We took this excellent though horrifying video from Front Page.
We feel the need to comment on only one thing. At the end, Bill Whittle says that Obama is “up against” the mass murderer Putin. But we doubt Obama sees Putin as an opponent. Obama was raised as a Communist. We think he is more likely to see Putin – even now – as an ideological ally than as an enemy.
Putin’s actions prove his contempt for Obama. His words may not do so explicitly, but when they’re interpreted by Andrew Klavan their deeper meaning becomes perfectly plain.
In the midst of so much bad news, of wars and massacres and the decline of the West, we thought something cheerful would be a nice change.
Perfectly irrelevant to any of our concerns, here’s three-year old Lyonya Shilovsky, a Russian drummer, performing with the Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra.
We first saw the little drummer boy at PowerLine, and captured the video from YouTube:
Today is the centennial anniversary of the start of the First World War. On 28 July, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian army fired the first shots, to crush rebellious Serbia. What happened then, and why, is traced in this video.
Blame is laid on the growth of nationalism, and even more on imperialism – the acquisition of colonies by the powers of Europe on other continents, in fierce competition with each other, Britain being far and away the winner. The fact that at least some empires, chiefly the British, brought incalculable benefits to the lands they conquered, colonized and ruled, is touched on briefly; in our view, too briefly.
We think it is an overview worth watching, though there are points where we would place a different emphasis.
We agree with the presenters that the day World War One broke out was the day Europe began its terminal decline.
How goes Obama’s “pivot” – or “tilt” – to the East?
The Washington Post reports that Defense Secretary Hagel is quietly busy seeing to it, with feeling:
Hagel, who has made five trips to the Far East in the past year, has sustained President Obama’s long-touted tilt toward Asia, even as he has been a nearly invisible player in the unending crises elsewhere that have eclipsed it.
By interest, history and temperament, Hagel appears to feel a sense of ownership in Asia.
A sense of ownership. What can that mean? Read on, and we may find out.
Despite the stalling of the Pacific trade agreement that is another cornerstone of Obama’s Asia “rebalance” …
What is being referenced here is Obama’s failure to reach a trade agreement with Japan. Notice that the Obamaspeak for “failing” is “stalling”. Implied is a temporary hitch soon to be overcome.
… Hagel can claim steady progress in the military’s role of building regional alliances and partnerships. But those gains risk being overtaken by China’s rapidly worsening relations with its neighbors and escalating belligerency from North Korea.
Yup, a little advance here a huge set-back there.
In a speech Saturday morning to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional defense conference he first attended as a senator more than a decade ago, Hagel criticized China’s “destabilizing, unilateral actions” in asserting its maritime claims against other countries in the region. [Some of his] aides said he purposely used language sharper than in previous public statements on the subject.
Purposely? Is sharp speaking usually done by him inadvertently? Obamarians feel uncomfortable speaking sharply to a foreign audience – other than Israel, of course.
So how sharply?
“We take no position on competing territorial claims,” Hagel said, repeating U.S. insistence that its interests are rooted in a desire to balance alliances with Asia’s smaller partners and a smooth relationship with China.
That sharply? Hang on – here it comes:
“But we firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion or the threat of force to assert these claims.”
How firmly? As firmly as Obama opposed intimidation, coercion and the actual use of force by Assad and Putin?
The report mentions that intimidation, coercion and the threat of force is ongoing:
New air skirmishes have erupted in recent weeks in the East China Sea with Japan and in contested South China Sea waters with Vietnam.
So how firm on the Obama scale is Mr Hagel? There must be a shadow or a ghost of firmness somewhere about. It was detected by a Chinese lady general in a “restatement” of a “defense commitment” to Japan. Wow!
In questions following Hagel’s remarks, a Chinese general testily asked the defense secretary to explain what she called his own “subtle threat of force” in restating the U.S. defense commitment to Japan even as he called for a negotiated settlement of contesting claims to East China Sea islands.
