The Kremlin is losing it …

July 26, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’m old enough to remember the depths of the Cold War in the 70s and 80s, with Moscow making thundering denunciations about “American plots.” This latest from the Russian Foreign Ministry is like a nostalgic visit with an old, crazy “friend.”

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

As the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate in the wake of the shootdown of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 on 17 July by Russian-backed forces near Donetsk, it’s clear that the Kremlin is in a state of panic, unsure what to do next. We are in another Cold War now, whether we like it or not. As an indication of Moscow’s remarkable state of mind at present, I cannot do better than pass on the brand-new message posted by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs this morning, in full, without comment: 

Comment of the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding the continuing anti-Russian attacks by the U.S. Administration:

Judging by the unrelenting campaign of defamation against Russia organized by the American administration, blatant lies are increasingly being relied upon there to conduct foreign policy. Take for one the new statements by the U.S. President’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, who directly…

View original 239 more words


The New July Crisis

July 23, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

If I were the superstitious type, a European diplomatic/military crisis 100 years to the month after the July Crisis that lead World War I would have me worried. I’m not superstitious, but Russia’s indecent, aggressive, and barbaric policy toward Ukraine and the West still has me worried. Recommended reading.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

This summer is the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War, the “great seminal catastrophe” of the last century, in the memorable phrase of the diplomatist-scholar George Kennan. As a historian who has spent much of his life studying the events of 1914, I had long looked forward to this centenary, and the necessary reexamination of the July Crisis of that fateful summer that the anniversary would bring. I did not expect it to include a second July Crisis.

Exactly one hundred years ago today, Vienna presented its fateful ultimatum to Belgrade, demanding that Serbia clarify its role in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo some three weeks before. Vienna expected their demands would be rebuffed, getting Austro-Hungarian generals the war against “Dog Serbia” that they had long craved, and so they did. That did not work out quite as planned, but then again…

View original 516 more words


Faced with antisemitic riots, French government does what it does best: appeasement

July 22, 2014
"We surrender! Don't hurt us!"

“We surrender! Don’t hurt us!”

Muslims in France have been rioting, including attacking synagogues, in the wake of Israel’s retaliation against Hamas for months of attacks against Israeli civilians. Faced with growing antisemitic civil disorder, the French government naturally… condemned Israel:

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Wednesday for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to end violence in the Gaza Strip which Palestinian sources say have left nearly 600 Palestinians dead.

Close to 30 Israelis, almost all of them soldiers, have been killed as Israel battles to stop Hamas rocket fire, thwart attack tunnels and weaken the Islamist group’s ability to launch attacks from the Strip.

“In Israel and in Gaza, the situation is very hard,” Fabius said as he arrived for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers.

“Nothing justifies continued attacks and massacres which do nothing but only claim more victims and stoke tensions, hatred,” he said.

“France will act forcefully to demand an immediate ceasefire,” he added

Odd, but I must have missed the Foreign Minister’s demands for an immediate ceasefire when Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians, when three teens were kidnapped and murdered, and when rockets were fired at a nuclear reactor. And surely he condemned in the loudest terms Hamas’ use of women and children as human shields, hoping for casualties in order to get that all-important propaganda coup.

France: Leading the way in caving in since 1940.

PS: Yes, I know a Palestinian teen was murdered by Israeli thugs in retaliation for the killing of the three Jewish boys. Here’s the difference: the Israeli killers were arrested by Israel and will face trial for their crime. Palestinians celebrated the murderers of the three teenagers as heroes. Who is the civilized one, and who is the barbarian? You make the call.

via Jihad Watch

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Scientific proof: Socialism makes you more likely to lie and cheat

July 21, 2014
"Liar"

“Liar”

This is amusing. Researchers from the University of Munich and ST’s beloved Duke University conducted a joint study that examined a person’s willingness to lie, if he could profit from that lie. The subjects were Berliners who were asked to play a game in which they could win a small amount of money. Each person would roll a die and record the results: higher numbers meant you won more money. This is what they found:

Honest participants would be expected to roll ones, twos and threes as often as fours, fives and sixes. But that did not happen: the sheets handed in had a suspiciously large share of high numbers, suggesting many players had cheated.

After finishing the game, the players had to fill in a form that asked their age and the part of Germany where they had lived in different decades. The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers of high rolls.

