World View: Russia Takes the Lead in Foreign Policy for 2014
This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com
- Russia takes the lead in world foreign policy
- The Truman Doctrine versus Leading from Behind
- France in 1940: Leading from behind
- Things to watch for in 2014
Russia takes the lead in world foreign policy
World leader Vladimir Putin (Reuters)
In 2011, Russia was very unhappy that they'd abstained in the
U.N. Security Council resolution allowing military action in Libya,
because they felt that the U.S. and Nato had taken advantage of the
situation to go much farther than they had said they would. ( "22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics") At the
time, I wrote the following, quoting an analyst from Jamestown:
"Russia plans to demand that Nato restrict its
activities to only the humanitarian acts allowed by the UN
resolution, and then veto any attempt to expand the resolution in
the Security Council, in order to guarantee a continued stalemate
This will set a precedent that allows Russia to effectively
control future activities of Nato, since only activities approved
by the Security Council, and hence by Russia, could ever be
Moscow has a broader interest in seeing the US and NATO tied down
in wars of choice and other protracted confrontations. These wars
increase Russia’s leeway for action in ex-Soviet territories,
which is Russia's top priority, according to the article.
Furthermore, if Libya's oil exports are stopped, then Russia's own
oil exports become more valuable."
Little did I realize at the time how spectacularly successful this
Russian policy would be. Under the leadership of Russia's president
Vladimir Putin, not only Nato foreign policy but also U.S. foreign
policy have become completed crippled. Whether we're talking about
policy in Mideast, or Afghanistan, or the South China Sea, it's almost
impossible to think of any action that President Barack Obama took
that wouldn't have been fully approved by Putin.
This was most spectacular in Syria. Putin repeatedly humiliated Obama
by forcing Obama to flip-flop on red line after another. Finally, on
the issue of chemical weapons, Obama gave in to Putin completely.
And that's not all. Putin has humiliated Obama repeatedly in other
areas as well, most notably in the handling of Snowden.
The Truman Doctrine versus Leading from Behind
Whether people like it or not, America has been Policeman of the World
since the end of World War II. President Harry Truman made it so with
the Truman Doctrine in 1947, saying that no matter how much it cost
the United States to help others who wish to be free, the cost would
be far less than the cost of World War II. President John Kennedy
reaffirmed the Truman Doctrine, when he said, "Ask not what your
country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."
( "25-Sep-13 World View -- President Obama blasts Russia and Iran over Syria")
What's remarkable is how thoroughly America has abandoned the Truman
Doctrine during the last couple of years under President Obama.
Obama's policy of "Leading from behind" is the antithesis of the
Truman Doctrine, the analog of a city policeman telling the street
gangs to fight it out among themselves, and call him when it's all
France in 1940: Leading from behind
One reader in the Generational Dynamics forum compared Obama's attitude towards that
of France when the Nazis invaded in 1940:
"I wonder if this is what it felt like before World
War II. The players are different of course. The Philippines or
Vietnam may play the role of Poland, and Japan perhaps France. Or
maybe Japan is Poland and the United States France.
One could see when threatened with "a nuclear winter that no one
could win" Obama would abandon Hawaii and other Pacific Island
territories, plus the Panama Canal to China, and withdraw all
surviving U.S. military forces out of the Pacific Theater leaving
the U.S. west coast as a hostage guaranteeing U.S. neutrality.
As preposterous as this sounds, France surrendered in World War II
to Germany with the vast majority of the French Army intact.
The French Army was the largest Army in the world at the start of
World War II and considered one of the most well equipped with
artillery and infantry weapons. France also had one of the
largest Naval Fleets in the World. Most of the French Army sat on
the border of Germany at the time of surrender with no significant
German forces between that border and the German industrial
The bulk of the German army was far behind French lines, near
Paris and other Northern French cities, with tanks and troop
transports, but no fuel supplies that would allow those tanks and
troops to withdraw and defend Germany.
The French just decided not to trade the destruction of French
cities for the destruction of German cities.
