Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Patrick J. Buchanan on Putin Speech

Our new secretary of defense, Roberts Gates, seems familiar with the verse, for his handling of Saturday's wintry blast from Vladimir Putin at the Munich security conference was masterful.

"As an old Cold Warrior, one of yesterday's speeches almost filled me with nostalgia for a less complex time," said Gates, adding, "Almost." A former director of the CIA, Gates went on to identify with Putin: "I have, like your second speaker yesterday ... a career in the spy business. And I guess old spies have a habit of blunt speaking.

"However, I have been to re-education camp, spending the last four and a half years as a university president and dealing with faculty. And as more than a few university presidents have learned in recent years, when it comes to faculty it is either 'be nice' or 'be gone.'"

Gates added he would be going to Moscow to talk with the old KGB hand, who will be retiring as Russia's president around the time President Bush goes home to Crawford. Excellent.

For one of the historic blunders of this administration has been to antagonize and alienate Russia, the winning of whose friendship was a signal achievement of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. And one of the foreign policy imperatives of this nation is for statesmanship to repair the damage.

What did we do to antagonize Russia?

When the Cold War ended, we seized upon our "unipolar moment" as the lone superpower to seek geopolitical advantage at Russia's expense.

Though the Red Army had picked up and gone home from Eastern Europe voluntarily, and Moscow felt it had an understanding we would not move NATO eastward, we exploited our moment. Not only did we bring Poland into NATO, we brought in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and virtually the whole Warsaw Pact, planting NATO right on Mother Russia's front porch. Now, there is a scheme afoot to bring in Ukraine and Georgia in the Caucasus, the birthplace of Stalin.

Second, America backed a pipeline to deliver Caspian Sea oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey, to bypass Russia.

Third, though Putin gave us a green light to use bases in the old Soviet republics for the liberation of Afghanistan, we now seem hellbent on making those bases in Central Asia permanent.

Fourth, though Bush sold missile defense as directed at rogue states like North Korea, we now learn we are going to put anti-missile systems into Eastern Europe. And against whom are they directed?

Fifth, through the National Endowment for Democracy, its GOP and Democratic auxiliaries, and tax-exempt think tanks, foundations and "human rights" institutes such as Freedom House, headed by ex-CIA director James Woolsey, we have been fomenting regime change in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics and Russia herself.

U.S.-backed revolutions have succeeded in Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia, but failed in Belarus. Moscow has now legislated restrictions on the foreign agencies that it sees, not without justification, as subversive of pro-Moscow regimes.

Sixth, America conducted 78 days of bombing of Serbia for the crime of fighting to hold on to her rebellious province, Kosovo, and for refusing to grant NATO marching rights through her territory to take over that province. Mother Russia has always had a maternal interest in the Orthodox states of the Balkans.

These are Putin's grievances. Does he not have a small point?

Joe Lieberman denounced Putin's "Cold War rhetoric." But have we not been taking what cannot unfairly be labeled Cold War actions?

How would we react if China today brought Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela into a military alliance, convinced Mexico to sell oil to Beijing and bypass the United States, and began meddling in the affairs of Central America and Caribbean countries to effect the electoral defeat of regimes friendly to the United States? How would we react to a Russian move to put anti-missile missiles on Greenland?

Gates says we have been through one Cold War and do not want another. But it is not Moscow moving a military alliance right up to our borders or building bases and planting anti-missile systems in our front and back yards.

Why are we doing this? This country is not going to go to war with Russia over Estonia. With our Army "breaking" from two insurgencies, how would we fight? By bombing Moscow and St. Petersburg?

Just as we deluded ourselves into believing this war would be a "cakewalk," that democracy would break out across the Middle East, that we would be beloved in Baghdad, so America today has undertaken commitments, dating to the Cold War and since, we do not remotely have the resources or will to fulfill. We are living in a world of self-delusion.

Somewhere in this presidential campaign, someone has to bring us back to earth. The halcyon days of American Empire are over.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Thirty-Six Sure-Fire Signs That Your Empire Is Crumbling

So. You’ve built yourself an empire, eh?

Well, bully for you!

What’s next, you ask? Well, now you’ve got to do what everybody does when they have an empire, of course. You’ve got to worry about it falling apart, mate!

But how to tell for sure? Let me see if I can be helpful. Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind, thirty-six sure-fire indicators that your empire is falling apart:

You know your empire’s crumbling when the folks who are gearing up their empire to replace yours start blowing up satellites in space. And then they don’t bother to return your phone calls when you ring up to ask why.

You know your empire’s crumbling when those same folks are cutting deals left, right and center across Asia, Latin America and Africa, while you, your lousy terms, and your arrogant attitude are no longer welcome.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you’re spending your grandchildren’s money like a drunken sailor, and letting your soon-to-be rivals finance your little splurge (i.e., letting them own your country).