The article carefully points out that this disparity might also be due to the relative poverty of the old East Germany (and the region does continue to lag the rest of the country to this day), but, come on. A Socialist society, in which the State controls the money you’re allowed to make gives you every incentive to cheat, just as the incidence of tax cheating goes up here when tax rates rise beyond a certain point. These people are doing what the system encouraged them to do.

What makes this amusing is that it’s directly contrary to the Socialist claim of being able to “perfect’ society, culminating in the USSR’s “New Man.” Instead, it’s apparently the capitalist societies, with their bourgeois notions of personal accountability, limited government, free enterprise, the Rule of Law, and property rights that produce more honest citizens.

Maybe they should survey conservatives vs. progressives, next. smiley wink

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Donetsk Rebels and Russian Intelligence

July 19, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Something to keep in mind: the key leaders of the so-called “Donetsk rebels,” who shot down that Malaysian airliner, are all Russian intelligence operatives. This massacre may well have been an accident, but the fingerprints all over it are Moscow’s.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

As the world tries to answer the question of who exactly fired the missile that shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, killing 298 innocent people, Moscow is doing its best to lie, obfuscate, shift blame, and evade responsibility. The Kremlin’s best-case scenario now is that local rebels in Ukraine’s Donetsk region who are under the operational control of Russian military intelligence (GRU), took it upon themselves to shoot down a passenger aircraft, using a Russian-supplied Buk (SA-11) anti-aircraft system, having mistaken it for an unarmed Ukrainian An-26 transport plane. The reality may be worse, and it will take time to establish the facts, particularly with Kremlin proxies obstructing the investigation, destroying evidence, hiding bodies, and acting as if the world is not watching this closely. The extent of Russian push-back suggests that Moscow has a great deal to hide.

Nevertheless, even if the shootdown was entirely the work of Donetsk…

View original 476 more words


UK Government Study: Greens use more electricity than skeptics

July 15, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Oh, taste the sweet, sweet irony.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Story submitted by Eric Worrall

A UK government study has concluded that people concerned about global warming, on average, use more electricity than climate skeptics.

Some highlights from the study follow.

On the “benefits” of switching off appliances;

View original 227 more words


The Three C’s of U.S. Espionage in Germany

July 14, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

This is a very interesting discussion of why we might want to conduct intelligence operations inside the territory of our ally.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

New details continue to emerge about the brewing SpyWar between Berlin and Washington, DC, over alleged U.S. espionage directed at the German government. While significant questions remain, it’s becoming clear that Markus R., the thirty-one year-old employee of the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst — BND) who was spying for the CIA, fell well short of James Bond, having been caught by German counterintelligence when trying to sell classified materials to the Russians too. The second espionage suspect, a Defense Ministry official, although under suspicion, remains free, and that case may be misunderstood: time will tell.

What’s not in doubt is that Germany is a full-fledged panic about American spying that has already resulted in the departure of the CIA’s station chief in Berlin and will surely bring extra scrutiny to a lot of U.S. activities in Central Europe. Coming on top of the Snowden Operation, with its…

View original 1,313 more words


Quote of the Day, post-July 4th zinger edition

July 5, 2014

Bullseye!

From a Ukrainian journalist meditating on his country and ours:

Why don’t we use the American Constitution? It was written by really smart guys, it has worked for over 200 years, and they’re not using it anymore.

Ouch! It stings because it’s so close to the truth.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


What about *your* gaffes, Hillary?

July 3, 2014

Yes, my friends, it’s time once again for one of our favorite games, “If it had been a Republican…”

Remember, how, back in the 2012 campaign, the press and the Democrat support groups (redundant, I know) hounded Republican nominee Mitt Romney over supposed misstatements and gaffes while on a foreign tour? I can recall one incident in particular, when Romney was in Poland and his campaign wanted to deal US foreign policy issues, a reporter chased after him shouting “What about your gaffes??” The purpose, of course, was to plant the idea with the public that Mitt’s minor faux pas showed he wasn’t qualified to be president.

In which case, I eagerly await Hillary being pestered about her foot-in-mouth moments:

The former Secretary of State, who’s been heavily promoting her new book “Hard Choices” in a likely precursor to running for president in 2016, appeared to state the Conservative and Tory Parties in Britain were rival political parties during a BBC interview.

“Tory” is in fact another name for the Conservative Party in Britain.

