March 15, 2014
In purely cynical geopolitical terms, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has completely outfoxed President Obama and the whole foreign policy apparatus of the West. The United States and our overfatted intelligence apparatus were caught with their pants down. The Europeans were just as badly suckered. Our National Security Agency may be able to track every email and phone call in the world, but it can’t grasp the plainly stated intentions of our obvious great power opponent, imperialistic Russia, which is now trying to reverse the breakdown of the Soviet Empire in the Cold War.
Putin has played a consistently brilliant chess game, snatching the Crimea — and soon, parts of the Ukraine — long before the West had any inkling. Even as Obama was shafting our closest allies in the Middle East, Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, Putin stood by Syria and Iran, his allies of convenience in that part of the world. With every East-West confrontation Obama has backed down. Now, with the collapse of Crimea without a shot being fired, Putin has finally revealed his plan.
Putin and his fellow KGB alums who now run Russia are long-distance chess players. Starting from a position of utter weakness with the breakdown of the Soviet Union and its colonies twenty years ago, they have systematically schemed to take power in Moscow, to centralize great chunks of the old Soviet Union, and to reorganize its broken economy on syndicalist lines — a centralized crony capitalism. Russia is still far from its peak power level from Soviet times, but its low-cost reconquest of the Crimea, parts of Georgia, and soon, major parts of the Ukraine count as an unqualified success.
The question is whether renewed Russian encroachment on Europe can ever be stopped. Sixty years ago, at the end of World War II, much of Europe lay in ruins, and the United States stepped in with a credible nuclear guarantee against Stalin and his successors. The Soviets proved to be a greedy type of imperialism, most significantly turning China into an ideological clone threatening all of Asia. Today, Putin and China are once more considering the advantages of a strategic alliance. Just as Russia snatched parts of Georgia and the Crimea, China has laid claim to vast undersea territories hotly disputed by Japan and the Philippines. China is now the biggest imperial exploiter of African resources. Obama has simply ignored a new Sino-Soviet expansionism, the way he always does.
The United States has betrayed its allies in the Middle East, so that both Iran and the Sunni powers of Saudi Arabia and Egypt are turning to Putin’s Russia for protection — against each other. That is a rational act, because the West has lost the will to guarantee the safety of our closest Arab allies against Iranian nuclear weapons, which are now a sure thing. Russia and China built the first Iranian nuclear reactor, only fifty miles across the Gulf from Saudi Arabia. Russia and China want to control Middle Eastern oil and gas supplies. As for Israel, since Putin is now the only credible big power able to stop Iranian nuclear blackmail, it has no choice but to forge closer ties to Russia. Putin has visited Jerusalem — where he prayed at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall — and had discussions with Israel’s cabinet. Putin’s mother was a devout Russian Orthodox believer, while his father was an atheist Communist. Putin regularly attends church services in Moscow, and is one of the few outspoken defenders of traditional Western values — which somehow goes along with his thuggery in politics.
John Kerry is now traveling the Middle East with the aim of gerrymandering Jerusalem, the way the Democrats gerrymander majority black districts in Georgia. Both Obama and Kerry are geopolitical airheads, easily outmaneuvered by the likes of Putin and Iran’s mullah Rouhani. If Israel joins a Russian-led OPEC to control oil and gas prices from its newly discovered shale deposits under the Eastern Mediterranean, Putin might forge an oil alliance allowing Russia itself to keep its vital oil and gas exports priced high. With fracking bursting out all over the world, the Arab-Iranian stranglehold over oil supplies will fade quickly in the next decade. A giant oil-producing alliance could sustain the price of oil, just as the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been doing since 1973.
Europe and America are run by useful idiots today — none of them ever expected Russia to snatch the Crimea. These are the Mensheviks of Russian history, a type that Putin understands very well. Putin is not a Communist, but a syndicalist, combining relatively free markets with crony capitalism. He is much less of an ideological threat to the West, but he will exact his pound of flesh from flabby and cowardly nations in the West whenever he can. On the positive side of the ledger, Putin is ruthless with Muslim rebels and aggressors, showing far more spine and realism than today’s West can muster up.
So we have a new type of Russian ruler facing us. He is cunning and devious (but then so is Obama), but Putin believes in great power politics, which John Kerry recently deplored as so “19th century.” That seems to be Kerry’s fashion statement. In fact, great power politics has never disappeared, especially in the energy-hungry developing world. Power politics is never out of fashion.
Call it the metrosexual powers — America and Europe in their decadence — against the new power-hungry economic and military powerhouses of Russia and China. Metrosexuals have no capacity to defend themselves, the way the U.S. defended the West against Soviet and Chinese Communism for some 70 years. Metrosexual powers can’t even bring themselves to say the words “Muslim terrorism”. The West harbors the seeds of its own destruction, subversive leftists and Islamophiles blind to the dangers of 7th century desert raiders’ theology.
Putin isn’t blind to jihad, and neither are the Chinese. Their history has been forged by a thousand years of Muslim invasions from Central Asia.
Under Obama the United States is voluntarily retreating from a dangerous world. Everywhere we retreat, some hungry and ferocious power will fill the vacuum.
The great question today is whether the West can ever recover from its self-inflicted divisions and weaknesses, which are easily exploited by more serious powers. We have the human and physical resources. We have simply lost the will to defend ourselves. It may take a new generation to find an answer.