Skip to comments.Obama Enters Putinís World
Posted on 03/03/2014 1:56:35 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
At the beginning of February, Fred Kaplan, the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, headlined a Slate article, Obama Isnt Disengaged From the World: He just has a better understanding of how power works in the modern world.
Power, as it turned out, worked much the same way in the modern world as it did back in the horses and bayonets era as Putin demonstrated when he did what no one in the West believed he would do by sending men and armor into Crimea.
Since one doesnt get to be an Edward R. Murrow fellow by sitting on ones hands, Kaplan dashed off to pen a follow-up article headlined: Theres Nothing Obama Could Have Done to Stop Putin. Kaplans advice to Obama was to avoid threatening Putin with consequences.
Obama should be looking for common interests. One such interest is ending the bloodshed, Kaplan suggested.
If the Russian dictator is known for anything its his tender heart and opposition to bloodshed.
Even Putin couldnt want to send troops to the Ukrainian heartland, Kaplan wrote. Unless of course Putin, whom foreign policy experts assured us couldnt possibly want to send troops into Crimea, turns out to be ignorant of how power works in the modern world and does it anyway.
If that happens then the same experts who told us he wouldnt do it, will tell us that we cant do anything about it. Its not in the nature of power in the modern world.
You just dont in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext, a baffled Secretary of State John Kerry said, as if Putin had decided to bring back monocles and pork pie hats.
But nevertheless Putin dug through his closet, stuck in his monocle and decided that you actually can invade other countries even though its 2014.
Lieutenant John Kerry, still baffled by the concept of one country invading another, also called it an incredible act of aggression and a stunning, willful choice by President Putin.
Russia is in violation of its international obligations, he bleated. Despite presenting a ceremonial potato to the Russian Foreign Minister, Kerry didnt seem to understand that Russia cares about its international obligations almost as much as his boss cares about the United States Constitution.
This strange claim that invading other countries went out of style in the 19th century is belied by two world wars, countless smaller conflicts, including the Korean War and the Gulf War, and a few wars in the 21st century, but those facts dont penetrate the progressive worldview.
At the debates, Obama had mocked Romneys criticism of his drastic military cuts by accusing him of living in a 19th century horses and bayonets world and sneered at Romneys statement that Russia was our leading geopolitical foe by asserting, You dont call Russia our No. 1 enemy unless youre still stuck in a Cold War mind warp.
When Sarah Palin predicted back in 2008 that the invasion of Georgia would lead to the invasion of Ukraine, Saturday Night Live brought in Tina Fey to put on a little skit about seeing Russia from her house and everyone had a good laugh at the bumpkin who didnt realize that the Cold War was over.
Last summer, Obama told Jay Leno, There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality. What I continually say to them and to President Putin, Thats the past. Weve got to think about the future.
Leno is gone and Putin is in the Ukraine and Obama is baffled to realize that when your enemies are stuck in the Cold War mentality, you either get your Cold War mind warp on or give up and go home.
Putin is thinking about the future. Its Obama and Kerry who are clinging to discredited ideas about international law and diplomacy. These ideas are much more 19th century than anything Putin did.
The progressive spin is that Putins invasion, as the Center for American Progress put it, is an act of weakness, not strength an act, as Kerry aptly characterized it, anachronistic in both moral and strategic terms fundamentally mismatched to 21st century realities.
In the upside down world of progressive soft power, invading another country is an act of weakness while being unable to do anything about it is an act of strength. Weakness is the new strength and strength is the new weakness.
Obamas impotence makes him a world leader, while Putins potency makes him a 19th century relic.
The more Putin does, the more he shows that hes another Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney, a déclassé bumpkin unfit for the modern 21st century realities of discussing foreign policy on Jay Leno and cracking wise about horses and bayonets.
True strength means recognizing your own weakness and not doing anything about it except making snarky remarks about how backward those rough 19th century barbarians with their old-fashioned invasions are.
In a world of free trade and highly globalized markets, territorial conquest simply isnt a good way to make your country stronger, the Center for American Progress insists.
But what if it is?
What if we havent entered some land after time where armies dont matter and everything works because Tom Friedman wrote a book about the flattening earth?
What if all those old strategies that made todays powers what they are, still work? What if steel and lead, the old verities of the world of horses and bayonets that Obama cheerfully dismissed while cutting the military to the bone, still make all the difference in the world?
He has the G8 summit in Sochi coming up, no one really saw this kind of thing coming, a Senate aide protested. In the world of Senate aides, G8 summits matter more than territory. That attitude reflects more on the unreal world of modern politics than on what it actually takes to be a great power.
Meetings, committees and conferences, international organizations, multilateral initiatives and all the other dross with which the great powers occupy themselves are nothing more than the elite rituals of an exclusive club whose members have forgotten that it was their wealth and armies that made them powers, not their committee meetings.