Asked by the host what she thought of the “Special Relationship” between the U.S. and Great Britain, Clinton declared it was “very special between our countries.”

“There’s not just a common language, but a common set of values that we can fall back on,” she said. “It doesn’t matter in our country whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat or frankly, in your country, whether it’s a Conservative or a Tory. There is a level of trust and understanding. That doesn’t mean we always agree because, of course, we don’t.”

As the article points out, Hillary was our Secretary of State, who had to deal with our close allies in the UK on a nearly daily basis, and yet she didn’t know “Tory” and “Conservative” were synonyms? It reminds me of the recent Obama ambassadorial appointee who didn’t know his soon-to-be host country, Norway, has a king and not a president.

For supposedly being so much smarter than everyone else and for all their claiming to know what’s best for us, progressives sure are ignorant of the wider world, no?

Of course, it could easily have been a simple slip of the tongue on Hillary’s part, saying “Conservative and Tory” when she meant “Conservative and Labor,” the kind of mental backfire we’re all subject to from time to time.

But not all of us are (probably) running for president, an office that has almost sole control over US foreign affairs, including relations with one of our closest allies.

And so I expect the MSM to grill Hillary mercilessly over this gaffe, hounding her incessantly with questions about her competence and knowledge

Just as soon as she becomes a Republican.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bookshelf update — Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War

July 3, 2014

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Thomas Allen’s “Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War.”

 

book cover Tories

 

 

I’m only a few chapters into it, so far, but “Tories” is an entertaining and thought-provoking history of what happened to the losers in the American Revolution: those Colonials who remained loyal to King George III and Parliament. It’s a salutary reminder that this was also a civil war, one that tore apart friends, families, and whole societies. Just as Patriots saw themselves as fighting for American freedom, the Loyalists believed they had justice on their side as they lost all defending the Rule of Law and rights of property, things we still value. I dislike moral relativism, but this may be one case in which it’s good to remember that both sides had their heroes and both their villains. Anyway, “Tories” is available in both Kindle (1) and paperback formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. But I still think it’s a good book.

Footnote:
(1) Sadly I’ve found about one error per page in the Kindle version, in which two words will be smashed together with no space between. These are all too common in Kindle e-books.


28 June 1914: Uncovering the Sarajevo Assassination

June 30, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’d let the centenary of the assassination in Sarajevo of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the incident that sparked World War I, pass without mention this weekend. Inexcusable of me, but, in penance, here’s a link to a very interesting post by John Schindler on some of the mysteries still surrounding that event.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

One hundred years ago, the most consequential assassination in modern times occurred. It was the most famous too, since the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo set off a chain of events that led, a month later, to the start of the Great War, a catastrophe that took ten million lives and pretty much destroyed European civilization. The effects of that live on today, in many places: in Iraq, jihadists right now are tearing up the borders of their country that were drawn up by the victors of the Great War, from the corpse of the Ottoman Empire, which suffered its final defeat in 1918.

Despite its infamy, the Sarajevo assassination remains shrouded in some mystery, and that’s what I seek to cut through today. But first, the personal tragedy. It is easy to forget that, behind all the conspiracy and resulting diplomacy and war-making…

View original 3,168 more words


Why Germany Refuses to Play a Bigger Role in NATO

June 22, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Hint: It’s not just that Russia has Germany by the gas pipe. After two World Wars and a conscious decision to rebuild Germany to be less threatening, we got what we asked for.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

One of the stranger aspects of the slow-motion crisis over Ukraine caused by Russian provocations and aggression is the uneven response from NATO members. While Alliance states located closer to Russia, which experienced Moscow’s occupation during the Cold War, generally have taken the threat of aggressive Kremlin moves seriously – Poland and Estonia especially – the reaction of some NATO members has been lackluster. In particular, responses in Germany to the Ukraine crisis have been tepid, to use charitable language, and excessive sympathy for Moscow’s actions and attitudes is so commonplace that Germans have a word – Russlandversteher – for it.

