Streetwise Professor

July 22, 2014

Obama Laying Groundwork Through Leaks of Charging Putin With the Geopolitical Equivalent of 3d Degree Manslaughter

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 6:49 pm

There were disturbing, but not surprising, signs today that the Obama administration is backing away from holding Putin & Russia to account in any serious way for the MH17 Massacre.

First, Obama had a call with Dutch PM Rutte while on AF1 on his way to (wait for it!) a West Coast fundraising junket. (You are shocked, I’m sure.) He said that he was “concerned” about continued Russian infiltration of weapons into Ukraine. Not gravely concerned. Not deeply concerned. That is soooo last week. Just, “Concerned”. Prediction: Next week it will be “meh.”

Second, the AP ran this very disturbing article, which describes a briefing by anonymous “Senior U.S. intelligence officials.” They bend over backwards to minimize Russia’s-and Putin’s-culpability:

But the officials said they did not know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the missile launch. They were not certain that the missile crew was trained in Russia, although they described a stepped-up campaign in recent weeks by Russia to arm and train the rebels, which they say has continued even after the downing of the commercial jetliner.

In terms of who fired the missile, “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” one official said, adding at another point, “There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here.”

White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the U.S. was still working to determine whether the missile launch had a “direct link” to Russia, including whether there were Russians on the ground during the attack and the degree to which Russians may have trained the separatists to launch such a strike.

“We do think President Putin and the Russian government bears responsibility for the support they provided to these separatists, the arms they provided to these separatists, the training they provided as well and the general unstable environment in eastern Ukraine,” Rhodes said in an interview with CNN.

Note the emphasis on stating what we (allegedly) don’t know, not on what we do. Note the use of the word “direct” in discussing the linkage to Russia. Classical defense attorney tactics in creating reasonable doubt about the truth of a top charge, like capital murder.

High level intelligence officials brief the press anonymously for two reasons: (1) to kneecap the administration in opposition to policies they dislike, or (2) to prepare the ground for future administration announcements or actions. The fact that the statements of the anonymous officials dovetail with what Rhodes says, (1) is highly unlikely. The fact that multiple officials are saying this further undermines possibility (1). So (2) it is.

Briefings like this do not occur by accident. They are planned. They have a purpose. And here the purpose is to shape expectations, and to lay the groundwork for Obama (and the Euros) to  move on from the horrid, ugly scenes in Donetsk and back away from any confrontation with Putin.

I therefore predict that within a very short interval, we shall see Obama sally forth, and deliver an indictment of Putin for the geopolitical equivalent of Third Degree Manslaughter: “causing the death of another person either through criminal negligence or through the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony.”

Obama-with the Euros nodding furiously in agreement-will accuse Putin of negligently creating the conditions that led to the deaths of 298 innocent people, but no more. Since this is a mere misdemeanor, no harsh penalty will be demanded. Putin will be sentenced to a period of isolation from the international community, not to exceed six months. Which Vlad will probably consider this a vacation, given how much he loathes pretty much every European “leader,” not to mention Obama.

Note: this is not even a plea bargain. Putin will have to make no allocution. It is a preemptive surrender by the prosecutor.

I predict this result primarily because I believe Obama and the Euros have zero appetite to confront Putin. They can live with the low-level warfare in eastern Ukraine. (Not so low-level for the Ukrainians, of course, who have a much harder time living with it: indeed, they often die with it. But they should look out for themselves, because Obama, Merkel, Hollande, et al are casting them in the role of Czechoslovakia in a gala production of Munich!) Conversely, they blanch at the prospect of going eyeball to eyeball with Putin, even with economic weapons alone.

Of course the Panic! in the Kremlin Disco gang interpret the AP interview as “an unforced error.” A mistake that mis-states administration policy. They are invested in the belief that a steely Obama will force Putin to capitulate in panic.

Deluded fools. Denial ain’t a river in Egypt. I understand Obama and the Euros. More importantly, Putin understands Obama and the Euros. They will run to form. Meaning that they will run.

I do not write this with joy, to the contrary.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Comment »


    Jul 22, 2014 3:34 AM PT

    Russia canceled its first ruble bond auction in three months after borrowing costs surged to the highest level in more than two months yesterday as the U.S. and EU weighed sanctions.

    The Finance Ministry said it pulled tomorrow’s sale, citing “unfavorable market conditions” in a statement on its website today. The yield on Russia’s ruble debt due February 2027 fell nine basis points to 9.14 percent as of 2:31 p.m. in Moscow after jumping 19 basis points yesterday.


    Russia, which has been building up troops massively on the border with Ukraine, has simulated attacks against Ukraine and continues too fire weapons from Russia into Ukrainian territory – source is the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council:

    Росіяни імітували атаку на кордоні з Україною і 4 рази обстріляли – РНБО

    Збройні сили Росії продовжують обстрілювати українських військових з території РФ, а також імітували атаку на кордоні України.

    Про це інформує в середу Інформаційний центр РНБО.

    Навпроти ділянки прикордонної служби “Гірськ” та “Грем`яч” у Чернігівській області у вівторок відбулася чергова провокація з боку російських військових.

    Декілька одиниць важкої техніки демонстративно наблизилися до державного кордону України, розгорнулися в бойові порядки, імітували атаку, а потім повернулися та рухалися вздовж лінії державного кордону.

    У вівторок також о 22:10 установками залпового вогню “Град” обстріляли Амвросіївку на Донеччині, о 22:40 – Герасимівку Луганської області, о 02:15 – прикордонний пункт пропуску “Успенка”, о 03:00 – обстріляли блокпост неподалік Червонопартизанська.

    Збройні сили Росії продовжують нарощувати військову присутність неподалік державного кордону України.

    Встановлено, що в районі населеного пункту Кругленьке – урочище Кручений Ліс Курської області облаштовано польовий табір Збройних сил Російської Федерації, де перебувають підрозділи 32-ї окремої мотострілецької бригади та 24-ї окремої бригади спецпризначення ГРУ з Новосибірської області, а також 56-го інженерно-саперного полку з Республіки Татарстан.

    Comment by elmer — July 23, 2014 @ 8:54 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress