In a political gambit that at best is likely to result in some face-saving statements of support for the president, Obama Heads to Hague Hoping to Strengthen Europe's Resolve.
US President Barack Obama arrives in Europe after Russia's annexation of Crimea grappling with conflicting advice, anxious allies and unsure about Russian President Vladimir Putin's next move in Ukraine.
After the rebalancing of US diplomacy towards Asia, Mr Obama is also facing the challenge of sustained re-engagement with the continent's leaders, who often felt neglected in his first term and, more recently, bruised by allegations of US espionage.
Mr Obama will spend three days in The Hague and Brussels, at a summit of G7 leaders in the Dutch city, followed by a visit to Nato headquarters and a meeting with the EU. The overriding focus will be how to fashion and hold together a tough line against a Russian leader whose lightning incursion into Ukraine has startled the west.
So far, the US has responded with a series of sanctions against some of Mr Putin's closest associates ahead of the meeting at The Hague, taking place alongside an already scheduled nuclear security summit.
But Mr Obama's pushback against Moscow has been too little and too late, according to former administration advisers, and has failed to match the tough rhetoric from the White House about the Crimean takeover.
Too Little Too Late?
It is interesting to see warmongering Financial Times see this as "too little, too late", while the Fiscal Times proclaims, Obama Crippled a Russian Bank with a Stroke of a Pen. (For discussion, please see Criminal Actions by Obama; Two Wrongs Make a Right).
My own view is the Fiscal Times overstated the effects on St. Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya, yet the US has already done too much because no amount of sanctions will force Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine.
The Financial Times continues ...
Economic officials have broadly cautioned against tough sanctions because of the potential blowback against a US economy still struggling to regain solid growth, while Mr Obama's political advisers have pushed for tougher action, because of the diplomatic principles at stake.
Principles or Egos?
Are principles at stake or egos? Perhaps both, but any principles involved in this are misguided at best. For discussion, please see Buffoon Bluffery; What are Sanctions Really About?
The neocons would love to have another war. Indeed, they would be happy to have perpetual war on multiple fronts (which is precisely why we seem to have perpetual war, frequently on multiple fronts).
Everyone Should Hope Obama Fails
All further sanctions can do is provoke military or economic war. There will be no winners in either outcome. Sanctions, war, and economic war are a Negative Sum Game.
Thus, a failure by Obama to secure any additional sanctions is the best possible outcome. The second best result is some face-saving but meaningless statements.
As is typical of misguided politics coupled with bigger than life egos, the bigger the political failure to achieve stated goals, the better off we will all be.
Failure is truly success!