Why Germany displays such misplaced sympathy for Russia, despite Kremlin misconduct in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, is a complex issue that is rooted deeply in German history, and cannot be divorced from the broader tendency to anti-Americanism that has become vocal in recent years. That said, Germany’s unwillingness to do…

View original 1,849 more words


Exploring Al-Qa’ida’s Russian Connection

June 11, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Honestly, I had never considered this possibility, given Moscow’s well-known problems with its own jihadists. But, on reading this essay, one has to wonder if there isn’t some sort of “understanding” between Zawahiri and and Russian intelligence. Very interesting speculation, here.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

[Note: This is an unusually controversial piece, even for my blog, for reasons that will quickly become obvious. Linkages between Al-Qa'ida and Russian intelligence have been discussed in hushed tones among spies in many countries, for years, and this matter has been a "hobby file" of mine for some time. Here is a think-piece on it, in the hope of spurring additional discussion and research into this important yet murky matter. This is particularly necessary given rising tensions between Moscow and the West at present. Considering the subject, I have eschewed my usual hyperlinks in favor of proper end-notes.]

There are two histories: The official history, mendacious, which is given to us; and the secret history, where you find the real causes of events, a shameful history.”

– Honoré de Balzac

The history of al-Qa’ida has been extensively documented in many languages. Since the 9/11 attacks on the…

View original 2,787 more words


(Video) Hitler and Chamberlain, Putin and Obama

June 2, 2014

Obama as Chamberlain

(Photo via Israel Matzav)

I’ve been saying for years, almost since the Jihadi War began, that the state of international relations gives me a “1930s vibe,” a feeling that we may be on a path toward another World War. That feeling has come and gone as the years passed, as I’m sure it did for those living in the 30s, but it’s never quite gone away. In fact, Russia’s predatory moves toward Ukraine have brought that feeling roaring back, the parallels being striking.

Bill Whittle has noticed the same trends and, in this video for Truth Revolt, compares a lion, a bear, and two lambs:

But it’s not Russia that worries me most, unless it’s in combination with other powers. Russia is a dying state, its demographic trends signalling serious future decline. Its military, outside of special elite units, just isn’t all that good, and, while they’ve made steps to rebuild, they’re still  a long way off. (They had trouble mobilizing the limited forces they used to assault Georgia in 2008.) Their economy is far too dependent on natural resources, especially oil, but Russian oil is notoriously expensive to extract. Fracking technology in the West promises to cut the legs out from under Putin and his successors as it drives the price of oil and gas down, making Russia’s less marketable.

China concerns me more: a rising power with a strong hyper-nationalist faction, an aggressive foreign policy, and a strong sense of (as Bill notes about Russia) historical grievance. Some incident in the South or East China Seas could easily be the spark for a major conflagration.

And then there’s Iran: a fascist theocracy that has promised to destroy Israel and is desperately seeking its own nuclear weapons to do just that.

We face a bear, a dragon, and a lion, while we are lead by lambs.

Yep. I have a bad feeling about this.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Frances refuses to fly US WWII vets to Normandy for D-Day anniversary

May 18, 2014
"Dear France, you're welcome."

“Dear France, you’re welcome.”

It’s the 70th anniversary, and the men who carried out the landings are in their 80s and 90s, now. You would think, given France’s miserable performance during the war, they could show a little respect and gratitude to those who risked their lives to kick the Nazis out of their country (1). But, no. They’re French, after all.

Ingrates:

Seven decades after ­Allied troops stormed Normandy’s beaches and saved France from the Nazis, the surrender-happy nation is turning its back on hundreds of US veterans who want to return next month to mark the invasion’s 70th anniversary.

France has broken its promise to pay for the vets to fly to this year’s commemoration, according to Rep. Michael Grimm.
“Our chief-of-staff heard it from the French Embassy in DC — that they would be flown out to France [for free],” said Nick Iacono, a spokesman for the Staten Island congressman.

But when The Post contacted the embassy Friday, the French turned up their noses as if smelling rotten Camembert.

“The French government never offered to pay for the plane tickets of the veterans traveling to France for the 70th commemoration of D-Day,” said Dana Purcarescu, a spokeswoman for the French ­Embassy in Washington.

Let’s hope this is the result of some sort of miscommunication, and not the slap in the face it appears to be.

But, I doubt it. This is France we’re talking about. They’ve made condescension and insult into an art form.

