You could not make it up. In the middle of a major international crisis, Obama and Biden are running round the White House like Batman and aged Robin because Mishy wants them to; I watched that on the British news and heard the sound of Mrs Thatcher whirring in her grave. It has come to this. Obama’s speech was the wettest, most pathetic, least convincing warning since ever; ‘red lines’? Don’t make me laugh. America and the ‘West’ have zero credibility in Moscow. Putin knows what he wants and is getting it; Obama can, literally, jog on.
The one person in all of this who can feel happy is Jimmy Carter. Hithertofore the most useless American President of modern times in the international sphere, he rises to second to bottom, with the great Chicago social organiser now firmly anchored in the bottom position; not even Clinton would have been this bad.
You might, rightly, ask what could the US and the West do? But that misses the point of deterrence. Whilst the Russians respected us, they feared us, and even if there was a limit to what we could do, the Russians weren’t eager to see what that was; now they laugh at the USA and really don’t care. Obama will make another speech – like the one he did about ‘red lines’ and Syria – and Putin will need help to stop laughing.
Once you lose respect, you don’t get it back. As long as Obama is in the white House, Putin knows he can do what he likes. Unlike the great Chicago social organiser, Putin is a man of power, not rhetoric. He knows what he wants, he knows how to get it, and he knows that America poses zero danger to that. The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power(less) can say to Putin that ‘actions speak louder than words’, but that one cuts both ways – the US does not act, and that says everything.
Throughout the Cold War one could have said that it was unlikely that the USA and NATO would have been able to wage a real war against the Soviets; would they really have nuked the Russians? That, in a way, is the point – no one, including the Soviets, knew. What they did know was that Harry Truman had nuked the Japanese, and that was all they needed to know; who is going to run the risk that the other side is not bluffing?
Obama has made the classic liberal mistake; he has assumed that words without swords mean something; Hobbes was right – covenants without swords are mere words. Putin is afraid of power, not words. If words were actions, Obama would be the best President ever; as they aren’t, he’s just the best President the liberals have – a legend in his own lunch-hour. But does he then have to put on a stunt running round the White House?
Can anyone imagine Thatcher and Reagan being filmed running round the White House at the behest of their spouses in this sort of situation? If there ever was an image which summed up the sheer useless, media-focussed, let’s everyone feel pink, warm and fuzzy ‘cos that’s cool, tone of the Obama White House, this is it.
In early 1943 Stalin is said to have commented, when Churchill and Roosevelt refused to go for a second front in Europe, that he would send some Polish women to invade Italy, as they, at least knew how to fight. But for all his scorn, he didn’t, because he knew he needed the fire-power America packed. How the mighty have fallen.
From now until the next Presidential election, the rulers of the Axis of Evil can relax – Obama is on watch, so whatever they want to do, they can.