You know your empire’s crumbling when it’s considered an achievement to pretend that you’ve halved the rate at which you’re adding to the massive mountain of debt you’ve already accumulated.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you weaken your currency until it looks as anemic as a Paris runway model, and you’re still setting record trade deficits. (Hint: Because you’re not making anything anymore.)

You know your empire’s crumbling when “the little brown ones” (thank you George H.W. Bush – certainly not me – for that lovely expression) in country after country of “your backyard” blow you off and proudly elect anti-imperialist leftist governments.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you can’t topple those governments and replace them with nice puppet regimes – like in the good old days – even if you wanted to. And you badly want to.

You know your empire’s crumbling when one of their leaders comes to the United Nations and makes fun of your emperor, calling him the devil, and joking about smelling sulphur where he just stood. And though a few folks cringe, everybody laughs.

You know your empire’s crumbling when just about your entire military land force is tied up in a worse-than-useless war launched on the basis of complete fabrications, that every day is actually making you less – not more – secure from external threat.

You know your empire’s crumbling when almost half the soldiers in that war are high-paid mercenaries, and you don’t dare institute a draft.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you send soldiers into war with two weeks training and a lack of armor, and then you keep them there for three, four and five rotations.

You know your empire’s crumbling when a member of the Axis of Evil can test missiles and explode nuclear warheads, and all you can do about it is mumble some pathetic warnings about how they better not do that again or there will be consequences.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you even think that there is an Axis of Evil.

You know your empire’s crumbling when a rag-tag military hodge-podge of irregulars has you pinned down in an endless fight you can’t win, but also can’t lose.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you’re too dumb to even ban Humvees as a first step toward ending your dependency on a foreign-owned crucial resource.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you trade your prior moral leadership on human rights issues for global disgust at your torture, ‘extraordinary rendition’ (a.k.a. kidnaping for torture) and the dismantling of nine centuries worth of civil liberties progress.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you blow off international law that you once helped create, and undermine the institutions of international governance that you once helped build.

You know your empire’s crumbling when opinion polls confirm that every month you’re more and more despised throughout the world.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you can’t even pull off the hanging of a tin-pot murderous former dictator without turning him into a hero.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you’re the richest country in the world, but nearly 50 million of your people don’t have basic health care coverage.

You know your empire’s crumbling when the World Health Organization ranks your healthcare system 37th ‘best’ in the world, just above Slovenia, and just below Costa Rica. (And far below Colombia, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.)

You know your empire’s crumbling when instead of making it easier for citizens to obtain a higher education, you’re making it harder and more expensive.

You know your empire’s crumbling when your government gives tax breaks to industries as a reward for exporting your jobs elsewhere.

You know your empire’s crumbling when the so-called ‘opposition’ party can’t even turn that obscenity into a viable campaign theme and use it to clobber the worst emperor in your history.

You know your empire’s crumbling when your middle class has been stagnant for three decades, while the wealth of the hyper-rich continues to climb through the roof.

You know your empire’s crumbling when your reaction to that is to exacerbate the problem by enacting tax policies that massively increase further still the gap between the rich and the rest.

You know your empire’s crumbling when the predatory class has taken over your government and is stripping the country of everything not bolted down to the floor. And then it sells the floor itself, as well, to your rivals.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you’re spending tens of billions of dollars you don’t own on new nuclear warheads and space weapons that don’t work, to be used against an enemy you don’t have.

You know your empire’s crumbling when one of your cities drowns and your government does next to nothing before, during and after.

You know your empire’s crumbling when a massive environmental nightmare is looming around the corner, and your emperor not only ignores it, but claims it isn’t real while taking steps to exacerbate it.

You know your empire’s crumbling when your emperor is warned by a CIA briefer of an imminent terrorist attack of vast proportions, and responds by remaining on vacation and dismissing the briefer with the words: “All right. You've covered your ass, now.”

You know your empire’s crumbling when the same emperor drops everything to fly across the country from his vacation home in order to sign a bill intervening on the wrong side of a personal medical drama involving a single family.

You know your empire’s crumbling when gays and immigrants are used as diversionary issues to keep people from thinking about the pillaging of their country and their wallets actually taking place. And it works.

You know your empire’s crumbling when people are getting more religious and less scientific, not the other way around.

You know your empire’s crumbling when your political leaders start to be chosen by dynastic rules of succession.

And you especially know your empire’s crumbling when the most idiotic child of one of the least accomplished leaders in its history is not only crowned as the next emperor, but is even revered for a time by most of the public as a great one.

Rome? Britain? Spain?

At this rate we’ll be lucky to end up like Belgium.