Footnote:
(1) And, for the record, I think the French government owes the same respect  and honor to the surviving members of the British, Canadian, and Polish armies that also risked everything on D-Day.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Another ‘Climate McCarthyism bombshell’, leaked memo shows concern within ranks on ‘professional ethics’ of climate science

May 17, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

If you ever wanted evidence of “noble cause corruption” in the climate science “community,” this memo from dissenting German meteorologists should suffice.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

DMG_memo_2 Leaked Memo On Climatology Exposes Growing Worry Within German Meteorological Society…

”Unacceptable Unethical Developments”

A reader/professor has sent me an internal memo he recently obtained from a meteorologist and member of the Deutsche Meteorologische Gesellschaft [German Meteorological Society], abbreviated as DMG. Clearly grave concern is emerging over a large swath of the broader German meteorological-climatological community in the wake of the Lennart Bengtsson witchhunt.

View original 204 more words


#Ukraine: someone may well be shot for this

May 5, 2014
"I won"

Do not anger the new Czar

Or maybe Vlad will just settle on an expenses-paid trip to a reopened Siberian gulag camp for the guy who revealed just how rigged the Crimean referendum was:

The website of the “President of Russia’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights” posted a blog that was quickly taken down as if it were toxic radioactive waste. According to the Council’s report about the March referendum to annex Crimea, the turnout was a maximum 30%. And of these, only half voted for annexation – meaning only 15 percent of Crimean citizens voted for annexation.

The fate of Crimea, therefore, was decided by the 15 percent of Crimeans, who voted in favor of unification with Russia (under the watchful eye of Kalashnikov-toting soldiers).

The official Crimean election results, as reported widely in the Western press, showed a 97 percent vote in favor of annexation with a turnout of 83 percent. No international observers were allowed. This pro-Russia election pressure would have raised the already weak vote in favor of annexation.

To make sure no one misses this:

Official Kremlin results: 97% for annexation, turnout 83 percent, and percent of Crimeans voting in favor 82%.

President’s Human Rights Council results: 50% for annexation, turnout 30%, percent of Crimeans voting in favor 15%.

You can imagine how fast that web page came down.

In the larger scheme of things, though, this is, to borrow a phrase, “just a glitch.” Putin will hold the same sham referendums in other regions of Ukraine he wants to carve off, and get away with it, because the West, under the feckless leadership of Obama and Kerry, will do nothing.

Except offer more MREs.

PS: Think I’m joking about “being shot?” Just ask Anna Politikovskaya. Oh, wait…

via Frank Luntz


I weep: our foreign policy has been reduced to hashtags

April 25, 2014
Your Obama foreign policy team

Your Obama foreign policy team

Well, I weep and I mock.

For those not familiar with Twitter, “hashtags” are labels preceded by a number sign, as in “#politics.” They were developed to make it easier for people to search for related messages on the system, though people also use them as asides to provide commentary, humor, or snark.

A few weeks ago, the United States Department of State, faced with the slow-motion dismemberment of Ukraine by Russia, apparently decided that hashtags were also effective tools of superpower diplomacy. Thus we saw this from State’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki:

My reaction, you’ll be surprised to learn, was one of dismay and disgust. This is hardly the serious diplomacy one would expect from a department once headed by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, John Hay, Dean Acheson, and George Schultz. One would think that, having been roundly mocked here and overseas (You mean you didn’t hear the giggling from Moscow?), the State Department would have given up on managing our foreign affairs like it was a popularity contest, complete with cheerleading. But, no. No, some genius at State decided this was a winning strategy and deployed it again, only this time with an exhortation to Putin:

“Promise of hashtag??” You have got to be kidding me. “Yes, Vlad, be nice to Ukraine. You wouldn’t want to fail the spirit of the hashtag, would you?” Someone last night speculated that an intern forgot to substitute the real hashtag in place of the placeholder word “hashtag,” but that’s immaterial. The whole idea that anyone should think that using catchy social media slogans as a tool of diplomacy would be seen as anything other than self-inflicted humiliation is laughable. That the “strategy” originated at the highest levels of State is infuriating.

And so I couldn’t resist commenting:

And then I offered examples of the promise of hashtag and its power in US foreign affairs:

Others pointed out that the promise of hashtag was global. For example:

Indeed, Lincoln ended the Civil War with it:

But this one, I think, summed up the depth and gravity of State’s strategic thinking in this crisis:

While this baby speaks for me:

But I did offer Ms. Psaki and her co-workers a friendly and much-needed hint:

No, they do not, and it’s in part because people who think they do are in charge of our foreign policy that the world has become a much more dangerous place. It’s a common joke that both sides make to wish for the day “when the adults will be in charge, again,” but, in this case, it’s no longer a joke.  We’re facing foes around the globe who operate via the calculus of power, will, and national interest, while we are represented by community organizers who treat serious matters of state as occasions for virtual rallies.

