Analysis: Is Barack Obama biting off more than he can chew? – Asks Dr Michael J.K. Bokor


The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor
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The United States has for many years now prided itself as the only SUPERPOWER of the world (especially after the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics collapsed at the impact of Mikhail Gorbachov’s “perestroika’ and “glasnost”, vain attempts to offset the hugely negative impact of the arms race and the devastating consequences of the Cold War).

In its pride, the US has done things all over the world and boasted of its capability to continue doing so till thy kingdom come. It has made no secret of the potency of its military-industrial complex, entering countries and systems and doing anything that its superior arms would allow it to.

It inserted itself into the Iran-Iraq war and eventually turned the scales against its former ally, Saddam Hussein, when it invaded Iraq in 2003 and flushed him out of a rat hole to face the gallows. It shifted to Afghanistan, not learning the bitter lesson that the Soviets had learnt there when they mindlessly extended their influence there as part of the search for pockets of influence in that part of the world.

Now, after many years of supporting the Afghan system, Hamid Karzai is proving to them that there is more to hegemony than military superiority. President Obama’s threat to pull out US forces doesn’t really turn anybody’s crank in Afghanistan. Howe could any President anywhere not know that the Talibans and the so-called Afghan or Pakistani Establishment are just two sides of the same coin?

Reckless militarism has only one consequence—death of soldiers in pursuit of a mirage in territories that had better be avoided!!

As if the US hasn’t learnt any useful lesson from the double-dealing meted out to it by its so-called allies in storm-centres into which it has inserted itself, it is still expending energy, flexing muscles to dare the devil.

This time, it is about Ukraine, a country that identifies itself more with Russia than the United States or the European Union. The truth is that there is more of Russia in Ukraine than any other force in the world. Forget about the Russian fleet in the Black Sea or the millions of Russian citizens in the Crimea and other parts of Ukraine who are now rocking the boat after the tumultuous events leading to the overthrow of Yanukovych. Ukraine cannot disentangle itself from the umbilical cord tying it to Russia.

But in his usual garb as the leader of the so-called superpower, President Obama has warned Russia that “there will be costs” for a military intervention in Ukraine. What costs, one doesn’t know!

Intriguingly, the United States seems not to know that truth and is taking a faulty step that won’t solve the problem. When I heard three days ago that the US had warned Russia not to involve itself in the internal affairs of Ukraine or face the consequences, I laughed my heart out really loud.  

I didn’t miss anything to know that the US’ warning was either misplaced or given out of ignorance or some kind of misplaced self-deceptive authority. Or some kind of self-confidence that will only bring out the real stuff in the Russian Establishment.

True to prediction, Russia’s Vladimir Putin shrugged off Obama’s warning and has now had the full backing of the Russian Establishment to do as he wishes. Russian troops are being sent to Ukraine because Russia feels it has a legitimate right to do in Ukraine as it wishes. After all, wasn’t Ukraine an integral part of the USSR? Where was the US at the time? And what right does it have to dictate to the Godfather?

Those aware of world politics will wonder why the US will be so reckless in giving that warning, considering what is happening in Syria. Indeed, but for the stance of Russia, the Syrian crisis would have been brought to an end by now. But Russia has its own interests to defend and is not compromising even though hundreds of thousands of lives have been shed in the uprising.

So, can’t the US learn any lesson from Russia’s entrenched position on Syria that it won’t yield grounds when it comes to defending its interests? Shouldn’t Obama even have known that as of last year, Vladimir Putin had emerged as the world’s most powerful leader to be deferred to?

Indeed, we are beginning to see new windows open right before us to know how global politics is gradually shifting from one arena to the other. But really, the situation developing in Ukraine points to a kind of local politics that will reflect a lot for us to know who is who in this 21st century.

Interestingly, in all this hubbub, the United Nations is missing in action. It hasn’t said anything so far and one wonders whether it is really still in existence.

I am happy to be alive to all these developments and will continue monitoring it all to see how it unfolds. The reality now is that no warning by the US to Russia will solve the problem. Apparently, the US is no Godfather over Russia, which is why Vladimir Putin is so resolute to prove that when it comes to matters affecting his backyard, he is the one to call the shots!!

If for nothing at all, he is reminded of the shenanigans resulting from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s escapades in Europe (close to his country’s doorsteps) and why the Warsaw Pact collapsed but the integrity of Russia must be defended at all cost.

Will Ukraine be that turning point in our time? At what cost to the world? And why isn’t the US equally concerned about the situation in Syria to warrant stern warnings to Russia or any direct action to prevent the daily massacring going on?

We recall the speed with which Obama ordered the US troops to join forces with Britain, France, and other countries in the Arabic world to eliminate Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi or others elsewhere considered by the powers-that-be as pariahs.

Are the Ukrainians more human than the Syrians (or the Palestinians being daily tyrannized by Israel)?

And Putin told Obama in his 90-minute telephone contact that Russia reserves the right to determine what goes on in Ukraine and will do as it wishes to safeguard its interests. Now, what will Obama do? Withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and send them to Ukraine? A dilemma of sorts for him and his handlers to contemplate while Putin laughs them to scorn for not knowing how to cut their coats according to their sizes!

We can tell from Putin’s frontal response to the Obama warning that he really doesn’t see Obama as anybody to defer to. How will this stance influence international politics? Of course, the US’ threat regarding the upcoming G8 summit slated for Russia isn’t really worth Putin’s bother. He knows more than those issuing the vain warning do, and will act to safeguard his country’s interest in Ukraine, damn the feelings of those he considers as nosy outsiders.

Will Ukraine bring back the Cold War or reinvent Russia as a second SUPERPOWER, especially as the US’ economy weakens and China threatens to dislodge it from the number one position as the world’s strongest economy?

Indeed, a lot lies ahead for us to ponder about international politics in contemporary times.

I shall return…

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