I watched President Obama’s State of the Union address on YouTube and was surprised to hear that Ukraine, in his words, is Russia’s client state. The word “client” is not in the published text but that’s what Mr. Obama actually said (the words added by the President are in bold italics, though they are not found in the printed text of the address):

As someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time. But that’s not (primarily) because of diminished American strength or some looming superpower (out there). In today’s world, we’re threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states. The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia. Economic headwinds blow from a Chinese economy in (significant) transition. Even as their economy (severely) contracts, Russia is pouring resources (in) to prop up Ukraine and Syria – (client) states they see (“saw” was the word used) slipping away from their orbit. And the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality.

The statement that Russia is pouring resources “to prop up Ukraine” also put me at my wits’ end. Until that moment I had thought that Russia was doing just the opposite — destabilizing Ukraine. Mr. Obama also lumped the pro-Western Ukraine together with the pro-Russian Syria… And when he introduced this part of his speech exploiting the dichotomy of evil empires and failing states, how did he categorize China and Russia – as empires or as failing states? Or did he mean that Ukraine is a failing state? I don’t feel that my country is such.

I understand that even a Harvard graduate cannot be jack of all trades. But, at least, he is supposed to have a team of experts who are geopolitically literate and who can give proper shaping to proper statements.


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  1. ramund Says:

    I understand that “some looming superpower out there” to refer to Russia. And Russia could potentially one day be either, though a failing state is most likely. China is neither. Maybe he use the word “prop-up” wrong because he couldn’t possibly be thinking Russia is supporting Syria either. But there’s no denying it is pouring resources.

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