Crimean Crisis Began With Bush.

When Mikhail Gorbachev called an end to the Cold War, President George H. W. Bush agreed that there would be no expansion of NATO. Bush also agreed that, following the reunification of Germany, NATO troops and weapons would not be permitted on former East German soil. This was not only necessary to ensure the security of the Russian Federation. In part, it was to prevent a reunified Germany from ever posing a danger to Russia again. After all, the Soviet Union lost more than 20 million of its citizens during World War II.

The agreement was short-lived.

Almost immediately, NATO expanded into the former East Germany. Then, during the Clinton administration, NATO expanded into the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Then George W. Bush pushed NATO to expand into Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia. In addition, Cyprus, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro have considered membership. And, before the end of his second term, Bush made it clear that he wanted Georgia and the Ukraine to join NATO, as well.

This expansion of Russia’s former enemy into nations that were once part of its Warsaw Pact has led Putin and the Russian government to distrust the ultimate goals of NATO, Europe and the US. Add the Bush/Cheney doctrine of pre-emptive war along with Bush’s assertion that the US has the right to use nuclear weapons, and Russians have reason to question our intentions. At the same time, the US has continued to develop and deploy our National Missile Defense (NMD) throughout Europe. Even though it is called a “defense” system, Russians see it differently. They view it as making a first strike survivable.

The NMD is unlikely to be capable of intercepting a massive first strike by Russia. On the other hand, it could more reasonably be seen as capable of intercepting a much smaller retaliatory strike by Russia following a first strike by the US. In other words, it very much upsets the balance of power. Combined with the US thirst for oil which has led us to interfere with governments around the globe, and you can easily see why Putin would be unwilling to see its long-time partner nation, the Ukraine, move away from Russia and join the European Union. Even worse, Russia would lose its naval base at Sebastopol, Crimea, which is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

If you still think this crisis is the result of the Obama administration’s “weak” foreign policy, consider this: What if “independence” groups in Canada or Mexico suddenly took control of the government and formed an alliance with Russia? And what if they signed a treaty of mutual protection? What then? Would you support your neighbors? Or would you demand that the US do something to stop it?

I thought so.

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Revisited.

During President Clinton’s two terms as president, a right wing witch hunt led by Ken Starr and financed by libertarian billionaires spent years trying to uncover dirt on the president and his wife. They claimed that Clinton’s investment in a development named Whitewater was fraudulent. They claimed that Hillary hid legal records from her time as an attorney at the Rose Law Firm. They claimed that Hillary was at the heart of a “Travelgate” conspiracy that resulted in the death of Vince Foster. Some even accused her of murder.

So after eight years and $70 million, what dastardly deed did special prosecutor Ken Starr uncover? An Oval Office blowjob by White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Oh my! Although not the scandal Starr and his minions wanted, it was enough to embarrass the president and initiate impeachment proceedings after he claimed it didn’t happen.

Unfortunately for Starr and right wingers, it was not enough to have the president removed from office.

Fast forward 15 years and you see the same strategy; the same witch hunt; the same torches and pitchforks…just a different Democratic president.

Since Teapublicans took control of the House in 2011, we have seen Solyndra-gate, Fast & Furious-gate, and Benghazi-gate. Now there is IRS-gate and AP-gate. These are merely second-rate attempts to fire up the right wing echo chamber and energize the conservative base. None of them rises to the status of a real scandal.

But the right wing will keep digging.

After all, that appears to be the only thing they’re really good at…using a combination of money and lies to smear the reputations of their political opponents and to distract the media and voters from the real issues at hand. While voters have been focused on the scandals, few have noticed that Teapublicans have not put forward a single jobs bill; or that they have made no attempt to resolve the nation’s budget impasse; or that they have watered down consumer protections against another financial crash; or that they have secretly passed a bill to protect Monsanto from lawsuits; or that they have cut funding for necessary regulation designed to catch tax cheats, catch Medicare fraud, and keep our food safe; or that they are gearing up for another disastrous fight over the debt ceiling.

It seems that the right wing political strategy is nothing more than a high stakes version of three card Monte.