Watch out now for the assertion that the Obama position is clear. Whenever an Obama position is very faint, particularly uncertain, he or one of his servants will say that it is “clear”:
“America’s position is clear,” Hagel said. “These territorial disputes should be resolved through international law.”
International law. That clear? That firm? “International law” is a will-o-the-wisp, a fancy, a trick of the light, smoke and mirrors.
But at the same time, he said, the United States has treaty commitments to several countries in the region, including Japan, the Philippines and South Korea.
We like that “but”. There’s the sharpness, you see. “But” the US has treaty commitments. They may involve mention of military support! The big contrast to international law. Strong stuff, like the treaty commitment the US had to defending Ukraine’s independence. When Ukraine’s independence was threatened, when a chunk of its territory was seized by Russia, the US commitment held like cardboard in the rain.
But enough of ghostly saber rattling.
Those Eastern countries towards which Obama is tilting must be reminded of what Obama expects of them. What he expects of them is his policy towards them.
Returning to familiar themes, Hagel nudged South Korea and Japan toward greater defense cooperation that will allow a unified missile defense system against North Korea, which is suspected of preparing a fourth nuclear test. He called on China to play “a more active role” in using its influence on Pyongyang, urged Thailand’s military to restore democracy and praised Burma for ending military dictatorship.
And if they would only take those decisive steps, US partnership would prove a real boon.
If anything, Hagel indicated, “the Asia-Pacific’s shifting security landscape makes America’s partnerships and alliances indispensable as anchors for regional stability.” …
While budgets may be cut elsewhere, Hagel said, “both President Obama and I remain committed to ensuring that any reductions in U.S. defense spending do not come at the expense of America’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific,” where they have said 60 percent of U.S. air and naval assets will be based by 2020.
Although the administration has promised that resources saved by ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be used both for the Asia rebalance and for the new Middle East and African counterterrorism strategy that Obama outlined this past week in an address at the U.S. Military Academy, a senior defense official said little competition was involved.
What could he mean by “competition”. Could he mean (shudder!) a possibility of military opposition? None of that sort of thing? So what matters are the alliances in themselves, not any purpose beyond them. Do not even think it.
Asia, Hagel said in his speech, is an example of the stronger “global partnerships and alliances” Obama described this week as a cornerstone of his foreign and security policy. …
Now at last we are told why Hagel has “a sense of ownership in Asia”. Get ready to be impressed.
Hagel’s Vietnam experience is only part of his attachment to Asia, the senior defense official said. His father was a bomber tail-gunner in the Pacific in World War II. As president of the USO and a business executive who founded a lucrative cellphone network, Hagel traveled frequently to the region even before his election to the Senate in 1996.
And that adds up to -
“I’ve got this long history, this confluence with my background, my history,” said [an] official, describing what he said was Hagel’s thought process. “It’s what I’m good at, what I’m interested in.”
We won’t even dignify all that with a comment – the silliness speaks for itself.
What we have to understand is that Hagel is determined to succeed. You may find this hard to believe, but he is as determined to succeed in the Far East as Secretary of State John Kerry was determined to succeed in the Middle East. That determined.
[His] aides portray Hagel’s dedication to the Asia-Pacific and his determination to succeed here as equal to that of Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s highly publicized (but stalled) efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace, only with less media attention and more potential for long-term success.
More potential, eh? Efforts that will not “stall”? There’s optimism for you!
Meanwhile what is going on with the Far East in the real world?
Events so huge that they mark “a major alteration in the global balance of power”.
Charles Krauthammer writes (May 22, 2014) at the Washington Post:
It finally happened — the pivot to Asia. No, not the United States. It was Russia that turned East.
In Shanghai, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a spectacular energy deal — $400 billion of Siberian natural gas to be exported to China over 30 years.
This is huge. By indelibly linking producer and consumer — the pipeline alone is a $70 billion infrastructure project — it deflates the post-Ukraine Western threat (mostly empty, but still very loud) to cut European imports of Russian gas. Putin has just defiantly demonstrated that he has other places to go.
