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Monday, March 3, 2014

David Brooks, "Putin Can’t Stop": Obama and the Father Flanagan School of Diplomacy

Do you remember when Obama first became president? Do you remember how, in early 2009, he sent new year's greetings to Iran, which stones to death women, hangs homosexuals, and oppresses Baha'is, Christians, Sunnis and Kurds? More significantly, do you remember Obama's "reset" of US relations with Russia and his 2012 open mic promise to Putin of "flexibility" during his second term? Do you remember how as recently as last week, Obama was still referring to Russia as a "partner" (see:

Much akin to Father Flanagan, who once said that there is "no such thing as a bad boy," Obama thought that there is no such thing as a bad country. Obama strode into the Oval Office believing that there are only countries that have been misunderstood or mistreated by the US, and he was going to right these historic wrongs with an outreach program that would bring them all back into the fold, even if it meant offending traditional American allies.

Well, it is no wonder that The Washington Post yesterday acknowledged in the first sentence of an editorial entitled "President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy" (

"FOR FIVE YEARS, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality."

Indeed, the emperor has no clothes.

In a clever New York Times op-ed entitled "Putin Can’t Stop" (, David Brooks examines the motivation underlying Putin's aggressive behavior involving the Ukraine. Brooks concludes:

"The danger is that Russia is now involved in a dispute in Ukraine that touches and activates the very core of this touchy messianism. The tiger of quasi-religious nationalism, which Putin has been riding, may now take control. That would make it very hard for Putin to stop in this conflict where rational calculus would tell him to stop. Up until now, we have not been in a Huntingtonian conflict of civilizations with Russia. But with passions aroused and philosophic zealotry at full boil, it may temporarily appear that we are.

The implication for Western policymakers is that we may not be dealing with a 'normal' regime, which can be manipulated by economic and diplomatic carrots and sticks. Threatening to take away inclusion in the Group of 8 or freeze some assets may become irrelevant because the Russian regime will have moved up to a different level. The Russian nation may be motivated by a deep, creedal ideology that has been wafting through the culture for centuries and has now found an unlikely, cynical and cold-eyed host."

Obama can't threaten to exclude Russia from the G8, because "the Russian regime will have moved up to a different level"? Brooks has this thing for "words," and it's not clear to me to which "different level" he is referring.

On the other hand, what is painfully clear is that Obama's foreign policy is completely unraveling. Exclude Russia from the G-8? What if Putin then decides that he longer wants to be a part of the P5+1, thus putting an end to Obama's meaningless negotiations with Iran for the cessation of its nuclear weapons development program? And what if Putin also decides to withdraw his support for the specious agreement to which Obama is a party, pursuant to which Assad is supposed to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles?

Yes, Putin has Obama at his mercy.

An Obama legacy? Obama is well on his way to being remembered as the naif president who crippled America's military and reduced US overseas credibility and influence to rubble.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the Democrats realize that there chances of having a single elected Democrat in the 21st century have been eliminated.
    Somehow, I can't imagine Polish Americans for example to vote Democratically now - after Obama's missiles decision, his love fest with Putin/Medvedev and recent developments. The notorious Brezhnev/Honecker kiss has been in circulation since well the ... kiss.