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.
In just five years, Barack Obama has succeeded in crippling the American economy and shattering the world order under the Pax Americana.
Americans feel the grave economic effects of his domestic policies more immediately and urgently, but it is the shattering of the world order that will ultimately change their lives for the worse.
President Vladimir Putin found that “he could annex Crimea without firing a single bullet”. He has good reason to think that “he will later be able to do the same with the rest of Ukraine”. But he will probably “wait until the situation worsens and the impotence of the United States and Europe becomes even more obvious”.
That is part of the picture of the crumbling world order, described here by Professor Guy Millière (of the University of Paris), at Gatestone.
[Putin] apparently considers that he has in front of him a weak and declining America. And the general demeanor of the present U.S. administration tends to prove him right. The United States seem in full retreat. U.S. military budgets continue to fall. For the last five years, Barack Obama spoke of “ending” the wars in which the U.S. was involved, and he depends on Russia’s cooperation for further negotiations with Iran, for dismantling chemical weapons in Syria, and for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Putin doubtless thinks that Obama will not enter into an open conflict with Russia. Sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States are insignificant, and Putin has every reason to think they will not increase. …
[He] evidently considers Europe even weaker than America. The way European leaders speak and act shows that he is not wrong. For decades, Western European countries relied on the U.S. defense umbrella; none of them today has an army capable of doing more than extremely limited operations. Their foreign policy positions converge with the Obama administration positions. They all have deep economic and financial links with Russia and cannot break these links. The UK needs the Russian capital invested in the City of London. France cannot cancel its Russian warship contract without having to close its shipyards in Saint Nazaire, and without being confronted with major social conflicts. Germany could not survive long without Russian oil and natural gas. Overall, Russia provides thirty percent of the natural gas consumed in Western Europe. Putin apparently thinks that Europe will not enter into an open conflict with Russia. …
Either the West will stand up to Putin, and it will have to do it fast, or Putin will win. Obviously, Europe will not stand up. Polls indicate that Americans are turning sharply toward isolationism.
Showing his view of the situation, Obama recently said that Russia is nothing but a “regional power”, acting “out of weakness”.
What is Russia’s “region”?
Russia covers ten time zones and has borders with Europe, the Muslim Middle East, China, North Korea, and Alaska.
Yes, Russia has a common border with the United States. The US is in its region.
If massing troops on the borders of Ukraine and annexing Crimea are signs of “weakness,” by its evident impotence, America appears even weaker.
Will Putin be content with annexing Crimea, or even the whole of Ukraine?
Several plebiscites have been held since 2006 in Transnistria, a strip of land between Ukraine and Moldova, and each of them has indicated a willingness to join Russia. Estonia includes a large Russian minority, and Russian leaders in Moscow speak of the need to “protect” the Russian population of Estonia.
Estonia is a member of NATO. If Russia were to attack it, NATO, according to Article 5 of its charter, should defend it with prompt military action. But would it? NATO’s military power is America’s military power. Under Obama,what chance is there that America would go to war in Europe?
The world order built after the Second World War was shaped by America. For almost five decades, its goal was to contain Soviet expansion. In the late 1980s, the Soviet empire collapsed, and another phase began: an arrangement in which America would keep the peace and assure the survival of liberty.
America has apparently abrogated that responsibility.
And if Russia is not deterred, other powers will be encouraged to advance their interests abroad by force.
Rogue leaders around the world are watching and drawing their own conclusions.
[The Iranian Ayatollah] Khamenei sees no reason to stop saying that America is the “Great Satan” and that Israel has to be wiped off the map. China sees no reason to hide its intention to occupy the Senkaku/Diyaoyu Islands. Last week, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un fired six missiles into the sea of Japan. [President] Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela reaffirmed its alliance with Russia and positioned Russian missiles in Caracas.
Guy Millière predicts that the chaos will increase and speed up. He sees disaster coming fast.
If we do not see the Ukraine as a warning signal, we could quickly discover that life could now easily enter the state of nature in Hobbes’s Leviathan: [solitary, poor,] nasty, brutish and short.
Ukraine is a far away country of which we know nothing, and Democrats and libertarians can see no reason why Americans should care if Russia swallows it.
But Americans need to take notice that Russia is also sniffing under the door of their homeland.
This is from Front Page by Joseph Klein.
