It is time for America, along with France, Germany and England, to get serious on putting the screws to Vladimir Putin by freezing the assets of the Russian oligarchs. There are a number of points in this Charles Krauthammer post I would take exception to, but I also like Charles’s suggestion of weaning Europeans off Russian natural gas.
As of now, the Germans, French, and British have balked. They have too much economic interest in the Moscow connection.
Which means we can do nothing decisive in the short or even medium term. But we can severely squeeze Russia in the long term.
How? For serious sanctions to become possible, Europe must first be weaned off Russian gas. Obama should order the Energy Department to expedite authorization for roughly 25 liquid-natural-gas export facilities. Demand all decisions within six weeks.
Second, call for urgent bipartisan consultation with congressional leaders for an emergency increase in defense spending, restoring at least $100 billion annually to the defense budget to keep U.S. armed forces at current strength or greater. Obama won’t do it, but he should. Nothing demonstrates American global retreat more than a budget that reduces the U.S. Army to 1940 levels.
Obama is not the first president to conduct a weak foreign policy. Jimmy Carter was similarly inclined — until Russia invaded Afghanistan, at which point the scales fell from Carter’s eyes. He responded boldly: imposing the grain embargo on the Soviets, boycotting the Moscow Olympics, increasing defense spending, and ostentatiously sending a machine-gun-toting Zbigniew Brzezinski to the Khyber Pass, symbolizing the massive military aid we began sending the mujahedeen, whose insurgency so bled the Russians over the next decade that they not only lost Afghanistan but were fatally weakened as a global imperial power.
Invasion woke Carter from his illusions. Will it wake Obama?