Argh.

RELATED: More at Twitchy here and here. Jonah Goldberg on Obama’s foreign policy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


“Special War” Goes Mainstream

April 21, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

TV talking heads wonder when and if Russia will invade Ukraine. As John Schindler notes, they already have, and they’re very good at disguising it.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

One of the main missions of this blog is spreading the idea that intelligence matters in the real world, and that a lot of important activities involve covert action that is anything but transparent; many media types, unacquainted with such dark arts, are skeptical of these notions, however, and sometimes this is a hard sell. One upside to the Ukraine crisis is that it’s brought some of these usually secret shenanigans into a bit of sunlight before the world.

For months I’ve been explaining that this all amounts to what I term Special War, and it’s something important that the Russians excel at across the board; regrettably, the United States does not. Ukraine is a realtime laboratory for the whole range of Moscow’s Special War activities, especially provocation. Slowly, the Mainstream Media is starting to notice.

Today’s New York Timeshas a good article explaining how Russian intelligence…

View original 264 more words


Solipsism as foreign policy: Russia, America, and Cold War II

April 7, 2014
"Tell me you love me!"

Self-absorption

There’s a very interesting long essay by John Schindler at XX Committee that examines the ideological components of “Putinism”inter alia a rejection of Western, and especially American, post-modernism; the assertion of national sovereignty; ethnic Great Russian nationalism; and an alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church to protect “spiritual values”– and I think it’s well worth your time to read it. One section I want to quote, however, analyzes the difficulty progressive, postmodern Western elites have when it comes to “getting” Putin and Russia:

This is simply because we are WEIRD. That’s social science shorthand for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic – and nobody is WEIRDer than Americans. In the last several decades many Americans, and essentially all our elites, have internalized a worldview based on affluence, individualism, and secularism that makes us unique, globally speaking. So much so that we seem unable to comprehend that there actually are opposing viewpoints out there.

Barack Obama, by virtue of his diverse ethnic and religious background and elite education, is almost an ideal stand-in for the WEIRD demographic, as he embodies so many things WEIRDos admire: education, affluence, diversity, progressive social views, etc. He comes close to being almost the perfect post-modern American, which perhaps is why so many Americans of that bent adore him deeply. Thus when President Obama says he detects no ideological rivalry with Putin’s Russia, he undoubtedly speaks the truth as he sees it.

Americans of all stripes have a well-honed ability to ignore inconvenient facts, and our better educated citizens seem particularly prone to this (as I noted with our “expert” inability to see what North Korea believes, even though they aren’t shy about it). At root, I suspect Obama and many Americans refuse to accept the in-our-face reality of Putin and his regime because they represent a past version of ourselves, caught up in retrograde views that are entirely unacceptable to our elites, therefore they pretend they do not exist, because they don’t actually exist in their world.

Simply put, Vladimir Putin is the stuff of Western progressive nightmares because he’s what they thought they’d gotten past. He’s a traditional male with “outmoded” views on, well, everything: gender relations, race, sexual identity, faith, the use of violence, the whole retrograde package. Putin at some level is the Old White Guy that post-moderns fear and loathe, except this one happens to control the largest country on earth plus several thousand nuclear weapons – and he hates us.

It’s solipsism as foreign policy. Our governing elites, closeted in their various ivory towers, simply can’t conceive of worldviews that operate in a wholly different paradigm. So convinced they are that their views are self-evidently right, that they cannot imagine that another elite might strongly believe in something wholly at odds with their own assumptions. John Kerry’s admonition to Putin that countries “simply don’t act that way in the 21st century” is a stellar example; he seemed equally angry, dumbfounded, and aghast, as if he had trouble processing unexpected data. It’s similar to the problems we as a largely secular society have with dealing with Iran’s mullahs, a faction of which wishes to bring about a Shi’ite “end times”“They couldn’t really believe that, could they??”

This inability to see others as they see themselves and not as “just like us” and to understand what they value is going to make it very hard to conduct a successful foreign policy against a newly-aggressive Russia, especially if, as Schindler believes, we’re headed for Cold War II.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 12,883 other followers