Tag Archives: Putin

The depth of the West’s impotency

g7There were important international meetings this week in the Western world that resulted in some speeches by various leaders of the West, a number of press conferences, and even a non-binding U.N. resolution denouncing Russia’s annexation of Crimea. We heard a lot of talk about “isolating” Russia, including throwing them out of that exclusive club formerly known as the G-8, as well as a series of announcements applying travel restrictions and financial sanctions on maybe 30 to 40 insider Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians.

But the uncontestable bottomline is that Crimea is now a part of Russia and the West has proven itself to be impotent to do anything more than talk and issue vague threats about what will happen if Putin continues to be a bad boy. obama hague

For the new interim government in Kyiv, the depths of their defeat in Crimea has now come into sharp focus. Igor Tenyukh, Ukraine’s interim defense minister, resigned this week, taking the blame for this catastrophe. He learned the hard way that Western talk was no match to Russian resolve and organization. Of course the Ukrainian defense minister was also shamed by the fact that about three-quarters of his Ukrainian military force stationed in Crimea decided to switch sides and swear allegiance to their Russian rivals!

All this seems to lend credence to the feeling by many observers that the new anti-Russian Kyiv government is utterly incompetent if not delusional.

For example, when announcing her intention to run for the Ukraine presidency in the upcoming May elections, Yulia Tymoshenko—the former prime minister of Ukraine who had previously lost the 2010 presidential elections to Viktor Yanukovych who was then forced out of office about a month ago by the street rioting in Kyiv — this same Yulia promises the voters of Ukraine that she Yuliacan work miracles to revive Ukraine’s disorganized, corrupt government, and turn around the bankrupt national economy, while at the same time re-arm its military with the latest weapons in order to force the “return” of Crimea from Mother Russia.

Good luck with all that, Yulia! From the results of her first term in office I would be somewhat skeptical about her ability to make good on her promises.

The United States and European Union are going to have to bail out the Ukrainians to the tune of tens of billions of dollars/euros— repeatedly. They have announced that they going to do this. But why?

Since neither the United States nor the European Union were willing to risk going to war with the Russians over Crimea, I doubt they would be able to bring themselves to put it all on the line for any other piece of the Ukraine should the Russians decide to carve off another chunk when provided with an appropriate excuse by the Kyiv government itself!

Why keep the Ukrainian government afloat with its polarizing, unrealistic leaders like Yulia? Just so that they can foment another crisis with the Russians sometime in the near future, and so set up the Western powers for a repeat demonstration to the world of their complete political impotency?

Since the Second World War the world has looked to the president and government of the Unitedpax States to exercise effective leadership in international affairs. And for 70 years or so now the developed world has mostly enjoyed a Pax Americana of peace and prosperity. But the age of American hegemony is obviously weakening.

Three times now Vladimir Putin has put America to the test and found it wanting: by slapping down the nation of Georgia in 2008, by protecting the Bashar Assad regime in Syria from Western bombing in 2013, and now by annexing Crimea. Russia acted on its interests contrary to the United States and nothing of any significance happened as a result. The U.S.A.’s decline is on open display.

The consequences of this American political impotency are just starting. Consider this:

obama policeman“Last week [Israeli Defense Minister] Ya’alon spoke at a forum at Tel Aviv University that was closed to the media. There he bemoaned the Obama administration’s abandonment of the US’s traditional role as the world’s policeman and considered its significance for Israel. With regard to Iran’s nuclear program, Ya’alon said that the time had come for Israel to recognize that the US has not met its expectations and taken the lead to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. As a consequence, “We [Israelis] have to look out for ourselves,” (Caroline Glick, “Why bring down Ya’alon,” Jerusalem Post, Mar. 24, 2014).

The Georgian (the nation) newspaper, Rezonansi, ran this front-page headline “Ridiculous sanctions—the West’s punishment is greeted with ironic amusement in Moscow.”

The Czech Republic daily newspaper, Lidove Noviny, remarked in despair and frustration, “Putin’s signing of the annexation treaty is a done deal. This deal reflects the West’s helplessness—all it could manage in response are declarations and sanctions. These are steps which simply cannot stop the Russian president.”

Petras Vaitiekunas, the Lithuanian ambassador to Ukraine, was quoted by the business newspaper, Verslo Zinios, in saying that the day the Crimea voted to join Russia was “the day when the world order collapsed, which for 69 years has guaranteed the peace of Europe.”

Wild exaggerations? How long will it be before the next test comes? How long will OUR North American peace and prosperity zone last if this display of U.S. impotence continues?

If you’re wondering why America and the West have become politically impotent, read my previously posted blog. Obama and America need to clean up their own act before they are in any position to tell off Putin and Russia with even a remote chance of success.

The Sunset of the American Empire

1-Obama-vs-PutinWhen it comes to the quick and successful Russian occupation of the Crimean peninsula, U.S. President Barak Obama insists that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “on the wrong side of history.”

Again, in comments about the Crimean takeover, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, “The world cannot just allow this to happen.” But neither Obama administration nor the other Western democracies are even remotely suggesting they use the military option to meet such aggression with determination and power.

Neither Obama’s America nor the European Union will risk going to war with Russia over the fate of the Crimea or even ALL the eastern Russian-speaking half of the Ukraine. It’s just Putin’s for the taking.

Like the recent crisis in Syria over the use of poison gas to kill Syrian rebels and civilians, it appears that Putin’s Russia is setting the agenda in the arenas of its choosing.

And I have to acknowledge that in such an age as ours with its omnipresent video and social putin bear obamamedia, Putin is remarkably media savvy. He has cleverly stage-managed a Crimean velvet invasion, avoiding nasty scenes on the nightly news and Internet of Russian troops causing violence and bloodshed.

Still, whatever the Russian rationale (and they can make an interesting case) the heart of the issue remains clear in international law: invasion of one state by another without a serious existential threat or provocation in order to annex coveted territory is plainly and simply a no-no. If not effectively opposed and reversed what’s happened in Crimea will be a blinking neon sign advertising that its now open season for the world’s aggressors to initiate a new round of changes to the world’s maps.

What’s at stake is not just about defending the right of Ukrainians to decide their own future. What’s hanging in the balance is the whole structure of current international relations and the present status quo. Is the crisis in the Ukraine announcing the sunset of the American Empire? Has America effectively abandoning its role as the world’s policeman?  And, if it will not longer act as the dominant power of the world—how long will it be before the American dollar also loses its role world’s reserve currency? The implications of all this is profound. Is the American era unraveling and coming to an end before our very eyes?

The consequences of what has happened in Crimea should not be viewed in isolation from what has been happening elsewhere on the world stage over the recent past. There are some principles iranian hostage crisisof human affairs that are immutable. High stakes diplomacy is inevitably a test of wills. Every act by a state during a crisis signals either of its strong will and convictions or its lack thereof. Weakness invites more aggression.

The present situation calls for a beefy presidential backbone rather than a turkey wishbone to be sitting in the Oval Office. Many commentators are drawing parallels between Jimmy Carter’s weak presidency and that of the current occupant of the White House. But actually, the situation for America now is much more dire now than it was 35 years ago during the Iranian hostage crisis.

crimea europe mapWithout strong leadership from America, the rest of the Western democracies will prove unwilling to make any move that could harm their own narrow economic interests and/or complicate their domestic politics. Besides, all together, the Western allies just don’t possess the raw military power that the U.S. does.

Although the United States actually has the power to force a reversal of the Crimean takeover, America’s political leadership doesn’t have the strength of will that comes from strong moral convictions to actually use that power to stand up for the underdog Ukrainians.

Of course this isn’t the first time the current U.S. president preferred wet noodles over backbone. This is the same president who last year refused to force the Shi’ite Iranians to stop developing their nuclear weapons program that threatens to destroy and/or intimidate America’s major allies in the Middle East: Jewish Israel and the Sunni Arab petro-states of the Persian Gulf.

So why does the United States lack the backbone to speak softly while credibly threatening to use their great big stick on the world’s bullies? Why indeed!soldier flag

The answer is surprising.

