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Monday, April 28, 2014

David Brooks, "Saving the System": Or Has Humpty Dumpty Already Had His Great Fall?

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Four-score Men and Four-score more,
Could not make Humpty Dumpty where he was before.


- From Samuel Arnold's "Juvenile Amusements," 1797


Yes, American foreign policy is coming undone.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Saving the System" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/opinion/when-wolves-attack.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), David Brooks tells us that the US and the world order which it supports, guided by "liberal pluralism," are facing "death by a thousand cuts." Brooks writes:

"[O]ver these centuries, civilized leaders have banded together to restrain these vices. As far back as the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, dominant powers tried to establish procedures and norms to secure national borders and protect diversity. Hegemons like the Nazis or the Communists tried to challenge this system, but the other powers fought back.

Today that system is under assault not by a single empire but by a hundred big and little foes. As Walter Russell Mead argues in a superb article in Foreign Affairs, geopolitics is back with a vengeance. Whether it’s Russia seizing Crimea or China asserting itself, old-fashioned power plays are back in vogue. Meanwhile, pre-modern movements and people try to eliminate ethnic and religious diversity in Egypt, Ukraine and beyond.

China, Russia and Iran have different values, but all oppose this system of liberal pluralism. The U.S. faces a death by a thousand cuts dilemma. No individual problem is worth devoting giant resources to. It’s not worth it to spend huge amounts of treasure to establish stability in Syria or defend a Western-oriented Ukraine. But, collectively, all the little problems can undermine the modern system. No individual ailment is worth the expense of treating it, but, collectively, they can kill you."

Brooks's conclusion:

"The liberal pluralistic system is not a spontaneous natural thing. Preserving that hard-earned ecosystem requires an ever-advancing fabric of alliances, clear lines about what behavior is unacceptably system-disrupting, and the credible threat of political, financial and hard power enforcement."

"Clear lines"? Such as the "red line" proffered by President Obama in response to Assad's use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians?

"Credible threats?" Such as those imposed by Obama in response to Putin's aggression in the Ukraine? In an editiorial entitled "Obama’s half-measures give Vladi­mir Putin little to fear" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obamas-half-measures-give-vladimir-putin-little-to-fear/2014/04/28/b663885c-cee8-11e3-937f-d3026234b51c_story.html?hpid=z3), The Washington Post declares:

"VLADIMIR PUTIN’S assault on Ukraine has been relentless and increasingly reckless: Forces working with Russian personnel in eastern Ukraine are torturing and murdering opponents and holding international observers hostage. In contrast, President Obama’s response has been slow and excruciatingly measured. New U.S. sanctions announced Monday fall well short of the steps that senior officials threatened when the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine began three weeks ago."

Well, what did WaPo honestly expect from the first invertebrate to occupy the Oval Office?

Can it get worse? Absolutely. As we have now been informed by The Daily Beast (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/27/exclusive-kerry-warns-israel-could-become-an-apartheid-state.html), John Kerry, the narcissistic American secretary of state in search of a Nobel Peace Prize, told a "closed-door meeting" of "senior officials and experts from the U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and Japan" on Friday:

"Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state."


Israel, a steadfast American ally, on its way to becoming apartheid? That should play well with anti-Semites across the globe, while rendering Kerry useless in any effort to facilitate peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

You will of course recall that Kerry, in a past faux pas, referred to Syrian mass murderer Assad as his "dear friend."

Will there be anything left to put together again by the time Obama and friends finish their handiwork in 2016? Probably not.


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