The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Triumph of the Spineless

Where is Leni Riefenstahl when you need her?

Claudia Rosett has penned probably the closest description of my own frustrations with the collapse of the sheer will of President Bush to project American strength in any way, shape, or form (at least outside of Iraq and Afghanistan)--that I have yet read.

I hate it that this is: the same President who I have supported through two Gubernatorial and two Presidential elections; the same President who arguably has been instrumental in preventing another terror attack on the US 9/11--a feat no one thought would be possible on that day; the same President whose determination alone (and the selection of General Petraeus to lead the surge) was instrumental in turning around a critical strategic War; a President who has accomplished all these things--has now seemingly become so cowed and/or neutralized by his opponents and critics, that he quite simply refuses to assert American power, to make good on multiple ever-shifting"lines in the sand" or to take any other effective actions agains Iran, North Korea, the UN Climate Change Hoax-mongers, or even to protect America's own borders.

That spark, that confidence--it is just nowhere to be found. And Condi Rice is running the show.

President Bush is now conducting foreign policy just like John Kerry said he would do. It reminds me of all the rumors about Paul McCartney being dead back in the '60's -- you begin to wonder if this is even the same guy.

But there it is, in all its ugliness: the truth is that this is not the same President who stood in that chamber and defiantly told the world: you are either with us, or you are with them; somewhere along the line, some combination of the relentless criticism, horrible advice, sabotage from within his own Intelligence agencies, a treasonous news media he refused to confront, an organized and well-funded Left wing that has made the President react to it rather than the other way around, and (worst of all) being brainwashed by a State Department cult which has seemingly sucked the very life force from him...

To sum it up, President Bush has become a surrogate for the whims of Condi Rice:
With Russia’s military blasting its way into neighboring Georgia, this sure seems like a moment when the world could use a democratic super-cop.

Good luck. Right now, we don’t have one.

America effectively resigned from the much-reviled role of lone superpower five years ago, after toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002, and defying the Oil-for-Food devotees at the United Nations to overthrow the tyranny of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003. Since then, President Bush, to his credit, has stuck with the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq — a display of determination and firepower which goes far to explain why almost seven years have passed since September 11 without another major attack on U.S. shores.

But in dealing with other major threats to the free world, the White House has hung up its spurs, turned in its badge, and handed over the remaining items in the global-security portfolio to the soft-power ministrations of our globe-trotting diplomats. According to the State Department’s website, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice since opening up this diplomatic campaign full throttle in 2005 has made 76 trips to 79 countries, spending 2,017 hours on the road, in the air — whatever. Diplomacy has become a marathon end in itself. The resulting disconnects from reality were neatly summed up Monday on the State Department’s own website. While Russia’s military was smashing its way toward the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, the “Top Story” as tagged by State, was an interview with Rice, captioned “Iran: Staying on the Diplomatic Track.”

This is the soft-power mindset that seeks peace via a heap of Six-Party concessions to the grotesque thug-regime of North Korea; via fatuous U.N. resolutions ceding precious time to nuclear-wannabe Iran; via chit-chat with the terror-loving tyranny of Syria; via the feckless U.N. deal that officially brought a false end to Hezbollah’s 2006 war out of Lebanon against Israel (while allowing Hezbollah to re-arm, and without holding to account Hezbollah’s big backers in Damascus and Tehran). In this soft-power universe, peace is a process to be served by endless palaver over, de facto tolerance of, and European aid to a mini-state in Gaza run by the terrorists of Hamas.

In these misty realms, it’s diplomacy — not the overthrow of Saddam — that gets the credit for persuading Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi to hand over his nuclear kit to the U.S. For this, Gadhafi has been rewarded with a full diplomatic makeover. Not only is Libya out from under sanctions, but with U.S. assent Libya now holds a seat on the U.N. Security Council — presumably as an enticement for other despots to surrender their WMD factories. Never mind the many signs that Gadhafi surrendered his nuclear operations in late 2003 not as a diplomatic courtesy, but out of raw fear. Saddam’s overthrow was then still fresh in the news.

Since it became clear that the U.S., post-Saddam, has gone out of the regime-change business, no other nuclear-inclined terror-based government — North Korea or Iran, for instance — has even allowed inspectors an unfettered tour. In Syria, which but for an Israeli air strike last year would right now be firing up an illicit nuclear reactor built in cahoots with North Korea, the Baathist regime is currently refusing to allow U.N. inspectors so much as a second look at the site.

And, to bring this back to the current crisis over Russia’s invasion of Georgia, under the grand global tent of go-along get-along diplomacy, the U.S. and its long-winded European pals have for years politely issued one free pass after another to Moscow, despite the increasingly blatant KGB character of the modern Kremlin. Generously aided, bailed out and installed without justification in the 1990s as a member of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations, thus turning the G-7 into the G-8, Russia has crossed one forbidden line after another — with no real price paid.

The free world never plumbed suspicions of Russian involvement in the near-fatal poisoning of Ukraine’s Viktor Yushchenko as he campaigned in 2004 to become president. There has been no serious accounting for the fatal polonium-210 poisoning in London in 2006 of Russian agent-turned-dissident Alexander Litvinenko (the same year in which Russia chaired the G-8). There has been no great outcry over the bullying and murders of Russian democrats at home, including the jailing for five days last year of chess-champion turned democracy-advocate, Garry Kasparov. There has been not a single penalty paid for Russia’s flagrant, high-level, well-documented and highly profitable violations of UN sanctions on Saddam’s Iraq. There has been no serious resistance to Russian weapons deals, nuclear aid and broad support for Iran’s terrorist-sponsoring regime.

Vladimir Putin, first as Russia’s president, now as prime minister, has evidently observed all this soft power in action, and seen it as a series of green lights to start reclaiming the old Soviet dominions. He has drawn the logical inference that Russia may by now with impunity cross not only the lines of veiled misconduct, but the borders meant to separate it from neighboring sovereign states. Russian ructions in post-Soviet Georgia go back to the days just after the Soviet collapse, when even in the early 1990s the weak new Russia under the late President Boris Yeltsin scraped together the resources to stir up conflict in the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. For today’s Russia, with a far stronger central government, fueled by oil and gas income and emboldened by a world in which the American cowboy has holstered his guns, the same flashpoints have become pretexts for an all-out Russian invasion of Georgia.

If Washington’s diplomacy with Russia should have had one thing going for it, it is that Bush has an expert on the job. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a Soviet (a.k.a. Russia) specialist from way back. But so busy has Rice been with global diplomacy that she appears to have dropped the ball entirely on Georgia. Or so one might infer from the past few days in which President Bush appeared caught by surprise, tied up watching Olympic basketball and swimming in Beijing, while Russia got down to the business of bombing and shooting its way into Georgia — a U.S. ally which not so long ago Bush was praising for its Rose Revolution, thanking for its troop contributions in Iraq, and trying to usher into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

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I wanted to copy the whole thing. It is that spot on. You should read it all.
DiscerningTexan, 8/12/2008 11:20:00 PM |