The Russia-China deal also makes a mockery of U.S. boasts to have isolated Russia because of Ukraine. Not even Germany wants to risk a serious rupture with Russia (hence the absence of significant sanctions). And now Putin has just ostentatiously unveiled a signal 30-year energy partnership with the world’s second-largest economy. Some isolation.
The contrast with President Obama’s own vaunted pivot to Asia is embarrassing (to say nothing of the Keystone pipeline with Canada). He went to Japan last month also seeking a major trade agreement that would symbolize and cement a pivotal strategic alliance. He came home empty-handed.
Does the Obama foreign policy team even understand what is happening? For them, the Russia-China alliance is simply more retrograde, 19th-century, balance-of-power maneuvering by men of the past oblivious to the reality of a 21st century governed by law and norms. A place where, for example, one simply doesn’t annex a neighbor’s territory. Indeed, Obama scolds Russia and China for not living up to their obligations as major stakeholders in this new interdependent world.
The Chinese and Russians can only roll their eyes. These norms and rules mean nothing to them. Sure, they’ll join the World Trade Organization for the commercial advantages – then cheat like hell with cyberespionage and intellectual piracy. They see these alleged norms as forms of velvet-glove imperialism, clever extensions of a Western hegemony meant to keep Russia in its reduced post-Soviet condition and China contained by a dominant US military.
Obama cites modern rules; Russia and China, animated by resurgent nationalism, are governed by ancient maps. Putin refers to eastern and southern Ukraine by the old czarist term of “New Russia”. And China’s foreign minister justifies vast territorial claims that violate maritime law by citing traditional (“nine-dash”) maps that grant China dominion over the East and South China seas.
Which makes this alignment of the world’s two leading anti-Western powers all the more significant.
It marks a major alteration in the global balance of power. …
China and Russia together represent the core of a new coalition of anti-democratic autocracies challenging the Western-imposed, post-Cold War status quo.
Their enhanced partnership marks the first emergence of a global coalition against American hegemony since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Indeed, at this week’s Asian cooperation conference, Xi proposed a brand-new continental security system to include Russia and Iran (lest anyone mistake its anti-imperialist essence) and exclude America.
This is an open challenge to the post-Cold War, US-dominated world that Obama inherited and then weakened beyond imagining.
If carried through, it would mark the end of a quarter-century of unipolarity. And herald a return to a form of bipolarity — two global coalitions: one free, one not… [A] struggle … for dominion and domination.
To which Obama, who once proclaimed that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation,” is passive, perhaps even oblivious. His pivot to Asia remains a dead letter. Yet his withdrawal from the Middle East — where from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, from Libya to Syria, US influence is at its lowest ebb in 40 years — is a fait accompli.
The retreat is compounded by Obama’s proposed massive cuts in defense spending … even as Russia is rearming and China is creating a sophisticated military soon capable of denying America access to the waters of the Pacific Rim.
Decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. In this case, Obama’s choice. And it’s the one area where he can be said to be succeeding splendidly.
He walked Independence Square in Kiev, the site of months of turmoil, and spoke with leaders of the protest movement, many of them college-aged. He visited a hospital in Tzfat, Israel, where he saw Israeli doctors provide free medical care to Syrians gravely wounded in the civil war there.
Despite his god-botheriness (an infection of irrationality from which no American politician known to us is free), and at risk of attracting the disapproval of some of our highly valued readers, we confess that we like Ted Cruz. We think he might make a good president.
Here’s an account of his current travels abroad issued by the Heritage Foundation, with the views he has expressed on issues of foreign affairs:
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, visited Israel, Ukraine, Poland and Estonia this week and detailed his travels in a conference call today …
Cruz gave a personal account of how those countries perceive American leadership during a turbulent time in the region. …
[He] reaffirmed his contention that Israel is America’s strongest ally and one that requires support to buffer peace talks with the Palestinians.
