America is in a new Cold War. It may be undeclared, but then again, so was the Cold War itself. Many Americans mark the start of the Cold War by reference to Winston Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech on March 5, 1946, in which he stated, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” President Harry Truman was in the audience for that speech, and agreed with it wholeheartedly, despite the wide disapproval of Churchill’s message across the American media and in Congress.
Today, the tentacles of the Russian government are spreading from Syria to Ukraine, from Iran to Venezuela. And the United States refuses to acknowledge it. That doesn’t mean that the United States is in danger of total annihilation the way it was during the first Cold War. But it does mean that American interests all over the world are teetering on the brink, and dominoes are falling that will embolden our Russian geopolitical enemies.
Here are the top five reasons we’re losing the current Cold War against the Soviet-cum-Russian regime led by KGB-cum-dictator Vladimir Putin.
The Obama Administration Pretends Our Enemy Is Not Our Enemy. When Churchill talked of an iron curtain, Truman understood that the Soviet Union had turned from erstwhile-friend to the chief threat to global freedom. The same does not hold true for the Obama administration, which continues to insist, despite mounds of available evidence, that the Russians are interested in working with Western civilization.
Asked about Russia’s obvious pretentions of grandeur and desire for increased global power on Sunday, National Security Advisor Susan Rice simply ignored the question. Referring to the current struggle in Ukraine between allies of the European Union and allies of the Russian government, she engaged in this bizarre exchange with NBC’s David Gregory:
RICE: There is not an inherent contradiction, David, between a Ukraine that has longstanding historic and cultural ties to Russia and a modern Ukraine that wants to integrate more closely with Europe.”
GREGORY: But isn’t it interesting that I heard the president say, “Look, we don’t want to look at this like the Cold War.” But isn’t that how Vladimir Putin views all of this? Doesn’t he look at this sphere of influence very much in a Cold War context?
RICE: He may. But if he does, that’s a pretty dated perspective that doesn’t reflect where the people of Ukraine are coming from.
In other words, we get that Vladimir Putin thinks this is the Cold War. We’re just going to ignore that inconvenient fact and pretend he doesn’t. And this mindset pervades the Obama administration. That’s why the White House continues to insist that Russian credibility is somehow on the line in forcing the Syrian regime to give up its weapons of mass destruction, ignoring the fact that the Russians are quite content to leave Bashar Assad and his WMDs in power.
The Obama Administration Believes American Influence Should Be Minimized Throughout The World. The premise of any Cold War victory was that communist influence had to be fought, and that the influences of freedom and liberty had to be maximized across the globe. Precisely the opposite is happening under the Obama administration, which openly suggests that it is time for America to take a step back on the world stage. Immediately upon ascending to the presidency, Obama apologized for America’s muscular role in world affairs while speaking in Strasbourg, France, explaining, “America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” A few days later, speaking in Trinidad and Tobago, he stated that “at times we sought to dictate our terms.” And Obama’s policy has been a massive success from his point of view: as Norman Podhoretz put it in the Wall Street Journal, “he is bringing about a greater diminution of American power than he probably envisaged even in his wildest radical dreams.”
This explains President Obama’s constant focus on carrots rather than sticks, his incessant declarations that diplomacy without consequences is preferable to diplomacy combined with consequences. The Russians recognize that, and are predictably increasing their reach. This week, a Russian warship docked in Cuba. It has a crew of 200. No word yet on whether President Obama will authorize U2 flights over the country.
The Obama Administration Is Slashing Our Military. As reported earlier this week, the Obama administration is hell-bent on slashing our military in historic ways, changing its very capacity to make war. By 2019, our army will be at pre-World War II levels. We are prepared to cut our defense spending by 30% over the next few years.
During the Cold War, America undertook serious military cuts only once: after the election of Richard Nixon, during the Vietnam War. The result: Vietnam fell to the Communists, the Russians moved into Afghanistan, and American influence around the globe waned dramatically. No wonder the Russian defense budget is soaring – over the next three years, it is set to skyrocket 44 percent. So is the Chinese defense budget. In fact, by 2015, China will be spending more on its military than the UK, Germany and France combined.
Putin Is Wilier Than Obama. Assuming President Obama is simply naïve, there is no question that Vladimir Putin is playing him across the world. In Syria, a Russian-brokered faux deal kept the United States from acting on President Obama’s ill-considered “red line” threat against Bashar Assad’s regime; the result has been Assad’s re-entrenchment in power, and no decline in his capacity for WMD creation or use. In Iran, Russia helped broker another faux deal that would supposedly help the Iranians disarm their capacity to develop nuclear weapons – something the Iranian government has openly and repeatedly refused to do. And in Ukraine, Russian-allied forces have now stormed the government offices in Crimea and raised the Russian flag, even as the Russian military preps its jets and the Russian government reportedly shelters fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych. Putin is playing chicken. And he is waiting for Obama to blink.
The chances are good that Obama will blink, given that he is unwilling to sacrifice anything for the freedom of Ukraine. Thus far, the Obama administration has stated merely that Russian interference would be a “grave mistake.” Then again, the Obama administration warned Bashar Assad that his use of WMDs would be a “game changer.”
To be fair to the Obama administration, Putin was also wilier than the Bush administration, as he showed in Georgia as well as Iran. But that wily recognition of American unwillingness to take action has manifested in increased Russian influence in both hemispheres.
America Assumes Everyone Wants to Imitate Our Lifestyle. The notion, articulated repeatedly by George W. Bush, that “No people on earth yearn to be oppressed, or aspire to servitude,” is eminently false. Were it true, free nations would undoubtedly outnumber unfree ones. The truth is somewhat different – we can offer our way of life to people throughout the world, but they may not be interested in it. That’s particularly true in kleptocracies like Russia, where the population may want freedom, but the regime in charge may want to steal from the population – or, in fact, the population may simply want to regain pride lost during the Cold War. Polls show that mass murdering dictator Josef Stalin is enjoying renewed popularity in the mother country: a poll from 2012 found that 42 percent of Russian respondents said Stalin was the most influential historical figure. That’s up from 12 percent after the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia is not an incipient America. Pretending otherwise is ignoring reality.
So will America win this Cold War? The good news is that Russia is not truly in shape to be a global competitor. But if America continues to degrade her capabilities and ignore burgeoning global threats, the anti-American alliance will continue to grow. And the answer to that question may not be as simple as it is now.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.