WASHINGTON–I certainly understand why freedom-lovers around the world are upset over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent incursions into Ukraine. And I understand why the good people of Georgia, Estonia and other Democracy-minded countries take exception to this sort of Iron Curtain saber-rattling.
But I just cannot understand why it is that President Barack Obama is so upset about it.
After all, Putin understandably believes in Russian exceptionalism. “Just, as I suspect, that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism,” as Obama famously soft-pedaled an apologetic admission that he kinda, sorta believes in American exceptionalism, in a remote, former world power kind of way.
Therefore, since Russia is basically landlocked by ice for much of the year, it is only reasonable that Putin would want to seize the territory between the motherland and the Crimean Peninsula where Russia has a year-round, deepwater Naval base in the Black Sea.
Without that vital port, Putin and his beloved Russia are nothing more than a fair-weather semi-power. Like a ferocious dog on a chain that can be mercilessly taunted by children and little chihuahuas from precisely one inch past the longest length of his chain.
Under Obama’s “everybody is exceptional” geopolitical theory, Putin is not such a bad guy. He is not particularly ideological. He just really loves Russia and believes that Russia is exceptional and in this world where everybody gets a trophy, he is going to get the biggest one he can.
Then he is going to rip off his shirt, strip down to his super tight jeans and pose with it. Then he will wrestle a bear, reel in a shark on a hand line and swim to the bottom of the Black Sea and return with ancient treasures.
As America’s favorite Mama Grizzly, Sarah Palin, pointed out this week: President Obama, meanwhile, is standing there wearing his “mom jeans” talking on the telephone.
The whole problem with saying you believe in American exceptionalism – just as Putin believes in Russian exceptionalism and the Brits believe in British exceptionalism – is that it means that you do not actually believe that America is, in fact, exceptional. It is merely a delusion of exceptionalism that every citizen of every country suffers about their own country.
There is nothing special about America being the first nation established on the notion that all people are equal and subjects of no government or higher power other than God, Himself. America is no better and no worse than, say, Russia.
This sort of shallow, unstudied and pseudo-intellectual world view is what leads a president to deliver his first major address to a Muslim country and tell them it is “part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
Welcome to the Rodney King presidency. Can’t we all just get along?
But seriously, what is so bad about America publicly slashing her firepower at the Pentagon while spending five and a half years running around painting “red lines” that get laughed at and generally spreading apologetic humility across the globe?
Well, it gets you the gassing and mass slaughter of civilians and children in Syria, a nearly nuclear Iran, and vanished gains in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, allies like Israel are increasingly isolated and America has rarely, if ever, been more hated around the world. Not for flexing her power, but for shirking her responsibility to be a principled beacon of freedom around the world.
As bad as President Obama is, little comfort can be found in the people he surrounds himself with.
Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry are a trifecta of incompetence best known for flubbing virtually every major foreign policy issue of their time.
They are the Axis of Wrong.
“But it is all so hard and complicated,” you can almost hear them moaning in the White House.
Yes it is.
But no more so than 68 years ago today, when Winston Churchill travelled to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. The world was recovering from World War II. Britain and the U.S. were still deeply grateful to Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union for helping stop Hitler and end the war.
Despite his gratitude, Churchill delivered what came to be known as the “Iron Curtain” speech, sounding the alarm on the chilling and devastating designs Stalin and the Soviet Empire had for Eastern Europe for decades to come.
By any measure, Churchill was powerless at that point to stop Stalin. All he had left was the greatest weapon Churchill ever had, even in the darkest moments of the London bombing: his uncompromising principles. Without that weapon, he never would have vanquished evil fascism in Europe.