Russia is also on the march far from its immediate neighborhood and much closer to the United States. According to Gen. James Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, who discussed his concerns regarding the increased presence of Russia in Latin America at a Senate hearing earlier this month, there has been a “noticeable uptick in Russian power projection and security force personnel. It has been over three decades since we last saw this type of high-profile Russian military presence.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced last month plans to build military bases in .. Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua …
Russia is already a major arms supplier to Venezuela, whose navy has conducted joint maneuvers with Russian ships. At least four Russian Navy ships visited Venezuela last August …
“Two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers flew last October from an airbase in southwestern Russia and landed in Venezuela in routine exercise,” Russia’s Defense Ministry announced … “The nuclear-capable bombers, which took off from the Engels airbase in the Volga region, flew over the Caribbean, the eastern Pacific and along the southwestern coast of the North American continent, and landed at Maiquetia airfield in Venezuela.”
Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, is so enamored of Putin that he expressed support last year for the Russian president to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. During a visit to Moscow by Maduro last summer, Maduro and Putin reaffirmed, in Putin’s words, “their wish for continuing their course towards strategic cooperation in all sectors”.
Putin was the first Russian president to visit Cuba since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Pravda quoted Putin as declaring in 2012 that Russia gained the consent of the Cuban leadership to place “the latest mobile strategic nuclear missiles ‘Oak’ on the island”, supposedly as a brush back against U.S. actions to create a buffer zone near Russia.
Last month, according to a report by Fox News Latino, “the intelligence-gathering ship Viktor Leonov docked in Havana’s harbor without warning”. It was reportedly armed with 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.
Left-wing Argentinian President Cristina Fernández is intent on forging closer relations with Russia, inviting Russia to invest in fuel projects. In return for Russia’s support of Argentina’s quest to annex the Falkland Islands, Fernández supported Putin’s grab of Crimea. Crimea “has always belonged to Russia,” she said, just as the Falkland Islands have “always belonged to Argentina”. …
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa praised Russia as a “great nation” during a visit to Moscow last October after Putin pledged to invest up to $1.5 billion into new domestic energy projects in Ecuador. Correa said Ecuador was also interested in buying Russian military equipment.
Brazil is planning to purchase short-to-medium-range surface-to-air Pantsir S1 missile batteries and Igla-S shoulder-held missiles from Russia. It has already bought 12 Mi-35 attack helicopters. This is all part of what Brazil views as a growing strategic relationship with Russia, as Brazil leads efforts to counter U.S. electronic surveillance that included alleged spying on Brazilian citizens. …
After Daniel Ortega, the leader of the Sandinista revolution, returned to power in Nicaragua in 2007, Russia and Nicaragua have moved in the direction of a strategic economic and military relationship. In October 2013, for example, Nicaragua and Russia signed a memorandum of international security cooperation. Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev noted during his visit to Nicaragua that “Nicaragua is an important partner and friend of Russia in Latin America,” pointing to the coincidence of views of the two countries’ authorities “on many issues”. For his part, Ortega said: “We are very grateful and very much appreciate the Russian people’s support of our country.” Ortega welcomed the arrival of two Russian strategic bombers Tupolev Tu-160. …
Nicaragua’s parliament has ratified a cabinet resolution allowing Russian military divisions, ships and aircraft to visit the republic during the first half of 2014 for experience sharing and training of military personnel … Furthermore, the parliament has approved the participation of Russian military personnel in joint patrols of the republic’s territorial waters in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean from January 1 through June 30, 2015.
Russia is also forging a closer relationship with El Salvador, which has been led by the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) that arose out of a left-wing guerrilla movement from the country’s 1979-1992 civil war. Leftist ex-guerrilla Sanchez Ceren has just won the presidential election. He can be expected to build on the Federal Law On Ratification of the Agreement on the Foundations of Relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of El Salvador, signed by Vladimir Putin in November 2012. It was the first interstate agreement between the two countries since they established diplomatic relations in 1992. In fact, given Ceren’s background – one of five top guerrilla commanders during the civil war that left 76,000 dead and over 12,000 missing – we can expect a more avowedly anti-U.S. government that will welcome Russia’s outstretched arms. After all, the FMLN leadership during the civil war described its own ideology as “Marxism-Leninism”.
Has Putin ever renounced the Marxist-Leninist ideology of the KGB, in which he served? He thinks the fall of the Soviet Union was a great tragedy, so the answer is “probably not”. But we guess that his main reason for regretting the passing of the USSR is that it was, or seemed to be for the greater part of some 70 years, a mighty power, and he is more concerned with extending Russian power again, recreating a Russian empire, than with the old failed Bolshevik ideology. South American leftist leaders may want to cozy up to Putin because they enjoy the Gemütlichkeit of a shared love of Communism, and he is obviously happy to have them hug him for any reason, but his motive in exploiting their sentimental friendship is to achieve imperial ends. He probably hates the fact that the West won the Cold War. He surely cannot hope to reverse that outcome. It would be an insane dream – if the US were not under the presidency of Barack Obama. Putin – and Iran, and China – can do a lot of damage to the world and the US in the three years left of Obama’s feeble leadership.
