The Democrats are vulnerable again on handling the world
Note: WSJ is getting funky with their headlines, don’t you think? Totally…
Daniel Henninger writes: Air-dropping himself into Kiev Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Russian seizure of Crimea is “not 21st-century, G-8, major-nation behavior.” He said Mr. Putin should allow “international observers” to enter Crimea.
Dobbs: “If you’re the police, where are your badges?”
Chief bandido: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges!”
We may assume Mr. Putin would say the masked Russians patrolling Ukrainian Crimea are “international observers.”
As of this week, it’s official. Vladimir Putin has turned Barack Obama totally into Jimmy Carter.
We may quibble over the timeline. Some might say it began when Mr. Obama whispered to then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev he’d have “more flexibility” after the 2012 election; others that it set in when the U.S. president took Mr. Putin’s offer to let Bashar Assad escape the bombing of his airfields for using WMD against his own people.
A “Russia Today” anchor broke through the Iron Curtain.
This has been making the rounds..in case you haven’t seen it yet, here it is with video. Don’t you wish anchors and reporters from ABC News, CBS News, PBS, NBC News, or CNN would quit, live on the air? Take a stand in protest to the stream of lies and deceptions pouring out of the White House? Don’t hold your breath.
Liz Wahl, who was a Washington, D.C. correspondent for the state-owned television station, quit live on-air Wednesday because she does not agree with the network’s backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region.
“I’m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I’m resigning.”
Just spoke to grandparents who came to US as refugees escaping Soviets during Hungarian revolution. Amazing to hear amid new Cold War fears
— Liz Wahl (@lizwahl) March 5, 2014
The self-described “Filipina-Hungarian-American” said she faces several “ethical and moral challenges” as a reporter for the network. Wahl described herself as the daughter of a veteran who grew up in the United States. Her partner, she said, is a military-base physician “where he sees every day first hand accounts of the ultimate prices people pay for this country.”
“And that is why personally, I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin,” she said as she went off-script on live TV. “I’m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I’m resigning.”
Fox News’ Shepard Smith traveled to Crimea and filed a report today on exactly what life is like for people there right now. And the big takeaway is that while things “seem better” and relatively normal, Russia still has a hold on “every strategic position there” and so continues to have the upper hand.
He showed how at the airport gate in Crimea, there is scotch tape holding up a Russian flag. Smith said, “The changes are subtle. They are not, in any way, oppressive, but they’re here.” One Crimean woman said she was scared when she saw Russian troops, telling Fox “I thought that it was the beginning of maybe war.”
Don’t be fooled by Putin’s façade; the pillars of Russian power are steadily declining.
Zachary Keck writes: Everywhere one looks today, signs of a resurgent Russia are omnipresent. Although Vladimir Putin has undoubtedly worked hard to craft this image, it is a mirage. Russia is doomed over the long-term, and its short-term maneuvers aren’t enough to compensate for this fact.
Traditionally, Russian power has rested on four pillars: population, energy, weaponry and geography. Three of these are diminishing.
The backbone of modern Russian power has been its massive population. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than in WWII. Russia no doubt played a leading role in orchestrating Hitler’s demise, starting with its legendary stands in Leningrad and Stalingrad. However, Stalin sapped the military might of Nazi Germany less because of the strategic or tactical genius he possessed, and almost entirely through his willingness to expend the lives of his citizenry.
According to some estimates, the Soviet Union lost somewhere between 22 and 28 million people during WWII. To put this in perspective, the United States and Great Britain each lost less than half a million people and even Germany only lost between 7 and 9 million lives during the war. Nonetheless, for nearly half a century after the war the Soviet Union could credibly threaten the much richer West solely because of the sheer number of men it could put under arms.
David Francis writes: As the eyes of the world and the media turn to Ukraine, Syrian President Bashar al Assad has quietly been making momentous gains in his three-year civil war with rebels that all but assure he will leave office on his own terms.
“He is still in power, and with negotiations stalled, it’s unlikely he’ll be removed. In short, he’s won.”
Assad’s army has taken Yabroud, the last major town held by Sunni Muslim rebels, located near the Lebanese border. On Tuesday, with support from Hezbollah fighters and local paramilitary groups, Assad’s forces bombarded the town until the rebels retreated.
Taking Yabroud is an important victory for Assad, who has been fighting for months to control the surrounding region.. He has now effectively cut off rebel supply lines from Lebanon.
At an impromptu press conference today, President Obama spoke about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The way that some of this has been reported, suggestions somehow that the Russian actions have been clever strategically…I actually think that this has not been a sign of strength.”
The Hammer couldn’t disagree more.