From its founding, America thought of itself as an “exceptional” nation, a shining city on the hill beckoning all of humanity to embrace high moral values. The explicit foundation of this American “exceptionalism” was the nation’s Judeo-Christian morality, which was sustained by a vibrant personal religious zeal that believed that faith must be put into action whatever the cost in time, treasure, and blood. This lively personal piety flowed from the private sphere into the public sphere to enlighten the conduct of the nation’s business. Judeo-Christian morality informed the government in its policies, diplomacy, and even the exercise of power. Americans saw themselves as the best hope to change and improve the world. And they did something about it because they believed they had a mission to do so.

But for two generations now the well-spring of American exceptionalism has been dramatically drying up just like the American Southwest has been drying up in its worst drought in 500 years. In ca droughtfact most leaders of the American public sphere can no longer sincerely proclaim “In God We Trust” without a large dose of brazen hypocrisy. I almost gag when I hear some particular American politicians say, “God bless America.” They are such hypocrites!

Major segments of America’s leadership have completely turned their backs on biblical morality and are actively seeking to undermine and destroy it.

Consequently, the shining city is being transformed—rapidly now—into a 21st Century version of Sodom and Gomorrah with a heavy emphasis on prosperity and almost none on biblical morals. The shining city on the hill is fast becoming a den of iniquity that must resort to buying its lovers attention since it can no longer attract them with the beauty of sincere high moral virtues.

As a direct consequence, the Bible’s God promises that He will “break the pride of your power” (see Leviticus 26:18-19). God is speaking in this scripture of an “exceptional” nation that once publicly claimed Him far and wide as their God. But such a people later turned against Him and became degenerate in the both public and private spheres as defined according to the biblical scriptures. As a consequence, those people were punished and punished some more until they repented of their faithlessness and turned back to their God.

Woe to any nation like the Ukraine that depends on a similar faithless, hypocritical nation to defend it from the covetousness of an audacious enemy. A hypocritical, faithless nation’s pride in its power will always be broken—eventually. The Ukrainian crisis is revealing to the bullies of the world just how weak America’s pride in its power has become.

Leviticus 26:18-19 (ESV) 18 And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 19 and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.

liberty crying

What to Watch for in 2012!

If the single word that typified the zeitgeist of 2011 was uncertainty, then the spirit of 2012 will probably be just more of the same piled higher and deeper. Are we at a turning point, a crossroads in our present social/political order that has prevailed since the end of the Second World War?

There is so much that is at play in the world today. For the last few weeks there have been many commentators who have written predictions about what will actually happen during the next 12 months. Predicting the future, even by the world’s most outstanding analysts, remains a remarkably complex, error-prone task—perhaps akin to trying to solve a “triazzle.”

In a triazzle each piece of the puzzle has three sides that all can be mixed and matched with the other pieces of the game in a number of seemingly logical ways. After being induced by visual clues to pursue one particular hunch, a gamer may initially find that the pieces do seem to easily fit the desired pattern until—while holding the very last piece of the puzzle —the gamer discovers that it’s all wrong! And the seemingly sound, logical assumptions based on what seemed like solid evidentiary clues turned out to be in reality a misleading tease that kept the triazzle gamer from seeing how the pieces to the puzzle really fit together.

What we do know will happen in 2012 is that four of the five most powerful nations of the world—four of the five permanent U.N. Security Council member—will see some type of leadership changes. America and France have elections this year that may not return the incumbants to office. Russia also is holding presidential elections although they are mostly for show. Vladamir Putin will continue to run the nation and is just changing offices after playing a little game of musical chairs, moving back to the Kremlin offices of the presidency from the prime minister’s more humble offices. In China, Xi Jinping is considered the most likely person to take over the presidency from Hu Jintao. And, it is estimated that around 70% of the rest of China’s leadership will also change during the upcoming Chinese Communist Party’s congress this fall.

As for the “Arab Spring,” look for the steady rise to political power of Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt and in other newly “un-dictatored” countries of that region. Watch as the values held dear by the secular Western liberal democracies fail to thrive in the lands where the majority hold that Mohammed is the only sort of prophet that counts.

Regarding the European Union, look for more financial bad news that will put the euro and consequently the various euro-zone governments under increasing pressure. Look for the weakest of the weak European nations to seriously consider jumping the EU ship, or perhaps be pushed over the railing by Germany and the European Central Bank. The stronger euro-zone nations, however, will probably feel more heat to circle the wagons and cede additional financial/political sovereignty to a central E.U. authority, as that will be touted again, by Germany and the ECB, as being the only way to defend themselves from an increasingly bleak financial situation.