The progressive delusion of a modern world with no room for armies and invasions falls apart the moment that a barbarian rides in on a horse brandishing a rifle with a bayonet and shows that it can be done despite all the free trade agreements and G8 summits in the world.
Obama and Kerry find themselves, like time travelers thrown back in time to the 19th century or the 1950s, stuck in a world that plays by Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Vladimir Putin rules, where no one knows that invading other countries is passé and that power is achieved at summits and not at the point of a gun.
Like the nerds at the back of the cafeteria they pretend that the jocks who invade other countries will flunk out and have to work in a Moscow shoe store and eventually everyone will recognize that real power is being able to denounce the uncivilized ruffians as backward cretins in the school paper.
And if that doesnt happen, due to the nature of power in the modern world, they wont be able to do anything about it anyway.
I am sorry but the hypocrisy is stunning.
And makes me want to laugh.
Bush vs Obama: The contrast between cowboy and bordello diplomacy.
Vladimir Putin knows the only way to project national power and defend your interests is through force.
The West thinks Putin cares a great deal about hosting summits and touring the Western rubber chicken circuit. They think if they withdraw Russia’s VIP invite, Putin will cry uncle.
He’s made of far sterner stuff than them and he’s betting after all their howls of outrage - they won’t punish Russia too severely because they will need to do business with it again in the future.
And he’s genuinely mystified at the aghast in the West over an operation in which no one has been killed. Its kind of surreal to hear the West declaim how Russia should not have a voice in what goes on in its neighbor. Moscow is sending the West the message it will do whatever it needs to do to secure its interests.
The Russian Bear is back on the world stage again.
I am no fan of Putin but a better way of saying would be “Obama slithered out of the slimy depths of the stinky sewer into Putins world in the darkest part of the night”.
Really solid article. Soft power has proven itself to be just that. Soft.
It’s a quaint notion to think that war is a passe thing, and the belief that global markets and world cooperation make such activities counterproductive (and thus, something no nation would rationally pursue) is a persuasive one. But history has shown us again and again that it is a fool’s errand to think that war will ever be completely eradicated.
Remarkable. To conclude Obama's success here in this country against a bunch of spineless elitist appeasement Republicans is 'better understanding' that translates to acumen in the foreign arena is mind boggling.
Putin, almost any other leader of a moderately powerful nation, sees Obama for what he really is. They view him as an affirmative action buffoon who somehow advanced through liberal idiocy and white guilt. Obama's very actions regarding making up new rules to his signature PPACA [aka ObamaCare]as he meets any new obstacle shows that he is woefully ill equipped for real strategic diplomacy and interaction.
IOW, draw a red line, draw another, and another. Sooner or later we'll realize that red line isn't real anywhere except in America's financial balance sheet.
Mano y mano marxist y marxist.
Sounds to me like another fancy excuse for the same old thing,Bullies being bullies and cowards being cowards,Domestically Obama is a bully and the Republican leadership are cowards,internationally Obama is a coward,he works in a world of intimidation at home but when faced with someone with real bullets and balls he doesn’t know his ass from his elbows,feckless republicans are all he can handle
The left is using 1984 as its template, and that works in some areas. Call perversion “equality” and they win on gay “marriage”. Call mandatory insurance with their cronies “health care” and they win on ObamaCare, at least in terms of requiring participation.
Call the right of the people to keep and bear arms “gun violence” and they expect to win on our ability to defend ourselves. Call war “obsolete” and they expect to win on international relations. Apparently it will take leftists a while to learn the limits of Newspeak’s power.
” Soft power has proven itself to be just that. Soft.”
In Barry’s world, soft would be called flaccid.
Thanks for the post, very good perspective.
“In the upside down world of progressive soft power, invading another country is an act of weakness while being unable to do anything about it is an act of strength. Weakness is the new strength and strength is the new weakness.’
upside down world, bass ackwards day
In response to the title: Obama is out of his depth, over his head, out of his league, not up to the task. In other words, this is above his pay grade.
Obama Isnt Disengaged From the World: He just has a better understanding of how power works in the modern world.
The delusion, arrogance or just plain stupidity here is breathtaking.
You mean Boy’s Town, not bordello.
That's not what I see.
On one side, I see a Eurasian strong man who is as deadly as he is smart, with a large military and intercontinental nuclear weapons. He knows how to effectively use these tools to attain his goals.
On the other side, I see a sock puppet made and controlled by 1960's radical leftist academicians with lots of theory and no practical experience in anything. While the latter also has a relatively large military and intercontinental nuclear weapons, he has no idea how to effectively use either.
It is a mistake to think Putin is driven by Marxist doctrine. He is more of a mafia boss. Obama, on the other hand, is an over-grown college sophomore who still believes the nonsense his tenured poli-sci professor told him.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.