Clarifying moments are usually uncomfortable, but if taken to heart, they’re quite instructive. This week President Obama has had the opportunity to learn from a clarifying moment with regard to the imbroglio in Ukraine. Whether he’ll learn from it is a long shot, of course. He hasn’t gotten the memo that all of us, irrespective of age and our lots in life, are works in progress.
A friend asked me last weekend to sum up in a brief nutshell what exactly was going on in Ukraine, so here goes: Vladimir Putin intends to reconstitute the Soviet Union. He has wanted to do this for some time now, and the most delightfully entertaining reaction from liberal pundits is that—no joke—it’s George Bush’s fault. Russia invaded another Soviet state (Georgia) on Bush’s watch, after all. So shut up, liberals say, about Obama being weak. This whole thing would have happened despite who was in office.
Among the things to note is the fact that Russia invaded Georgia in August of 2008, when it seemed rather obvious that Obama was going to beat McCain. Putin knew then that the incoming President was unconcerned with foreign policy. That’s different from paying attention and drawing the wrong conclusions about what works; from day one, foreign policy was a pesky distraction from Obama’s domestic ambitions. And so, as Russia, China, and the mullahs in Iran, for example, have observed this president’s priorities, among which the rest of the world simply isn’t one. The rational conclusion has been that now is the time to act. In the case of China, the desire to surpass us as an economic superpower actuates. The powers that be in Iran want to spread radical Islam at all costs, including death to themselves.
And in Russia, President Putin intends to rematch the United States in The Cold War.
Why? To say ego is the first reason is to be right, but insufficient. Putin, indeed, wants a legacy of rebuilding The Soviet Union. But he also is concerned about energy—traded worldwide in dollars—and isn’t too happy about our national debt. If Ron Paul had a point when he said that bad guys were attacking us because we’ve made them mad, he didn’t know what the point was. Reagan’s “peace through strength” policy worked. Part of the strength that Reagan helped procure, though, was strength of the dollar.
Russia’s economy depends on energy, which, in part, is what has driven Putin into Ukraine, rich with pipelines. Putin’s calculation (and it’s rational) is that the dollar weakening. He’s right.
So, what can we do to fix this? Stop printing money, I say in concert with my Ron Paul friends. And stop electing presidents who are hostile to the notion of paying attention to foreign policy. It matters.
By: Will Anderson