Contrary to Marxian dogma, no historical development is inevitable. And all actions have unintended consequences. So prophecy is a risky enterprise.
But we have to calculate the probable outcomes of what we do.
Daniel Greenfield has prophesied - plausibly, we think – what will happen when America ceases to be the predominant power in the world.
International organizations will be good for little except sucking up the last drops of wealth and prestige of the United States. It will be a chaotic place with everyone out for themselves. …
There will be three post-ideological powers, no longer global in scope, and one worldwide ideological alliance.
The United States, Russia and China are post-ideological states. Russia and China have abandoned Communism. The United States is even abandoning nationalism; to say nothing of capitalism, democracy or freedom. Its rulers cling to scraps of global leftist ideology that isolate them from their own people.
Russia and China are run by powerful corrupt elites who emerged from the old Communist order to build economic oligarchies enforced by the ruthless use of force. The United States is increasingly run by an oligarchy of ideological bureaucrats, corrupt technocrats and leftist academics that has a distant resemblance to the USSR and the PRC; but its long march through the institutions hasn’t turned fully totalitarian yet. That may be less than a generation away.
Russia, China and the United States are all demographically unstable. Russia and the United States are both on track to become majority-minority countries. China’s demographic disaster will be the outcome of its one child policies, gender abortion and its war on the countryside. The United States will probably weather its demographic problems better than Russia or China, because the former faces a fatal Muslim demographic takeover and the latter a conflict that will tear its society apart, but like Russia and China, the demographic crisis in the United States will be exacerbated by the lack of common bonds to see it through a period of social stress.
Russia and China will fall back into their own history, collapse and isolationism for China, barbarian rule for Russia. The United States has no such history to fall back on and its elites have abandoned any meaningful national identity that doesn’t rely on pop culture and liberal pieties.
There is little to unify Russia or China … The KGB oligarchs of Russia and the Communist princes of China are as globalist as any Eurocrat. They have few national commitments. Their goals are wealth and power for their families and associates.
Unfortunately there is even less to unify the United States after the left embraced multiculturalism at the expense of exceptionalism. The erosion of everything from free speech to the free market has reduced the American Dream from individual opportunity to vulgar exhibitionism. Uncontrolled immigration has imported masses of hostile populations everywhere from Nashville to Minneapolis radically changing quintessentially American cultures and replacing them with balkanized minority coalitions who have little in common except a mutual hostility against the United States.
In contrast to the cultural vulnerabilities of the three powers, Islam, the defining global ideological alliance, lacks a superstate as the center of its empire, though it has many state bases, but enjoys the allegiance of a worldwide population larger than any of the three powers. Demographic projections continue to favor the growth of Islam over China, Russia and the United States.
It would be a mistake however to think that China, Russia and the United States are in a conflict with Islam. While Islam is in a conflict with them, each of the three powers divides Muslims into three groups; those Muslims that are within the “empire”, part of China, Russia’s Eurasian Union or the United States, those that are outside the “empire” but allied to it, e.g. Syria for Russia, Saudi Arabia for the United States and Pakistan for China, and those that are its separatist or terrorist enemies.
Instead of coming to terms with a global struggle with Islam, each power largely concentrates on fighting Muslim separatist or terrorist groups that destabilize its sphere of influence while arming, funding and supporting those Muslim separatist and terrorist groups that destabilize rival powers.
It is therefore simplistic to act as if America, Russia and China have a common interest in fighting Islam. While that may be true, that is not how the leaders of the three powers see it. Putin fights some Islamists while incorporating others into his allied clergy and helping still others go nuclear. The United States bombs the Taliban, but would never consider bombing their paymasters in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.
Muslim terrorists operate in all three powers, but are dismissed as unrepresentative aberrations. That is wishful thinking, but empires are shaped to fight their own kind. Islam, like Communism, is something different. It is an ideology and post-ideological powers … are poorly adapted to fighting it. Instead many of their elites secretly admire its dedication. …
Like a hyena trotting after prey, Islam is a cultural carrion eater consuming the skills and knowledge of superior civilizations to sustain its warlordism …
The collapse of the Pax Americana under Obama has freed up Russia and China to begin their campaigns of territorial expansionism. Obama’s failure to deter Russia in Ukraine will encourage China to use force as a solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. These events will wake the world from the dream of the Pax Americana in which American power kept the peace in much of the developed world.
The end of the Pax Americana also means the end of international law. Instead of a post-American world ushering in a stable multilateral order … no single power will predominate, but … any country or militia that can seize a piece of land or a natural resource will go ahead and do so. …
The First World may wake up to discover that it is once again living under Third World rules.
