Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Origins and Consequences of Barack Obama's Weakness !

President Obama and John Kerry
In 1983, an idealistic socialist student of political science at Columbia University in New York City penned an article for the university magazine railing against the ''war mentality'' of America and ''the relentless, often silent spread of militarism in the country.''  He said President Ronald Reagan was a hostage to the ''twisted logic of the Cold War'', he wrote, and was ''playing into the Russians' hands'' rather than ''shifting America off the dead-end track'' and pursuing the proper goal of a ''nuclear-free world.''  Well, we all know it was Russians that played into Reagan's hands that ended the Cold War.

A quarter of a century later, the author, Barack Obama was elected to the White House. While due allowance could be made for the callow scribblings of any student, there have been striking echoes of Obama's na├»ve suspicion of American power during his five years as President. In those five years President Obama has led a foreign policy more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which he said ''the tide of war is receding'' and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances -- these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry stupidly displayed this Obama-mindset on Australian radio when he said of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, ''It's a 19th century act in the 21st century.'' 

Unfortunately, President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st century behaviour. I remember last October in the 3rd presidential campaign debate with Mitt Romney, Obama smugly critiquing a quote Romney made saying that the biggest geopolitical  threat to the America and the world is not al-Qaeda but Russia, by saying loudly, ''don't you know that the Cold War has been over for 20 years?'' What an idiot Obama seems today. Unfortunately he's the idiot in charge of what's left of a defence of what is left of the free world. Obama's leadership - or lack of it - has only hastened the decline of Western power and the new axis emerges.

Russia has said China is largely ''in agreement'' over Ukraine, after other world powers condemned Moscow for sending troops into the country. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Ukraine by telephone with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and claimed they had ''broadly coinciding points of view'' on the situation. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: ''China has always upheld the principles of diplomacy and the fundamental norms of international relations.'' But he added, ''At the same time we also take into consideration the history and the current complexities of the Ukrainian issue.''

It's a sinister reminder for the West that the rest of the world doesn't think force is a bad thing. While most advanced economies have been cutting back on defence, the Russian Federation has embarked on the greatest expansion of its military since the end of the Cold War. Putin's latest move is further proof that he is prepared to use force to reassert Russian influence within the boundaries of the former Soviet Union - a chilling reality for not just Ukraine but for other Eastern European and Central Asian states. It is also a reminder for a complacent European Union that old-fashioned power politics in Eurasia is not merely a thing of the past but alive and all too well.

Russia's military invasion of Georgia showed that Putin was willing to use force against peripheral states moving against Russian interests. Georgia provides a predictable strategy for Russian response to the loss of Ukraine to Europe: invade on the pretext of protecting a Russian minority. After all, there the EU and US proved powerless to stop the forcible change of Georgia's sovereign borders by force. Reluctant to characterise the Russian military push - a flagrant breach of Ukraine's sovereignty and international law - as a hostile action, the Obama administration chose to term it laughingly as an ''uncontested arrival'', similarly the most startling US foreign policy euphemism since the ''war on terror'' was renamed an ''overseas contingency operation.''

The Way I See It.....the Left, of which Barack Obama is graduate member, (see previous 3 serial posts titled Barack Obama's Un-Holy Trinity (Mentors of Ill-Repute) parts 1,2 & 3 - August, 2012- for enlightenment), have argued for many years for disarmament of the West, can now see what they have wrought. Who now can stand against Russia and China, who have far fewer reservations about the use of force. Obama will not change. We have seen a lot of this and we're going to see more. Besides Russia and China you have Syria, the Egyptian generals, (Hamid Karzi in Afghanistan, Iran within Iraq, Hezbollah - you can keep rattling them off. Everyone is reacting to this weakness.

Next, China might seize the Senkaku, also known as the Diayou, islands from Japan; Iran might judge that the cost of acquiring nuclear weapons would be bearable; North Korea might flex its muscles again; Assad's Syria has no obvious need to come to the table. A vacuum has been created - and is starting to be filled by leaders with far fewer scruples about using force. China is watching the US reaction. What would it conclude about the US's readiness to defend Taiwan????

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