Does Vladimir Putin Have a Point?

Article excerpt

The late Lyndon Johnson had a favorite expression, "Don't tell someone to go to hell unless you can send him there."

This is a lesson President Barack Obama is learning the hard way.

Since the outbreak of civil war in Syria, the President has been telling Russia's Vladimir Putin to go to hell in one form or another. Each time Putin comes away stronger.

With the winter Olympics behind him, Putin has decided it's time to call Obama's bluff.

The truth is we can't do anything about Russia's Crimean land grab, and frankly, we can't do much if Putin decides to swallow the rest of Ukraine.

Normally, this isn't something I'd bother you about. We have enough trouble around here just paving our sidewalks and fixing our schools without losing sleep over Crimea. Still, this is one international incident we ignore at our own peril.

Vladimir Putin's Crimean power play comes as the caboose in a long train of diplomatic and political blunders on the part of the United States and our European allies. It's been a multi- administration screw up that has its origins in the fall of the Berlin Wall.

After 70-plus years of horrific misrule and subjugation, Eastern Europe sought freedom and protection from the West. During the late 1990's we obliged when President Clinton offered NATO membership to the recently liberated Baltic States, Latvia, Bulgaria and Lithuania.

Critics warned we were poking the Russian Bear unnecessarily and committing the United States to war if Russia ever made a move to reclaim their lost empire. Are you willing to risk thermo-nuclear war over Bulgaria?

Of course not. And Putin knows this.

Putin's move on Crimea could very well be a harbinger of a bigger plan - the reconstruction of the Soviet Empire - the breakup of which Putin mourns as "the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century."

While the West celebrated the Soviet Union's collapse onto the "ash heap of history" Putin was already planning its Phoenix-like return.

It's important to understand how we got here.

Unrepentant Soviets have been seething for nearly two decades at the United States for putting NATO missiles on their front door. …