Senator Warren would be our best hope for. 

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