“The U.S. needs to stand with Israel,” Cruz said on the conference call. “No one wants to see peace more than Israel. But consistently, the Obama administration has criticized and attacked the leadership of Israel. Over the last five years, America is receding from leadership in the world, and Russia, Iran, and China have stepped into that vacuum and made the world a more dangerous place.”
Cruz emphasized the U.S. has no business dictating terms of a peace agreement, but he criticized the Palestinians for recent failures in the talks, and established basic requirements he said any agreement must have.
“The Palestinians need to renounce terrorism and to declare that Israel has the right to exist,” said Cruz, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If not, negotiations will fail.”
Similarly, after meeting with Ukraine protest leaders in Maidan Square and later on with Ukrainian Jewish and Catholic leaders, Cruz described a country eager for help, in any form it can get.
Help also means deterring the force of Russia, by imposing tougher sanctions than the Obama administration has applied, he said.
“One thing I took away from the Ukrainian leaders is that the military lacks basic equipment, such as armor, communication tools and night-vision goggles,” Cruz said. “The leadership in Ukraine is looking for help wherever it can find it. And it’s in our interest to help. We ought to be using all the tools of soft power to impose significant sanctions on Russia.” …
Cruz declared the nuclear threat of Iran the biggest hindrance to peace and the largest test of American credibility.
He criticized the Geneva interim agreement, a pact between Iran and the P5+1 countries officially titled the Joint Plan of Action, which decreased economic sanctions on Iran as the countries work at a long-term agreement.
Cruz said sanctions should be lifted only when Iran disassembles its centrifuges and hands over its enriched uranium.
“The current deal is a very, very bad deal and a historic mistake,” Cruz said. “In the best-case scenario, we leave Iran to the threshold of a nuclear breakout. There’s concern in Israel that the U.S. deal with Iran exacerbates the problem. Every leader I met viewed the prospect of Iran getting a nuclear weapon as the strongest threat facing Israel and the U.S.”
We agree with these views of his. (Only we don’t think there should be any “peace process” involving Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians should be integrated into some of the 21 Arab states, and Israel should set its borders.)
As always, we invite comment.
No secretary of state has ever had to cope with problems as complicated and difficult as those the world now presents to John Kerry.
If one craves a little light relief in these days of continual vexation, one can always turn to him.
This video clip and comment by Steven Hayward come from PowerLine.
The short video below captures our alleged secretary of state John Kerry in full. He speaks about the “bipolar” world of the Cold War, but it really isn’t a very good idea for a person of his limited mental capacities to use the word “bipolar.” More to the point: it takes a lot of moxie to talk about how foreign relations during the Cold War were “easier” or “simpler” than today. Back in the day, it was left-liberals like Kerry who complained endlessly that the Cold War was “complicated,” and disdained Ronald Reagan for his supposed simplicity in pointing out the simple fact that we were dealing with an evil empire that needed to be put in the course of ultimate extinction.
You need to see this, not to believe it:
And, to judge by his gesture, he seems to think “quashed” means “squashed”. Though how “many things were squashed” back in the “bipolar” Cold War days is so obscure an idea, he might as well mean “quashed” for all the sense it makes.
Why did the West fail to claim an ideological or moral victory at the apparent end of the Cold War?
Did the West really even win the Cold War?
Diana West asks these questions. She goes on:
If we go back in time and listen, we hear no consensus click over signs that an unalloyed US-led triumph over communist ideology had taken place; nor do we find a sense of national thanksgiving for the forces of good – or, at least, for the forces of better – in their triumph over the forces of a non-abstract evil as manifested in Gulag or KGB or famine or purge history. “Mustn’t gloat” was about as joyous as the White House of Bush No. 41 ever got.
The inability to proclaim victory loud and clear derives from the Christian injunction to be humble.
Almost everything that handicaps our civilization comes from its Christian legacy; and everything that drives it forward to discover and innovate, to attain greater prosperity, longer life – whatever general conditions are needed for such happiness as we may individually be capable of – is the legacy of the Enlightenment, the awakening from the long dark nightmare of “God’s” reign, the rise of reason. It only happened to the West. Reason and its children Science, Freedom, and the United States of America, made the West great; not, as those lovers of the darkness, the god-worshipers, like to intone, the “Judeo-Christian” tradition.
