16

Impotence as Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy as Bad Joke

Since 2008 I have often suspected that the Obama administration is one huge, unfunny, practical joke.  That is certainly the only rational explanation for the reaction of the Obama administration to the ongoing slicing and dicing of Ukraine by Mother Russia under the leadership of Vladimir “Fearless Leader” Putin.  James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal gives us the details:

 

Here’s a case in point. On March 13, a week or so after that interview was published, Samantha Power, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted about Moscow’s intervention in Crimea: “I missed the day at law school where self-determination was defined as #Russia-determination. Russia must halt its military action.” Two days later, she added: “Russia can veto a Security Council resolution, but it can’t veto the truth.”

It would appear the State Department is seeking to maintain the balance of power through a strategy of mutually assured derision.

One problem with using sarcasm as a weapon is that its proliferation is uncontrollable and widespread. Even the Canadians have it. In a column for the Toronto Sun, Ezra Levant mocked “the ironically named Ambassador Power.”

Another problem, as Levant suggested, is that the Russians appear to be better at mockery than their American counterparts. After a phone conversation between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, Levant wrote, “the Kremlin release[d] this note: ‘Mr. Obama congratulated Mr. Putin on the success of the Paralympic Games and asked Mr. Putin to pass on his greetings to the athletes.’ . . . At least Samantha Power stomped her feet and wrote a mean Twitter tweet. But Obama personally congratulated Putin, during a phone call about a war?”

Wait, it gets worse. Some of Foggy Bottom’s tweeters are deadly earnest, making them totally defenseless against post-Soviet sarcasm. On March 26 Jen Psaki, State’s top spokesman, tweeted this: “To echo @BarackObama today-proud to stand #UnitedForUkraine World should stand together with one voice.” In an accompanying photo, a smiling Psaki gave a left-handed thumbs-up while holding up in her right hand a sign with the #UnitedForUkraine hashtag and her Twitter handle, @statedeptspox.

Yesterday, National Review Online’s Patrick Brennan reports, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official Twitter account started including the hashtag in its tweets on the subject. Example: “[Foreign Minister Sergey] #Lavrov: Our US counterparts must compel the acting officials in Kiev to bear responsibility for the current situation #UnitedForUkraine.”

Barack Obama’s political operation frequently sees its Twitter hashtags “hijacked” by conservative antagonists. Remember #WHYouth? But in domestic politics, mutually assured derision is just good clean fun. Partisan politics thrives on antagonism. If the purpose of the domestic hashtags is to motivate Democratic base voters, conservative mockery is a help rather than a hindrance.

At Foggy Bottom, however, they seem utterly clueless as to what the Russians are up to. Brennan notes that Macon Phillips, who runs the department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, tweeted in response: “Welcome to the #UnitedForUkraine hashtag @mfa_russia! 2 steps to join in: First watch an intro video [titled ‘Sanctions: How Did We Get Here?’], then RT!” Continue Reading

23

Rand Paul: Frontrunner

After winning two CPAC polls and a spat with Ted Cruz in recent days, it is arguable that Rand Paul is the current GOP front-runner for the 2016 presidential election. Of course it is absurdly early to really make the call, but many of us have been expecting this trajectory since Paul was elected to the Senate in 2010. Some of us, myself included, have welcomed it.

On the non-negotiable issues for Catholics who even bother to vote in accordance with the natural moral law, Rand Paul is solid. He is 100% pro-life, supports the 10th amendment right of states to determine their own marriage laws, and has declared school choice “the civil rights issue of our day.” (Remember, the right of parents to educate their children as they see fit is a non-negotiable.)

On economics, he has proposed the establishment of free-enterprise zones for cities such as Detroit that have been devastated by decades of bureaucratic mismanagement, union thuggery and bloated government. The “social justice” crowd will never accept human freedom as a means by which the common good can be served, but the rest of us are under no obligation to ignore empirical reality. It is the creation of wealth that lifts masses of people out of poverty, and it is the unleashing of creative human potential from the pretensions of would-be social engineers and demagogues that allows the most wealth to be created and shared.

My only problem with Rand Paul is foreign policy. I imagine that some of my respected co-bloggers also have this problem, though for a much different reason than myself; they may see him as too much like his father, while I am disappointed that he is not overtly enough like him. Yes, I am a Ron Paul non-interventionist (I can’t stop you from calling me an “isolationist” in spite of my preference for free trade, the free flow of information and cultural exchange, but you should know that I’ll think you a moron if you do).

I was proud of Paul, and for the first time, much of the GOP, when it rejected Obama’s ambition to attack the Syrian government and send aid to Al-Qaeda (to switch our enemy from Eastasia to Eurasia). Since the Ukrainan crisis, Paul has been doing his best to straddle the fence and appease the interventionist hardliners as well as the loyal support base his father built up and which he needs to win his campaign for him. I am encouraged, however, that in spite of the obligatory denunciations of Putin that all US  politicians must offer, Paul has spoken of the dire need to protect the world’s persecuted Christians. As Putin has also often spoken of this need, perhaps this could form the basis of peace and cooperation between our nations. Nothing in my view is more dangerous, tragic, stupid and unnecessary than the antagonism currently brewing between the West and Russia over Ukraine – a situation that was deliberately inflamed by Western support and encouragement for the Ukrainian opposition.  Rand Paul will only have my support if he can prove himself to be above this irrational nonsense.

21

Mother Russia on the March

Fearless Leader

 

Well, Fearless Leader has won the referendum in Crimea with 95% of the vote, so back to the USSR Russia Crimea goes.  One can determine the trustworthiness of that vote by recalling that 36% of the population of Crimea is ethnic Ukranian or Crimean Tatar, neither group having much love for the Rodina.

If Putin were going to stop with Crimea that would not disturb me much.  Sevastopol has always been the main naval base of the Russian Black Sea fleet.  With 58% of the population of the Crimea being ethnic Russian, the Russians clearly made a major mistake in allowing it to become part of the Ukraine and Russia was never going to allow a hostile Ukraine to keep it.

The problem is that Putin is unlikely to stop there.  In Obama he realizes he is confronting the weakest, and most feckless, President the United States has had since James Buchanan.  He views this as an opportune time for him to recreate the old Soviet Union as much as he can.  Next up is likely to be Eastern Ukraine.  Continue Reading

10

And Down Goes Lenin!

Lenin statues are being toppled all over the Ukraine.  As Iowahawk tweeted, if you are wondering who the good guys are in the Ukraine popular uprising, they are the ones toppling the Lenin statutes.

Of course the question is whether Putin now will intervene to support his deposed puppet:

Putin put his money on Yanukovich. He awarded him a $15 billion loan (a third of which has already been transferred to the Ukrainian treasury) to prop the failing economy and allow him to pull back from signing an agreement with the European Union last year. He gave him diplomatic backing and directed the Russian media to describe the protestors in Kiev as “terrorists” and “Nazis.”

But the Ukraine president wasn’t enough of a Putin. He wasted time negotiating with the opposition and the EU’s foreign ministers; he failed in threatening the oligarchs not to abandon him. He lost control of army and police units, who refused orders to violently suppress the protests. Worst of all, he allowed them to run riot through the center of Kiev and take dozens of police hostage.

Putin wasn’t surprised. He had already prepared a fallback plan, and now is presenting Ukrainians with a stark choice: Accept their status of citizen-subjects of a vassal state, or see entire regions of their country break away. Continue Reading