Vladimir Putin is confident. He has acquired a nice little piece of real estate without firing a shot. The official line is that this action is not akin to a home invasion — Russia is setting a dysfunctional house in order. Russians and Ukrainians are brothers. They are fraternal. And, at this point, we are looking at co-joined twins, joined at a chest wall location known as the Crimean Peninsula.
The commodious cellarage, imagined by President Bush, “I looked into his eyes....I was able to get a sense of his soul...” is true. A cellerage is the hollow area beneath a Renaissance stage. Known in Renaissance slang as “hell”, it is entered through a trap door known as “hellmouth”. Hellmouth is talking up a storm. And there are flashes of lightning coming from Russia. This is the best public fight I have seen between two presidents in many years.
The former master of the Ukraine merely went away on a little holiday. The serfs imagined themselves free. The master is back and, as the western engine continues to choke, sputter and backfire down the rutted road of failed foreign policy, there is little doubt: Vladimir is in control. The bold statements being issued by the Russian president remind me of the unforgettable image of the ‘V’ riding his horse. Bare-chested, veins popping up on his hands as he holds the reins, the president sports military style pants, web belt and boots. The photography is all about power projection.
Vladimir Putin’s power continues to emerge from right between his vocal chords. The president has accused the US of treating foreign governments like lab rats. We are mad scientists running experiments without understanding the consequences of what we are doing. Tell us what you really think of us, Vladimir! However, it does beg the obvious question: did a collective ‘we’ have a hand in deposing an anti-NATO president? And has it now backfired on us?
In a phone blast to President Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear: Russia is in the Crimea to stay. The original force configuration of 11,000 sailors permanently based at the Black Sea Fleet in the port of Sevastopol has been rapidly bulked up. Vladimir Putin has rapidly moved troops into Crimea. The current force configuration now stands at 30,000.
On our side, we have a metrosexual potus who throws out the first pitch like a girl. To groom a man for greatness is one thing. For that man to follow through and perform in stellar manner is an entirely different story. Americans embraced the political legend and we elected a president based on nebulous concepts of hope and change. President Obama is an oxymoron on the international stage. Magnificent failure. That sums it up.
The potus already suffers a severe credibility gap from his merry-go-round foreign policy involving the civil war conflict in Syria. So, the bluster and bravado against the Russian incursion will have little effect on Russia’s political aspirations. ‘They’ are not exactly afraid of ‘us’ — that is apparent. President Putin is calmly filing his fingernails when not using his mouth as a furnace. On March 6, Crimea’s parliament voted to join Russia. A couple of days after this column goes to press, the Moscow-backed government will have a referendum. The EU can dawdle along with an emergency summit. The UN can do what the UN does best: cough up a resolution that Russia will spit back with their veto power. This flurry of activity by Vladimir reminds me of a good game of basketball. Things are moving so quickly on the court that it can be hard to keep up but there is no doubt: Vladimir has manually powered the Crimean peninsula right through the hoop in full view of international leaders.
Naturally, anyone with future presidential aspirations must join the mighty chorus of dismay against Russia’s actions. Entering stage left is a seasoned warrior of the Bosnian conflict: a woman who dodged sniper fire on the tarmac of the airport. “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” Yep, decorated war veteran Hillary Rodham Clinton has the need to look ‘presidential’ so she has matched the V’s lab rat comment with one of her own.
Things continue to look grim. Russia’s firm grip on the annexation of Crimea will be hard to challenge. The UN envoy made a quick exit from Crimea after being threatened by armed men and mobbed by a crowd shouting “Russia! Russia!” Indeed, the pull of the heart toward the soil of Mother Russia may be quite strong during this season of unrest. Russia has a sturdy political history and sense of place within the region. And those who come under the shadow of Russian heritage and influence have a common trait: endurance.
Political endurance is the name of the long game for the Russian people. Here in the US, we consider endurance in the category of waiting 10 minutes for our Starbucks coffee. There are Russians today who remember the Leningrad siege. It lasted 900 days and, toward the end of the siege, the citizens took to boiling dirt to make their own coffee. Their endurance through political hardship is a legendary tale of human courage. So, sanctions do not mean a lot to them, as long as they get to keep their Russian dirt.
Cheering from the sidelines for the Russian home team are the Chinese and the Iranians. While accusations are still flying as to who started this fight, we all know who is going to end it. The bare-chested man, a seasoned political player — may well beat out the inexperienced US senator who yodeled his way through hope and change speeches to become the president of the US — twice.
The writer is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org