Posted by: bkivey | 27 March 2014

Power, Leverage, and Control

The past several weeks the world has witnessed something not often seen since the end of the Cold War: the annexation of land by a neighboring power. Sure, Crimea held a referendum on joining Russia, but when your home is occupied by foreign troops, your voting may not be entirely unbiased. So Crimea is firmly in the Russian orbit, with parts or all of Ukraine likely to follow. As distasteful as the actions are to the West, they also illustrate the shifting of world power away from the US and Western Europe to Russia and China, and the West has only itself to blame.

For the past five some years, the so-called ‘Leader of the Free World’ has done pretty much everything possible to diminish American, and by extension, Western, influence. By word and deed, the man who ran for office in 2008 by painting George Bush as a diplomatic albatross has, when he can be bothered with it, operated US foreign policy through the delusional lens of Progressivism. This worldview treats foreign relations as distractions from the real work of social justice and ‘fairness’. The British and the Germans have expressed annoyance with this diffident attitude, while other allies have become increasingly nervous, especially in light of current events. Those powers with interests inimical to the US have seized a rare opportunity.

Candidate Obama focused his presidential campaign on the domestic issues dear to his base, and only passingly referred to foreign obligations, and then usually as a dig at the incumbent. I don’t recall any great pressure from the press on his views on foreign policy. A not surprising development from an institution that was completing the transformation from watchdog to Party apparatchik. President Obama’s concentration has been on domestic policy: “fundamentally transforming America.” And he has succeeded, with consequences plain to anyone with an understanding of human nature, but to which Progressives are blind.

President Obama has repeatedly said that he wishes for a world in which the US isn’t a hegemony, but where nations will negotiate as equals. This desire is at odds with the way the natural world operates, and in fact contradicts the Progressive mindset. Progressives may pay lip service to equality, but they see themselves as first among equals. For the Progressive, Animal Farm isn’t a cautionary tale: it’s an operating manual.

In much of the animal world, especially among the higher orders, there is a dominant individual in a given group. This has no moral value, it just is. As much as Progressives would like to ignore it, humans are part of the natural world, and we can no more deny our evolution than any other animal. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if one entity cedes power, another will take its place. All the talk of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ is just so much bushwa. The natural world selects for dominance, and we ignore that at our peril.

Now we are at a time when the US has ceded much of it’s moral, economic, and military authority. The Administration’s responses to the Crimean situation have been laughable, to the extent that they are openly mocked by Russian officials. Given this Administration’s record, appealing to the ‘rule of law’ is prima facia laughable. The Obama administration just doesn’t seem to understand that the Russians aren’t impressed with the Cool Kids, and are in fact forming their own club, one that doesn’t include the US.

One can only influence events to the extent that one has power, and power comes from leverage. US leverage vis a vis the Russian situation is rather small. The President has ruled out military action, and I can’t argue against that. The Russian Bear is not to be trifled with. But Western Europe imports a lot of energy from Russia, so they aren’t going to be too receptive to sanctions, and the Russians hold a fair amount of US debt, which they have threatened to call. The Russians have also threatened the real nuclear option, which is disconcerting. That kind of talk is usually expected after the onset of hostilities. That the Russians are confident in using it illustrates the contempt they have for this President.

It’s not surprising that the Russians are confident. They’ve watched a leader of the US who doesn’t even like the country he was elected to lead. Why should they be worried? If they act against the interests of the US, it’s probably A-OK with Mr. Obama. So congratulations, Barry. You’ve reduced the US to a second-rate power. Too bad we all had to take the ride with you.



  1. Animal Farm was a great book, only recently did I read it, I think Obama’s tower would be the spread of communist and social values through out this country and many others, I don’t think Russia’s boast about the nuclear winter was serious, but I could be wrong. With regard to leverage against Russia, I think Obama signaled Putin that this is ok, I realize that this is a contradiction to Obama’s anti colonialist ways, but nothing else makes any sense. The only tools that the United States has are its abundence of oil and natural gas deposits that could conceivably counter Putins ability to tighten supplies to Europe.

    • Hi Joe,

      The US does have an abundance of natural resources, but they are only useful if the political leadership has the will to use them, and this Administration has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not. This artificial constraint on energy supplies, as well as the coming collapse of the dollar as the international reserve currency, are going to for a rough ride for the US.

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