“Let’s review. Putin has taken over the Crimean peninsula. . . . He regains it without a shot fired in anger, without any consequences yet. I don’t think there are going to be any that are really going to hurt him. The Europeans are resisting any real sanctions. . . . He’s destabilized a regime in Ukraine that is intensely anti-Russian. He’s sitting in a seat where everybody has to come to him, holding a lot of cards, and it’s not clever?”
“When Obama says, and Kerry also did in Kiev, that this is a sign of weakness and not strength…you’ve got to wonder what cosmos our president and secretary of state are living in.”
As the young and entrepreneurial flee, the country struggles to compete and pay for its massive welfare state.
For City Journal, Pascal Bruckner writes: Not long ago, I attended a colloquium of French scientists and philosophers in Corsica, France, called “How to Think About the Future.” With few exceptions, the astrophysicists, economists, physicians, and social theorists on hand offered dark visions of tomorrow. A new financial crisis, water and grain shortages, endless war, a general collapse of ecosystems—we were spared no catastrophic scenario.
A month earlier, as it happened, I had been invited by the environmentalist think tank Breakthrough to San Francisco, where I reflected with a group of thinkers on the Schumpeterian economic idea of “creative destruction” and its application to energy production.
“…dozens of books are published in France affecting the charm of despair. The French don’t like themselves any longer—they’re one of the world’s most depressed populations…”
My experience there was quite different. Three days of vigorous and sometimes tense debates followed among advocates favoring, respectively, nuclear power, shale gas,and renewable energy sources. Defenders of threatened species had their say, too, but no one doubted in the slightest that we had a future, even if its contours remained unclear.
“…Our beloved country, in other words, has been losing not only its dynamic and intelligent young people but also older people with some money. I’m not sure that this social model can work over the long term.”
I recall an observation that Michael Schellenberger, Breakthrough’s president, made in the proceedings: “The United States’ greatest hope at present lies in shale gas and in the 11 million illegal immigrants who will soon become legal, 11 million brains that will stimulate and renew our country.” Such a comment, whatever one’s views on the specific policies that it implied, exhibited a hopefulness completely missing in Corsica—and hard to find in
today’s France, which has outlawed not only the development but even the exploration of possible reserves of natural and shale gas, and which sees every stranger on its soil as a potential enemy. France has become a defeatist nation.
A striking indicator of this attitude is the massive emigration that the country has witnessed over the last decade, with nearly 2 million French citizens choosing to leave their country and take their chances in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the United States, and other locales. The last such collective exodus from France came during the French Revolution, when a large part of the aristocracy left to await (futilely) the king’s return. About a century earlier, almost 2 million Huguenots fled the country, frightened by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had put Protestants on an equal legal footing with Catholics. Today’s migration isn’t politically or religiously motivated, however; it’s economic.
[Be a hero and check out Pascal Bruckner's book "The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism" at Amazon, and other books at Pascal Bruckner's Amazon Author page]
Medea Benjamin of Code Pink announced on twitter last night that she had been jailed by Egyptian police as she was on her way leading a group of activists to “Hamas-lead” Gaza traveling via Cairo. This morning she tweeted that the Egyptian Police had broken her arm.
Code Pink had worked with the Muslim Brotherhood to over throw Egypt’s former President Mubarak. The current government of Egypt has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization after Brotherhood leader Morsi was removed from the presidency. Perhaps that is why Benjamin was detained.
Last night her twitter feed read:
Help. They broke my arm. Egypt police
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) March 4, 2014
(see more of the feed at Breitbart.com) It’s unclear how Benjamin is tweeting with a broken arm, or allowed to tweet at all from her Egyptian jail cell.
“If each one of us does not amass riches only for oneself, but half for the service of others, in this f**k [pause], in this case the providence of God will become visible through this gesture of solidarity,” Francis said to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Italian media reported.
His Holiness meant to use the Italian word for “example,” which is “caso.” Instead, he used the word “cazzo,” which Italians use as a synonym for the four-letter obscenity. The papal slip-up immediately went viral on Italian websites and quickly made its way to YouTube.
But the 77-year-old pontiff kept his cool, and his defenders took to the Internet to say it was a common mistake for native Spanish speakers when they talk in Italian. Others said the literal translation of the word is a synonym for the male organ — but that it is also commonly used as the F-word.
A Vatican spokesman had no comment on the f**k-up.
President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy
The Washington Post Editorial Board writes: For five years, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which “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 displayed this mindset on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, “It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.”That’s a nice thought, and we all know what he means. A country’s standing is no longer measured in throw-weight or battalions. The world is too interconnected to break into blocs. A small country that plugs into cyberspace can deliver more prosperity to its people (think Singapore or Estonia) than a giant with natural resources and standing armies.
Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.
Mr. Obama is not responsible for their misbehavior. But he does, or could, play a leading role in structuring the costs and benefits they must consider before acting. The model for Mr. Putin’s occupation of Crimea was his incursion into Georgia in 2008, when George W. Bush was president. Mr. Putin paid no price for that action; in fact, with parts of Georgia still under Russia’s control, he was permitted to host a Winter Olympics just around the corner. China has bullied the Philippines and unilaterally staked claims to wide swaths of international air space and sea lanes as it continues a rapid and technologically impressive military buildup. Arguably, it has paid a price in the nervousness of its neighbors, who are desperate for the United States to play a balancing role in the region. But none of those neighbors feel confident that the United States can be counted on. Since the Syrian dictator crossed Mr. Obama’s red line with a chemical weapons attack that killed 1,400 civilians, the dictator’s military and diplomatic position has steadily strengthened.
ABC News‘ Jonathan Karl reports: It was a complete rebuff issued with blinding speed: Less than 24 hours after President Obama went on national television on Friday to warn Vladimir Putin that “there will be costs for any military intervention,” Russia’s military seized total control of Crimea.
It’s embarrassing for a world power to see its warnings so cavalierly disregarded — and not just when it comes to Russia and Ukraine. During his second term, President Obama has repeatedly found that the sternest warnings and firmest demands from the United States have been ignored with impunity.
Consider these examples:
CHINA and RUSSIA: Snowden Slips By
RHETORIC: The Administration repeatedly warned China (where Snowden first fled) and Russia that Edward Snowden was a fugitive felon who must be turned over to the United States. On June 24, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry bluntly warned he “would be deeply troubled” if Snowden were permitted to fly from Hong Kong to Russia “and there would be, without any question some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences.” After Snowden boarded the plane in Hong Kong, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney added ominously: “This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.”
REACTION: China ignored U.S. demands and allowed Snowden to travel to Russia. Russia ignored demands to turn Snowden over to U.S. authorities and granted him asylum.
SYRIA: The Vanishing ‘Red Line’
RHETORIC: “We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons,” President Obama said on Aug. 20, 2012.
REACTION: Syria allegedly uses chemical weapons attacks outside Damascus and Aleppo, killing 25 and wounding dozens more.
SYRIA: A ‘Game Changer’ That Didn’t Change The Game
RHETORIC: “I have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a game changer,” President Obama said on Mar. 20, 2013.
REACTION: On August 21, 2013, Syria engages in a significantly larger chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus, killing over a thousand people, including hundreds of children.
If He Believes It, It Must Be So
For the Weekly Standard blog, Elliot Abrams writes: On the eve of the Netanyahu visit to Washington, President Obama gave a lengthy interview to Jeffrey Goldberg that shows a chief executive who has learned next to nothing about the world in his five years in office.
First, kudos to Goldberg: he pressed Obama repeatedly, challenging vague formulations and seeking clarity. Goldberg pushed Obama hard, especially on Iran and Syria.
Obama isn’t good off the cuff, especially when challenged; he is far better with a prepared speech. And what emerged is an awful portrait of the president and his conception of the world.
Take Syria. Here’s what Obama said:
“I think those who believe that two years ago, or three years ago, there was some swift resolution to this thing had we acted more forcefully, fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the conflict in Syria and the conditions on the ground there. … Over the last two years I have pushed our teams to find out what are the best options in a bad situation. … But I’ve looked at a whole lot of game plans, a whole lot of war plans, a whole bunch of scenarios, and nobody has been able to persuade me that us taking large-scale military action even absent boots on the ground, would actually solve the problem. And those who make that claim do so without a lot of very specific information.”
Who are these people who have inadequate information, misunderstand the conflict in Syria, and think there is much more the United States could have done? They include both of Obama’s secretaries of state, Clinton and Kerry, his former defense secretary Leon Panetta, and his former CIA director David Petraeus—all of whom wanted much more U.S. support for the Syrian rebels. And perhaps more to the point, take the case of Fred Hof.
A year ago, there was a rising fear that the US and Russia were on the verge of a new Cold War. Today the relationship seems to have gone 180. The US and Russia are now on the verge of signing a new nuclear disarmament agreement and look increasingly in sync on Iran. Yesterday, Obama met directly with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore where both leaders said negotiations on a new START agreement were close to completion. Medvedev also expressed his displeasure with Iran, giving another indication that Russia may back Obama should the Iranians reject the nuclear deal on the table. Following the meeting and Medvedev pronouncements, Obama concluded that “the reset button has worked.”