One could only guess what would happen in Western Europe and the
Middle East if the U.S. was no longer willing to risk anything to
defend U.S. allies."
The situation with France in WW II is a fascinating one, and it really
only makes sense when you consider what happened in France's two
previous major wars.
In World War I, France had fought the bloody Battle of Verdun and
Battle of the Somme, resulting in tens of millions of deaths. It was
horrific. And then what happened? First the Americans came over.
Next, the Germans surrendered, not because they were defeated on the
battlefield, but because of internal political squabbles in Berlin's
government during their generational Unraveling era. And after the
French fought all those bloody battles, who got all the credit for
winning? The Americans.
Also, in 1940, there were still memories of the 1871 Paris Commune,
where tens of thousands of Parisians rose up and killed each other in
a battle that was historically viewed as insane.
In 1940, the French well remembered the Paris Commune and World War I,
both wars with insane results. So in 1940, the mood was, "Hey, here
we go again. Let the British fight this one. Let the Americans fight
this one. We're going to sit this one out, because to do anything
else is insane."
From France's point of view, this worked out great. London got
bombed, but Paris did not, and the Germans were defeated anyway. I
doubt that the French would have openly gloated about that, but
"Leading from behind" worked very well for them in WW II.
Unfortunately, Leading from behind hasn't worked so well for America
so far, as American foreign policy has been disastrously weak and
naive, and has led to problems around the world:
The problems are part of a trend that's leading to a new world war,
but that's going to happen anyway.
- Russia and Iran have taken the leadership roles in the
Mideast, making Syria a magnet for Sunni jihadists around the world,
and creating a rising sectarian conflict throughout the region. Saudi
Arabia is becoming an American enemy.
- Obama's determination to avoid conflict has allowed Iraq to return
to the worst sectarian violence in years, and is threatening to result
in a rout in Afghanistan, as America withdraws in 2014.
- In the Asia Pacific, former allies are questioning America's
willingness to meet its commitments in mutual defense agreements, and
Japan, Philippines and other countries are bolstering their own
It was almost ten years ago that I said that in the coming Clash of
Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Arab countries
would be the "axis" fighting against the "allies," the West, India,
Russia, Iran and Israel.
Ten years ago, the thought that we might be allied with Iran seemed
fantastical, and indeed I was criticized for suggesting it. But few
people would consider it fantastical today. Iran and West are moving
closer together, while Saudi Arabia is moving away from the Wet.
At the same time, it's probably a good thing that Japan, Philippines
and others are arming themselves, as we'll need all the help we can
get confronting China's plans for full-scale war.
Things to watch for in 2014
Here are the major things to watch for in 2014:
In U.S. domestic policy, Obamacare continues to be a growing economic
disaster, and it's expect to cause major dislocations in the
healthcare industry in 2014. ( "1-Dec-13 World View -- Obamacare: 500M lines of code, $500M, only 60% completed")
- China is continuing to arm itself rapidly, preparing to launch
a pre-emptive missile attack at America's cities, military
installations, and aircraft carriers. Only the timing is unknown, but
now thanks to the Edward Snowden's disclosures to the Chinese and
Russians, America may be almost completely defenseless against such an
attack, and China may decide to take advantage in 2014.
- Tensions are sky-high between China and Japan, China and
Philippines, and China an Vietnam, and it would not take much for a
minor military confrontation to occur, and that could spiral into a
much bigger military confrontation.
- Thanks to the situation in Syria, the entire Mideast is becoming
inflamed along Sunni/Shia sectarian lines and, once again, it would
not take much for a minor military confrontation to spiral into
- The Wall Street stock market bubble has gotten so large that
mainstream financial advisers are predicting a crash soon. (See, for
example, Estimating the Risk of a Market Crash, John P. Hussman Ph.D.)
According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock
valuations) on Friday (December 27) morning was 18.98, which is
astronomical by historic standards, indicating that stocks are far
overpriced, and the stock market bubble is worse than ever.
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