Nausea: Administration takes credit for Ukraine peace deal
The Obama administration took credit for brokering a peace deal in the Ukraine, despite the fact that there was no discernible role for the US in the talks.
Indeed, the agreement was signed in the presence of the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Poland, with no American within miles of the signing.
But National Security Council spokesman Tony Blinken told CNN it was the dreaded "visa restrictions" that led directly to the folding of the Ukrainian government.
Bridget Johnson at PJ Media:
Blinken claimed the vague public message the administration has been sending about its stance on Ukraine was nothing like what they were accomplishing behind the scenes.
"We have been very clear, and I think that had an important impact in getting people to move," he said. "First of all, we have already issued some visa restrictions on those who were responsible for the violence and repression. And under the law, we can't reveal the names of the people that are on that list, but they are aware of it, and that had an impact."
"We also told them that other steps could be forthcoming. And I think that had a real impact on their thinking, not just folks in the government, but some of the strong oligarchs who support the government and who also didn't like the idea of possibly not being able to travel here to Europe to do business in both places. So I think the possibility of those consequences was a real motivating factor."
Beware the frightening "other steps" that could be "forthcoming" unless the government gave in. No doubt those "oligarchs" were shaking in their boots and screaming at the government to save them from the "other steps" that the US could take.
When it was noted that President Obama drawing a red line of sorts could have less impact because of the Syria red line, Blinken replied, "I have got to admit, I really don't understand the criticism."
"When it comes to Syria, we made it very clear we were prepared to act to deal with the chemical weapons. And what resulted was an agreement with Russia and with us that Syria adhered to, to give up its chemical weapons.... So that, to me, is a tremendous success, and it was done without having to fire a shot," he added. More than 95 percent of Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons have not been removed from the country.
Their own secretary of state says the policy is not a "tremendous success." It is failing. At the same time Blinken was lying about how much of their chemical weapons stockpile had been shipped out of the country, Syria submitted another 100 day plan to remove the weapons and destroy the facilities.
Blinken is either the most spectacularly uninformed NSC spokesman in history, or a bald faced liar. That makes his further statements about the role played by the US in brokering the Ukraine deal seem surreal:
"He told us, his senior leadership team, to do everything we could to figure out a way to defuse the crisis and figure out a way forward for Ukraine. And that's what we've done under his instructions. We've reported to him every day over the last couple of weeks on the situation in Ukraine and gotten direction from him," Blinken said. "He spoke at length to Angela Merkel yesterday. He'll be speaking to President Putin in the hours ahead. And we've had Vice President Biden deeply engaged with President Yanukovych. And we've also had senior leaders throughout the administration working with the opposition, working with the Europeans. This has been a very tightly and closely coordinated effort directed by the president."
And Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel finally got his Ukrainian counterpart on the phone today.
Recall that no one at the Ukrainian defense ministry bothered to pick up the phone over the previous week to talk to the US defense secretary. But throughout Blinken's rambling statements about the administration's efforts, there is this desperate quality that exaggerates tiny moves by Washington and makes them decisive in the final outcome:
"More broadly, I think we've been able to have an impact at key moments throughout this. As I said, nine calls at key moments by the vice president to Yanukovych, but also, very strong intersections at key moments by Secretary Kerry, including, you'll remember, the night that Yanukovych moved his forces the first time against the Maidan, which was the night of Dec.10, and Secretary Kerry was the first to come out and call it a disgusting move," the official said.
"It sort of shocked the system in the Ukraine, brought people into the Maidan and helped people, you know, end - avoid further bloodshed that night. Then, you remember when the black laws were passed, which closed on Jan. 16, which closed space for political opposition. Kerry again came out the next day and made clear that these were absolutely unacceptable and had to be repealed. One of the first public statements that this had to end, even before the street turned to violent. And then again his work with the opposition throughout this period in Munich since then, and again, today."
John Kerry hopped on the phone today for a call with opposition leaders. Klitschko was invited to the call, but stayed out in the Maidan with protesters instead.
These guys are so desperate for a foreign policy "success" that they will spin what was obviously a minor role by Washington in the peace process into what the US used to do routinely; be the major player in brokering deals. That Washington was not a major player in this deal says a lot about the Obama administration's stewardship of our foreign policy.