Those most immediately affected by the decline of the United States will be the Asian and European countries that outsourced their defense to the United States after WW2. Japan has a limited time in which to turn around its economy, demographics and military to be able to face down China.
Europe was able to turn inward without having to make the hard choices and its elites were even able to drag the United States into implementing their vision internationally. But that is coming to an end. …
The European Union may implode in the coming years, but whether it does or does not, Western Europe will continue to be defined by the quarrels between the UK, France and Germany. The various other players have never been anything other than places to put factories, launder money or import cheap labor from. …
Europe, unlike the United States, has not been known for its altruism, and its nations face a crippling combination of problems. Europe suffers from Japanese birth rates, Russian demographics, Chinese corruption and American economics (though it would be more accurate to say that America suffers from EU economics.) Despite its size and population, Europe does not have an optimistic future. …
Russia will not stop with Ukraine and NATO will dissolve, officially or unofficially. It may stay around and limit itself to providing humanitarian aid internationally while expelling Poland and any countries that Russia is likely to want to add to its collection. …
The budding Russian empire will find that fighting a new wave of Muslim insurgencies in formerly peaceful republics will consume too much of its time and energy. The soldiers who will march on the scattered pieces of the old red empire will be Muslims and the Eurasian Union will become a Muslim empire with a handful of churches. Like Rome, its fall will come at the hands of its own barbarians.
Iraq and Afghanistan will not prove to be as psychologically devastating to Americans as Vietnam, but they will help discourage further deployments overseas. Severe military budget cuts and a campaign against the warrior culture will leave the military in no shape for anything except peacekeeping missions.
The United States will face escalating domestic unrest, less from militias than from gangs, terrorism and the economic collapse of entire cities. It will no longer be in a position to act abroad.
None of this has to happen, but it will if the same bad decisions continue to be made.
If eight years of Obama are topped by eight years of Hillary, this is where we will end up.
The writer points out that if the civilized world fails to resolve its “economic, demographic and military crises … the civilization in which we have grown up and which we have known all our lives will die and a long interregnum of darkness will follow in its wake”.
Yes, that’s all too probable, and profoundly horrible.
But it may be that an entirely different kind of civilization will emerge. That technologies – already in the womb of time – will set the individual freer than he could ever possibly have been before. That governments will lose power. That social elites without technological skills will lose credibility. That law-making will be done by new procedures, and the nature of law and the manner of its enforcement will change to fit new ideas of how liberty may be protected. That religion – so outworn and squalid a thing, a mere relic of an ignorant past – will wither away, perceived at last to be worse than useless.
There now, we ourselves have ventured beyond speculation and touched on prophecy. And because prophecy cannot be accurate, we are not likely to be right. But by the same token, we may not be entirely wrong.
Congress could prevent Obama from giving “an international body” control of the Internet as he plans to do.
(Why has he the power to do this anyway?)
L. Gordon Crovitz writes at the Wall Street Journal:
Authoritarian governments led by Russia and China long ago found ways to block access to the Internet for their citizens.
Under the new Obama plan, these regimes could also block access to the Internet for Americans.
There is recent precedent: Authoritarian governments tried to block new Internet top-level domains beyond the familiar .com and .org and .net. Saudi Arabia sought to veto the addition of .gay as being “offensive”. It also tried to block .bible, .islam and .wine. Under US control, the Saudis were denied their wishes. With some new post-US system of governance, will .gay websites be removed from the Internet?
The plan announced on March 14 would have the US give up control of the “root zone file” of the Internet and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. This root of the Internet stores all the names and addresses for websites world-wide, while ICANN controls Web addresses and domains. The US has used this control to ensure that websites operate without political interference from any country and that anyone can start a website, organize on Facebook … or post on Twitter … without asking permission.
It’s easy to imagine a new Internet oversight body operating like the United Nations, with repressive governments taking turns silencing critics. China could get its wish to remove FreeTibet.org from the Internet as an affront to its sovereignty. Russia could force Twitter to remove posts by Ukrainian-Americans criticizing Vladimir Putin. …
Contacted by this columnist last week, a spokesman for the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration said the agency reviewed this legal issue and concluded the administration can act without Congress but refused to share a copy of the legal analysis. Congress should ask for a copy and do its own analysis.
Congress also could tell the Commerce Department not to carry out its plan.
In 2012, both the Senate and House passed a unanimous resolution to keep the Internet “free from government control”. That happened as the Obama administration was being outfoxed by Russia and China, which hijacked the UN’s International Telecommunication Union to legitimize control over the Internet in their countries. Protecting the Internet may be the most bipartisan issue in Congress.
Will Congress act? Is it still alive?