Ukraine sanctions with teeth instead of gums are still possible
By Michael R. Shannon
web posted March 24, 2014
For a very brief moment it looked like the White House and I were finally going to be in agreement on the topic of misrule in the United States. Obama's White House Press Office released a statement with harsh criticism of government actions that threaten "peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets."
It appeared the president had seen the light and was finally going to stop his abuse of office and his promiscuous use of executive orders. But then I read further and saw he was talking about Vladimir Putin and his beachfront trespassing in the Crimea. I thought Obama likes trespassers. Could it be that Putin rejected his offer of in–state tuition?
Of course there are differences between the strongman's approach and that of the girly-man. Putin's misrule is designed to advance the interests of Russian nationalism, while Obama appears content to undermine US standing and interests in the world.
With the result that Russian oligarchs will soon have prime sites for expansive vacation homes within the border of a newly expanded Russia. While our leaders launch deadly cutting remarks that include "wrong side of history" and "19th century thinking" mimicking Harvard faculty lounge habitués criticizing the NFL 1st round draft choice that gets the millions and the girl.
I know this criticism is not entirely fair. The Obama administration has decided to impose sanctions on Russia. Out of a current population of 141,924,000, the Obama administration has singled out seven (that's right, seven) for punishment. The original intent of White House strategists was to just single out a certain percentage of cells in each of the seven individual's body for pinpoint sanctions — gas pains, lumbago, toenail fungus, impotence — but the surgeon general informed the White House that either those maladies took to long to manifest or present technology didn't support the goal.
Instead the administration opted for financial sanctions that make it harder for the Moscow 7 to gain access to any funds they have deposited in Western banks. The Washington Post described the strategy as an attempt "to see whether a symbolic first gesture would be sufficient to give Putin pause...." sorta like the famous "red line" in Syria.
Like much of Obama's strategy, whether in health care or the economy, this gambit backfired. The Russian stock market went up after the announcement, instead of going down.
But that doesn't mean the great minds in this administration are going to give up. Much like Robert McNamara carefully calibrating just the right amount of ordinance necessary to bring North Vietnam to its knees, Obama's financial calibrations have room for expansion.
An administration insider has leaked a plan that will escalate the impact of the next round of sanctions to an almost superhuman level of intensity, while expanding the reach of inconvenience for the Russian Revanchists beyond just the financial realm.
None of the Seven are now allowed to make wire transfers withdrawing their funds from Western banks, but after the sanctions are escalated, they will be limited to a maximum ATM withdrawal of $40 per day and the Coinstar machine will be completely off limits.
If any of the sanctioned try to travel to the US it's also No More Mr. Nice Guy. The TSA's expedited ‘Pre' lane will be off limits. The Crimean Criminals will be assigned to the rubber gloves and high–school–field trips line for the foreseeable future and they will always be relegated to the last boarding group regardless of their frequent flyer status.
Assuming the Seven can't take a hint and come to DC in spite of Obama's disdain, anytime they attempt to use the Uber app to arrange transportation it will result in a fast busy signal, forcing them to use DC taxis. Even worse their lodgings will be in hotels built by Sochi Olympics construction firms.
Since unrepentant aggressors like these will no doubt try to bypass this sanction, even if they rent a car both the GPS device and their E–ZPass transponder will be jammed by NSA, meaning that even if they can find a toll road, they will be forced to use the exact change booth.
And finally, to show Obama really means business, if any of these Russian Reprobates have more than 15 items in their cart when shopping, they will be ejected from the express lane.
There's also a role in this for Vice President ‘Uncle Joe' Biden — a nickname freighted with meaning for Russians. Proving irony isn't dead in this administration, Biden will be visiting many of the Western nations were Obama earlier cancelled plans to install anti–missile batteries after Putin objected.
While looking due East, Uncle Joe will advise these buffer states to buy shotguns and if they see any Russian troops playing footsie with their borders, go out on the balcony, point the muzzle skyward and fire a couple of rounds to scare the bear away.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at mandate.mmpr (at) gmail.com. He is also the author of the forthcoming book: "Funny Conservative" Is Not an Oxymoron. (Or any other type of moron).