Another line crossed
By Post Editorial Board
February 21, 2014 | 12:43am
Another line crossed
No sooner did President Obama publicly warn that “there will be consequences if people step over the line” in Kiev than a hastily declared truce evaporated Thursday in a wave of bloodshed.
So much for Obama’s threats.
Fact is, the president showed just how credible his warnings are when he allowed Syria to cross his chemical-weapons “red line” with impunity. Other retreats and concessions by Washington — in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia and elsewhere — have only reinforced America’s image as weak and not to be feared.
America is quickly losing its ability to shape world events. And in Ukraine, it’s beyond tragic. Besides the humanitarian toll, the former Soviet state has considerable strategic importance to the West. That’s true not just because of its geographic location, but also because of efforts by Russia’s Vladimir Putin to expand his dominance in the region.
Even Thursday’s move by Washington and the European Union to freeze the Western assets of some Ukrainian officials might now be too little, too late. The three-month standoff in Kiev’s Independence Square is threatening to spiral downward even further.
Ukrainians began their protest when President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a proposed trade deal with the EU in favor of one from Putin, who included a bribe of low-interest loans and cheap natural gas. The deal helped cement ties between Kiev and Moscow.
Putin’s reputation for ruthlessness stands as a model for Yanukovych. Meanwhile, Obama has been reluctant to confront the Russian leader on everything from arming Syria to giving sanctuary to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Let’s face it: Obama has a credibility problem. Timorous “leading from behind” has been the hallmark of his foreign policy. No one fears his “consequences.”
The result: a worsening strategic position for America — and one human-rights crisis after another. Can anyone really blame Yanukovych for sticking with Moscow?