Thursday, March 6, 2014

Frivolity, matched only by viciousness

Your Volgi has an outstanding post on how to contain the Crimean crisis, and is filled with winning strategies like this:
First, make life unpleasant for Putin’s silovik and oligarchal cronies through an expanded Magnitsky Act. Encourage our allies in Europe where significant Russian assets are held to pass similar laws. Restrict their travel. Make their personal finances difficult. Consider occasionally revoking the visas and university admissions of their children.
Second, attack Russia’s lifeblood—petroleum profits. Massively expand the export of U.S. natural gas to our European allies. Stop goofing around with Keystone XL and other oil-and-gas exploration and transport licenses. Encourage our Arab allies (if we have any left) to open the taps. Impoverish the Russian state—and its corporatist cronies—to defang their military and their ability to buy political power.
The entire post is filled with this sort of excellent analysis.  The problem, sadly, is that his post is aimed at, well, grown ups.  The people handling this Republic's foreign policy are not.  What they are, well, that's described in this post's title.  The State Department reflects the preferred future state as envisioned by Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and the Progressives inhabiting the Faculty Lounge.  That vision is frivolous, in that it has no understanding that actual work of production has to occur to keep society running (so long, Keystone XL); instead, a well placed Op Ed or a peer reviewed paper on some factor of Gender Studies receives pride of place.  As I said, frivolous.

That is matched by a rather astonishing viciousness - the late Christopher Hitchens described this sort of person:
We're in power because we like it.  We're in power because we enjoy punishing people.  We're in power because we enjoy owning people.  We enjoy telling them what they can do.
This is actually the bigger problem, because the strength we found to stare down the Russian Bear back in the Cold War was the strength that came from people who did things, rather than people who talked about things.  The current Administration seeks to leash those who would do things.  They are like a medieval doctor bleeding a sick patient, only more cynical - a weakened polity is easier to dominate and control.

And so alas, the Volgi's excellent essay would be good counsel for previous Administrations, or even a Romney one.  The chances that the current crowd will take any of this advice is nil.

Meanwhile, Iran watches the carve up of a Ukraine which gave up its nuclear weapons, and a Europe unwilling to engage in economic sanctions.  It is doubtful that this will spur them to give up their own nuclear program.  Our foreign policy is frivolous, but since it's the Tea Party and not Iran who are the enemies of the Administration, all is well Citizen.  Relax.  The circuses are entertaining and the bread is free.


Glen Filthie said...

Israel will take care of Iran long before it goes nuclear.

Goober said...

Until the crisis is over and Russia refuses to leave, I vote for "let's not do a damn thing about it."

I speak to why here.

But the biggest point I make, assuming you don't want to link, is this:

Russia has military bases in crimea, under treaty from the Ukrainian government. There are also a bunch of russians living there.

A good comparison would be Germany for the US - we have a lot of bases there, anda bunch of Americans living there in support of thos bases.

Imagine if you will some sort of political turmoil in Germany - a coup, or revolution - begins, and then, imagine that the US does nothing to protect its interests in Germany - the citizens and the bases. Consider that the treaties that allow the bases int he first place were made with a government that is now deposed,a nd you don't really know what the new folks in charge are going to do...

Do any of you really think that America wouldn't have boots on the ground in germany to lend stability to the region and protect its interests in about two seconds?

I think what Russia is doing right now is perfectly measured and perfectly reasonable,a nd I can't, for the life of me, figure out why everyone is making such a big damn deal about it.

Now, if they stay past the cessation of turmoil, then I'll probably have something more to say, but at least for right now, they are only doing exactly what we would do under the same circumstances...

The Czar of Muscovy said...

Be sure to check out the follow up, in which Volgi is presented with this criticism, plus a half-dozen others.

kx59 said...

Heard on the radio obummer had another hour long conversation with Putin today.
Apparently the only thing of note was that it was an hour long.

Ken said...

Second, attack Russia’s lifeblood—petroleum profits.

Unlikely, even beyond the Faculty Lounge aspects. Friday's WSJ had an article from the Houston meeting of global oil producers. Key point: $100 barrel is the new $20.