Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not the world power the Soviet Union was, but as a strategic and military foe it would be formidable.
If Russia’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and its military involvement in Syria mark a major shift in how the Kremlin intends to present itself on the world stage, the question for U.S. leaders is what to do about it.
An event like Turkey’s downing of a Russian bomber could trigger deadly confrontation.
Where are the U.S. and its NATO allies headed in their relationship with Russia? Does the situation call for a show of force or strong diplomacy?
So what is this strong diplomacy you speak of? The president and his State Department have proven they’re unwilling to provide a show of force in any meaningful way.
That makes our diplomacy toothless in the face of maniacs like Putin, who are avowed to destroy us. They are immune to words. Only action, or a believable threat of it, is all they understand.
President Obama’s legacy as a foreign policy failure is secured by his refusal to back up his own red lines.
His participation in the global warming hoax summit was a complete embarrassment when there are immediate and real threats of terrorism to all democratic nations around the world.
Ralph M. Gill, New Braunfels
Diplomacy or force? That’s the question. The problem is that Putin and Obama, both weak leaders of major countries, are involved in an uncivil, unholy war in Syria. These wars and rumors of wars have being going on for centuries.
The U.S. was involved in one in the 1860s. Both the North and South asked for foreign forces to join their sides. Wisely, they choose not to get involved in a foreign country’s domestic quarrel. Not so now in Syria.
Putin’s Russia is bombing one faction; the U.S., France and others are bombing the other side. What a mess! Neither knows who’s being killed on the ground. Russia and the U.S. and other nations are being attacked from within by foreign and domestic terrorists.
Maybe, rather than spending billions on bombing, accept able-bodied men and women, arm and support them to take back their homeland.
Jack O. Lewis, Haltom City
Vladimir Putin was 36 when he was photographed, camera around his neck, pretending to be a “tourist” when President Reagan’s entourage visited Red Square during the 1988 summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
One could argue that Putin has been the de facto leader of Russia for the past 16 years. As such, he has consolidated his power to the point where he can basically send Russia in any direction he wishes. He has predictably not strayed from his KGB roots and has embarked on a course of military adventure.
I thought the oligarchs — the hyper rich of Russian commerce, who have seen him fritter away the international good will built up since the Cold War — could and would pull him over. But that was not to be.
Griffin T. Murphey, Fort Worth
This ex-KGB spy has been at the center of Russian life for more than a decade and will continue to be for another decade.
Russians are a well-educated, crafty and resilient people, and under Putin’s watch the per capita GDP growth has skyrocketed, and the majority of the population enthusiastically continues to support him. He can be forceful, and he reacts in a timely manner to world conditions when necessary.
Considering how things were before he came to power, and considering also who else could be ruling Russia by now, we should be content (and maybe even a little envious) and steer clear of trying to change or manipulate this Russian bear.
Patrick Jenkins, Arlington
Josef Stalin famously said that he leads with the bayonet and, sensing little resistance, he moves forward. When he faced resistance, he stopped. Putin has followed that maxim because his chief rival has a weak leader whose resistance consists of talk, no action.
If the U.S. would have sent serious weapons for the Ukrainians to counter Russian moves, if the U.S. would have made the “red line” stand up, if the U.S. would impose serious sanctions on the Russian economy, driving it to the brink, then Putin would stop, perhaps reverse course.
As long as the U.S. president talks and doesn’t take meaningful action, Putin will continue to lead with the bayonet.
Rick Weintraub, Arlington
Yes, the situation calls for a show of force and strong diplomacy, but it’s very late, making it difficult!
Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Obama and his administration mostly have been speaking softly, no big stick!
Putin and other country leaders have not been speaking softly, and they carry a big stick, and even wave the stick.
This lack by Obama and his administration has not only made it difficult for the U.S. to have a strong diplomacy but also a strong leadership!
George J. Anthony, Fort Worth
New leadership, yes, but no change in the communist doctrine! Look at China, North Korea, Cuba and a host of countries living with total acceptance of communism. Not the people, of course, but the dictators in each respective country!
I learned a valuable lesson in the years 1957-1959, serving in the U.S. Army on the German-Czechoslovakia border.
All the weapons had been taken away from the people, making them vulnerable to the invading Russians in the eastern sector during the Cold War.
This line that had been “drawn” in the sand, so to speak, separating East from West, allowed the Russians to totally dominate the entire eastern sector for 44 years, with the Berlin Wall falling in 1989.
Putin has already taken back eastern Ukraine, while we watched! As the former Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev, used to say, we can never defeat the U.S. by going door to door, because they are all armed! We must divide them in Washington first.
So let the watchwords be thus: Lose your weapon; lose your freedom! Putin can do a lot in 14 months.
Don Pittman, Arlington
Putin is trying to restore Russia’s position as a world power like the old Soviet Union. He can do this with no strong world leaders to oppose him.
The Middle East is in total disarray and France, Germany and Britain can only do so much.
In the past, the U.S. had strong leaders to oppose Russia, but Putin considers Obama to be extremely weak. Obama will use rhetoric to try to make people think that he is strong and will draw “red lines” that are not to be crossed.
When these red lines are crossed, almost immediately, Obama ignores the violation or says that he didn’t draw a line.
The usually ineffective U.N. has to draw on a unified resolve and use strong diplomacy to try to rein in Russia. A strong show of force is ill-advised because even today’s weaker Russia has considerable military firepower.
Walter H. Delashmit, Justin
You ask what U.S. leaders will do about Russia’s actions in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria, and now a possible confrontation due to Turkey’s downing of a Russian bomber.
Nothing — as the current president’s record would indicate.
Putin is looking out for his country. Obama is concerned about global warming instead of our security and sovereignty.
Eva Snapka, Arlington