Streetwise Professor

September 5, 2014

Obama The Chess Playing Pigeon Struts Around the Board & Claims Victory Over Putin

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:28 pm

Obama’s cultists often compare him to a chess master, playing the long game. There is another chess metaphor that is far more apt, however. Specifically, there is a story that has gained wide currency in which Vladimir Putin compares Obama to a chess playing pigeon. Putin supposedly said: “Negotiating with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, shits on the board and then struts around like it won the game.”

This story is almost certainly false. The chess playing pigeon meme dates to far before Obama’s time. But there is no person that the story fits better. The story has resonated precisely because it is so right. If Putin didn’t say it, he should have, and he would have been dead on.

For proof, one need go no further than Obama’s claim that he, and he alone, is responsible for the cease fire agreement (such as it is) in Ukraine:

“I want to point out, the only reason that we’re seeing the ceasefire at this moment is because of both the sanctions that have already been applied and the threat of further sanctions,” Obama saidfrom Wales where a NATO summit is taking place. [Emphasis added.]

The Reason article linked above points out several of the problems with Obama’s statement, but it misses the biggest one. The colossal one.

Obama effectively asserts that the ceasefire is a setback for Putin that he was forced to accept due to the pain of sanctions and the prospect of worse sanctions to come.

This is a total inversion of  reality. The reality is that this is a major victory for Putin. For crissakes, Putin and Lavrov have been demanding a ceasefire for weeks. Months even. Demanding. It’s what they’ve wanted all along, and has led their list of demands. It saves the Russian rebel puppets from defeat, and allows them to cement their position in Donbas. It forces Poroshenko to acknowledge the Russian puppet states as legitimate interlocutors. It creates a frozen conflict that makes Ukraine toxic for Europe and Nato. It creates a bleeding ulcer inside Ukraine that will sap the poor country of its vitality, and keep it on the precipice of becoming a failed state.

From Putin’s perspective, what’s not to like? To love, even, given his obsessive hatred for an independent Ukraine.

The timing is also telling. When did the ceasefire happen? In the immediate aftermath of a dramatic Russian escalation that inflicted a bloody, devastating defeat on Ukraine and turned the tide of battle. This forced Poroshenko to negotiate from a position of weakness, and allowed Putin to negotiate from a position of strength. This is exactly contrary to the impression that Obama attempts to convey, which is that Putin was forced into concessions.

There are two, and only two, possibilities here. It is hard to decide which one is more frightening.

The first one is that Obama is so clueless that he does not know that Putin has been demanding a ceasefire, and that a ceasefire achieves his main strategic objectives. So clueless that he does not know that this is exactly what Putin wants. Hell, he’s not even B’rer Rabbit, who had to use reverse psychology to get thrown into the b’rer patch where he was born and bred. Putin said that’s exactly where he wanted to go, and Obama doesn’t even understand.

The second is that Obama knows, but is so intent on shunting the Ukrainian crisis to the bottom of the pile that he shamelessly goes all Orwell, and declares down to be up, war to be peace, and defeat to be victory. That Obama wants to put the “Problem Managed” stamp on Ukraine, and walk away, perhaps to sneak a peek at his Nobel Peace Prize, and say “I’ve  earned it!-or at least I can pretend I did!”

Clueless or mendacious. Pick one. There is no third choice.

Ukraine: you’re on your own. Which, methinks, is precisely why you entered into such a humiliating deal.

But don’t think Putin will rest on his laurels. To the contrary, he smells weakness. How else to explain that a mere two days after Obama stood in Tallinn, Estonia and delivered in stentorian tones a solemn promise to defend Estonia and other allies to the last, that the FSB launched an operation inside Estonia, and kidnapped a member of the country’s counterintelligence service?

This isn’t over, people. Not by a long shot. The fecklessness on display daily, including notably at today’s Nato summit in Wales, acts on Putin like an aphrodisiac. The escalations have just begun, and either President Pigeon doesn’t understand, or understands but doesn’t care enough to do anything about it.


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  1. Yep, total defeat for Ukraine. This is going to start a covert race for nukes worldwide.

    EU is impotent. Wonder if they can muster some energy to create some common energy policy, or will Angela manage to subvert that too?

    I wonder if Ukraine could just expel the rebel held territories from the country. There is no point to continue subsidizing all the expensive coal mining, those who desire should relocate to Ukraine proper, the remaining people can go to hell (aka Russia).