All religions are the ideological enemies of the West. But yes, the Red ones, Communism and its conjoined twin Environmentalism, are the most dangerous at present. They suffuse and weaken our culture and our civilization.
They are the New Christianities.
Diana West is right to diagnose Communism as the transforming blight.
Was the official non-reaction due to that “crisis of confidence” we always hear about — specifically, that “politically correct” failure to believe in the worth of the West? I used to think exactly that and no more. The self-loathing West, failing to see anything of value in itself, was simply unable to take satisfaction, let alone pride, in the demise of its mass-murdering nemesis. “After all,” the PC catechism goes, “Who’s to say the Western system is ‘better’ than any other?”
But there is far more to it. At a certain point, it becomes clear that what we are looking at isn’t a West that fails to appreciate itself anymore, but rather a West that isn’t itself anymore.
Decades of subversion by communist infiltrators and American traitors, collaborators and “useful idiots” have helped make sure of that. So, even if the military enemy went away after the dissolution of the USSR on Christmas Day 1991, our ideological enemy never even had to break step.
Cold Warriors might have prevailed abroad, but America lost the ideological Cold War at home.
This helps explain why our college campuses are outposts of Marx, our centralizing government is increasingly invasive and dictatorial, and our culture is one of metastasizing decadence …
President Obama’s recent speech in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union, reveals the chasm between what we have become and what we are supposed to be. Wearing his “Leader of the Free World” hat, Obama made the case against Russia’s annexation of Crimea by conjuring a Manichaean split between free societies and dictatorships. But does it fit?
According to the president, there are free societies where “each of us has the right to live as we choose,” and there are dictatorships where the rule is “ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs.” Americans confronting government-mandated health insurance would do well to wonder exactly which society they live in.
Obama continued: “In many ways, the history of Europe in the 20th century represented the ongoing clash of these two sets of ideas.” That contest, he explained, swerving wildly away from historical fact, was won “not by tanks or missiles, but because our ideals stirred the hearts” of Eastern Bloc anti-communists.
Omitted was the fact that these revolts were mainly crushed without US aid. Omitted also was the decisive role that President Reagan’s “tanks and missiles” – and missile defense – played in the military contest.
In this post-World War II era, Obama declared, “America joined with Europe to reject the darker forces of the past and build a new architecture of peace.”
Russia’s annexation of Crimea, in sum, is an attack on that “architecture,” and, as such, is bad.
On closer examination, however, that same US-EU “architecture” doesn’t support the free-society paradigm so much as what the president calls the “more traditional view of power” – the one that sees “ordinary men and women (as) too small-minded to govern their own affairs.”
This latter view aptly describes the “soft” tyranny of the EU nanny state, whose early lights, after all, were Belgian Socialists and Nazi sympathizers with visions of a unified pan-European welfare state. In Brussels, their political progeny – unelected bureaucrats – increasingly dictate political and social norms across a “United States of Europe”.
In the US, the medical totalitarianism of Obamacare – not to mention Obama’s serial usurpations of power (not enforcing legislation he doesn’t like, making up and enforcing legislation he does like) – makes it all too clear that this president has a dictatorial temperament.
This is unsurprising when you consider that his political baby, his engine of transformative change – state-mandated health care – happens also to have been an early program of the Bolsheviks, and had as one of its earliest US boosters a noted Stalinist named Henry Sigerist. This seems like as good a moment as any to remind readers that the UN and the IMF, those leading institutions of globalist infrastructure, were fostered into post-World War II existence by a pair of notorious American Soviet agents – Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White.
Truly, it’s a Red, Red world.
An ideology can, it seems, be simply something that is against something else. Vladimir Putin, this article suggests, sees the West as an ideological construction, and opposition to it as a counter-ideology.