Yes, we all know that the developed world’s public and private finances will continue to wallow in a morass of public and private debt. Presently, the value of the U.S. Treasury Bonds and the U.S. dollar have strengthened remarkably in recent months due to massive influxes of global capital seeking a safe haven from the uncertainties posed by the European Union’s tottering euro. The U.S. dollar is still seen for the most part by financiers as the world’s reserve currency.

But the question is for how long? The U.S. dollar at present is only the best of the worst in comparison to the Japanese yen or the E.U.’s euro. There is an on-going move by global central bankers to diversify away from holding too many U.S. dollars in their reserves. They are making major purchases of gold bullion. And the Chinese have been striking deals with their south-east Asian trading partners so that they will no longer use the U.S. dollar as their mutual medium of exchange for business. Instead these Asian tigers are agreeing to facilitate their mutual importing/exporting by directly exchanging their own national currencies, cutting out the previously essential middleman role formerly held by the U.S. dollar.

The United States government has an extremely serious problem of annual budget deficits now running in the trillions of dollars. Watch as this annual operating deficit inexorably adds to an already obscene mountain of American federal government debt that will soon be more than 80% of the entire nation’s annual gross domestic product.

The only possible solutions to this coming U.S. budgetary Armageddon are to heavily depreciate the value of the dollar in order to allow exports to surge and/or to severely cut a wide variety of expenditures, including medicare and social security. But watch in 2012 as America fails to find a charismatic leader with a sound, convincing vision for the nation that can muster enough political will to do what needs to be done before it is too late.

Consequently, you should look for American public opinion to remain about evenly divided. And, thus, the financial and political reforms needed to effectively, and calmly turn around this looming national catastrophe in a timely rational manner, will be stymied.

Look for inflation to increase significantly as the stresses caused by too much debt, too much money printing, and not enough real economic growth continue. The savings and standard of living of millions of Americans will erode dramatically as a vampire inflation sucks the life out of the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar.

Did your grandpa or grandma ever pass on to you any of the old worthless Confederate paper dollars or Confederate bonds that the family got stuck with during the Civil War? Did any of your old folks pass on the stories of what it was like when the money was no good and what the family did to survive when hungry and desperate? Metaphorically speaking, the value of the U.S. dollar is presently propped up more by the Fed’s push up bra, rather than by naturally abundant sound financial fundamentals.

So, watch for the continuing, slow decline of the American Empire in 2012. Unless, of course, an unexpected black swan event occurs. War with Iran and a subsequent oil shock? A horrendous natural disaster that destroys a major American city or a critical agricultural crop or energy production and distribution? If something really bad happens to the U.S.A. then all bets are off about the decline being slow!

But most of all, you should watch out for your own spiritual state in 2012. Most of us have very little influence over what does go on in this world. In geo-politics and macro-economics we are merely spectators. We watch and make our plans accordingly. But in our own personal life we do have a great influence on what we think about, and the type of character, morals, and ethics we choose to live by. Over such things we have power and are accountable for how we exercise it. I’m not responsible for the government’s finances, but I had better take care of my own state of affairs. In 2012, I repeat, we should be very watchful of our own spiritual state. As the Apostle Paul advises us:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 13-15 (NKJV)

Jesus of Nazareth himself advised us to be spiritually alert and ready to serve him in sincerity and truth at such a time when he decides to once again intervene in world affairs to save humanity from the consequences of our own collective stupidity:

Be dressed, ready for service, and have your lamps shining. Be like servants who are waiting for their master to come home from a wedding party. When he comes and knocks, the servants immediately open the door for him. They will be blessed when their master comes home, because he sees that they were watching for him. I tell you the truth, the master will dress himself to serve and tell the servants to sit at the table, and he will serve them. Those servants will be blessed when he comes in and finds them still waiting, even if it is midnight or later.
“Remember this: If the owner of the house knew what time a thief was coming, he would not allow the thief to enter his house. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at a time when you don’t expect him!” Luke 12:35-40 New Century Version


So don’t forget to watch your own spiritual state while keeping an eye on 2012’s many uncertainties.