    Nationalistic parties will probably gain a huge victory in the upcoming elections. Nobody will buy this fake truce, and the formerly “stupid” (aka “pro”-russian) will probably have low turn out.

    For Putin, this is most likely the beginning of the end. Unlikely that he’d be able to get away with doing so much sh!t, karma is a b!tch. That is if dear EU capitalists can tolerate the tiny reduction in GDP due to sanctions. But former USSR republics will be running away with vengeance.

    Comment by cast off — September 5, 2014 @ 9:06 pm

  2. Sadly, Ukraine is all alone since day 1. Happily – Ukraine will win the war, as it is not even over. It is time for regrouping and some little break for the Ukrainian army before pushing back all the vatniks and taking Liliputin’s scalp. All my bets are on Ukraine. Russia has no future as it is. The West will take some action only after it purges the doves pretending to be hawks like Obama, Hollande, Frau Ribbentrop, Rutte. West needs more Harpers and Abbotts in order to win the war against autocracy.

    Comment by Europeo — September 6, 2014 @ 5:00 am

  3. In the Budapest Memorandum, Russia, the EU and the US have all pledged to protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It has been violated twice in recent months and all the EU and US could muster is anemic sanctions that they are about to roll back thanks to the ceasefire. I bet countries like Romania, Bulgaria and others who are already beholden to Gazprom are looking at this carefully and learning their lesson. It looks like the moment Putin attacks the Baltic states will be the moment when the EU and NATO will break up. It’s going to be that easy for him.

    Comment by aaa — September 6, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

  4. Or mayme the moment Putin attacks the Baltics will be the moment NATO and EU awakes and responds to Putin’s war agains Europe 🙂

    P.S. Romania is not as dependent from Gazp as Bulgaria and the Baltics are. In the meantime Bulgaria might be dependent mostly from Gazp, but still its natural gas usage is insignificant comparing to other EU countries (even the smaller ones) which is some plus if/when Russian gas turns off.

    Comment by Europeo — September 6, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

  5. That pigeon analogy used to describe Obama earlier. Now that Putin has resumed his attack on Mariupol, Obama is more like a pigeon who managed to crap on his own head and awfully proud of the fit.

    Comment by Ivan — September 7, 2014 @ 12:16 am

  6. I mean, feat.

    Comment by Ivan — September 7, 2014 @ 12:37 am

  7. An excellent piece from Timothy Snyder:

    Amazing how few and far between are the people in the West who dare articulate what’s really at stake. At this rate, the sequel “Bloodlands II: Europe between Merkel and Putin” will soon be a reality.

    Comment by Ivan — September 7, 2014 @ 10:26 am

  8. @Ivan. Fit fits too 😉 It reminds me of an old joke, the punch line of which is: “If the foo shits, wear it.”

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 7, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

  9. Sometimes small indiscretions point to much more profound character problems, and Barack Obama’s evasive response as to whether he regretted playing golf just minutes after making a statement on the murder of journalist James Foley is just such an example.

    Asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd whether he would take that decision back, Mr Obama could not bring himself to admit his mistake, let alone apologise. Instead he merely weaseled.

    “There’s no doubt that — after having talked to the families, where it was hard for me to hold back tears listening to the pain that they were going through — after the statement that I made, that you know, I should’ve anticipated the optics,” he said.

    – Daily Telegraph,

    What a twit. Really.

    Comment by Green as Grass — September 8, 2014 @ 2:30 am

  10. @Green. Exactly. Here’s my translation: “I realize that looked bad. I’m sorry I got caught. That won’t happen again.”

    But it was worse, even. He blamed it on his inability to do the “theater” of the presidency.

    Maybe that’s true. Real actors don’t need a Telemprompter.

    Speaking of which, as usual he rambled and was at times incoherent when speaking extemporaneously during an interview. I can only imagine what a stuttering fool he would become if he were subjected to truly tough questioning.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 8, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

  11. What ever happened to the Russian convoy of white trucks with humanitarian aid? The media seems to have forgotten about this conspicuous obfuscation.

    Comment by scott — September 9, 2014 @ 2:18 am

  12. It appears the “humanitarian convoy”‘s main purpose was to loot some industrial facilities in Donbas and move the spoils to Russia.

    Comment by Ivan — September 9, 2014 @ 2:33 am

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