This is from the Washington Post, by Masha Gessen.
“This is not another Cold War that we’re entering into,” President Obama said Wednesday in Brussels, presenting the post-Crimeaworld order as he sees it after consultations with other NATO leaders. “After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology.”
President Vladimir Putin would surely beg to differ. Over the past two years, a new ideology has taken shape at the Kremlin. Insistently pushed out over the airwaves of state-controlled television, it has taken hold as Russia’s national idea — and is the driving force behind its newly aggressive international posture. Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world.
During his annual state-of-the-federation address to parliament in December, Putin articulated this ideology. This in itself was novel: For his preceding 13 years at the helm, Putin had stuck to the pragmatic in his speeches. Now he was putting forth a vision for which many Russians had longed in the nearly quarter-century since the Soviet Union collapsed, leaving a giant hole where its citizens’ identities used to be.
So now they have found their identity in being anti-West? An identity entirely dependent on “the West” because it is defined by not being, and opposing,”the West”. That is the “real self” of the Russian people?
“The West” is largely characterized, Putin preaches, by homosexuality.
In his December speech, Putin said that Russia had no superpower ambitions in the sense of “a claim to global or regional hegemony.” Yet, he said, “We will strive to be leaders.” In explaining Russia’s new identity with relationship to the West and its claim on leadership, he said:
This is absolutely objective and understandable for a state like Russia, with its great history and culture, with many centuries of experience not of so-called tolerance, neutered and barren, but of the real organic life of different peoples existing together within the framework of a single state.
Putin was placing Russia’s very approach to life in opposition to the Western one. The “so-called tolerance” he mentioned as the key feature of Western civilization is, from this perspective, nothing but a slide into immorality. More likely than not, that includes homosexuality, which is why tolerance is described as “barren and neutered.”
“Today many nations are revising their moral values and ethical norms, eroding ethnic traditions and differences between peoples and cultures,” he continued. “Society is now required not only to recognize everyone’s right to the freedom of consciousness, political views and privacy, but also to accept without question the equality of good and evil, strange as it seems, concepts that are opposite in meaning.”
Finally, said Putin, it was time to resist this scourge of tolerance and diversity creeping in from the West. “We know that there are more and more people in the world who support our position on defending traditional values,” he asserted.
The traditional values of the Russia he longs to restore were manifest in the Gulag and the Ukrainian forced famine.
Russia’s role is to “prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.”
In short, Putin intends to save the world from the West. He has started with Crimea. When he says he is protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine, he means he is protecting them from the many terrible things that come from the West.
A few days after the December address, Alexei Pushkov, head of the Duma committee on foreign relations, defined that threat on the floor of the chamber: “European Union advisers in practically every ministry of any significance, control over the flow of finances and over national programs, and a broadening of the sphere of gay culture, which has become the European Union’s official policy.”
He apparently did not mention the broadening of the sphere of Islam, which is certainly the European Union’s official policy.
Three months later, this is exactly how Russians see the events in Ukraine:The West is literally taking over, and only Russian troops can stand between the Slavic country’s unsuspecting citizens and the homosexuals marching in from Brussels.
Now, Russia is not leading a bloc of nations in this new anti-Western crusade — at least, not yet. But it is certainly not alone in its longing for “traditional values”. Russia has been assembling an informal “traditional values” bloc in the United Nations, where the Human Rights Council has passed a series of Russian-sponsored resolutions opposing gay rights over the past three years. Russia’s allies in passing these resolutions include not only its post-Soviet neighbors but also China, Ecuador, Malaysia and more than a dozen other states.
The anti-gay agenda may seem like a thin basis for forming a militant international alliance of state-actors, but it has great unifying potential when framed in terms of a broader anti-Western effort and, indeed, a civilizational mission.
That mission, rather than the mere desire to bite off a piece of a neighboring country, is the driving force behind Putin’s new war — and the reason the Russian public supports it so strongly. This war, they hope, will make Russia not only bigger but also make it great again.