Why Obama Didn't Arm Ukraine

President Barack Obama pats Russian President Vladimir Putin on the back in Beijing, November 11, 2014. ...


President Barack Obama pats Russian President Vladimir Putin on the back in Beijing, November 11, 2014.


Photo:

Metzel Mikhail/Zuma Press

Wars have a way of altering reputations, even in retrospect. Two leaders whose legacies look much worse in light of the war in Ukraine are Angela Merkel and Barack Obama.

The former German chancellor has made her country hostage to Russian energy, misjudged

Vladimir Poutine, and contributed far too little to NATO defenses. His successor disowned his legacy within a week.

As for Mr. Obama, he should be remembered as the president who refused to sell deadly defensive weapons to Ukraine, even after Mr. Putin seized Crimea in 2014. He wouldn’t even sell Javelin anti-tank weapons of the type that are now helping Ukraine. military slows down Russia’s invading army.

It was bad enough, but his logic for doing so reveals his misunderstanding of both Mr. Putin and world affairs. Here is an excerpt from a interview 2016 with Mr. Obama in the Atlantic, who often served as Boswell:

“’Putin acted in Ukraine in response to a client state that was about to elude him. And he improvised in a way to keep his control there, ‘ [Mr. Obama] noted. “He did exactly the same thing in Syria, at a huge cost to the well-being of his own country. And the idea that Russia is somehow in a stronger position now, in Syria or Ukraine, that Unless it was before it invaded Ukraine or before it had to deploy military forces to Syria is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of power in foreign affairs or in the world at large. real power means you can get what you want without having to exert violence.Russia was much more powerful when Ukraine looked like an independent country but was a kleptocracy that it could pull strings.

Mr. Obama went on to say that Ukraine “is going to be vulnerable to Russian military domination no matter what we do.”

It is clear that Mr. Obama has underestimated the Ukrainian people and their leaders, who have shown that they are willing and able to defend themselves if they have the weapons. Nor has Mr. Obama understood, throughout his presidency, that the “nature of power in foreign affairs” always includes military power. Mr Putin clearly thinks so. Mr. Obama has done enormous harm to American power and interests in eight years, and the price is still being paid.

Wonder Land: While Joe Biden’s ‘State of the Union’ speech offered words of support for Ukraine, the president didn’t offer defense spending increases because it would go to the against his progressive agenda. Images: CNP/Zuma/AFP/Getty Images Composed: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the March 8, 2022 print edition.

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