We’re on our way to Spain for a few days, hoping that the spaniards have figured out a way to stop planes from crashing in Madrid and Malaga. But I didn’t want to leave before muttering a few words about the “new Cold War.”
As so often in these cases, it isn’t new and it isn’t cold. The new “challenge” comes from a strategic alliance involving Russia, Syria and Iran. You can fill in all the empty boxes: from the nuclear program(s) to the desire to be able to strangle the West by getting control over the pipelines, the yearning for the West to kneel before Zod, etc. etc.
If you look at this situation in full context, it’s immediately obvious that it’s very hot, there is a lot of fighting going on (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia) with more in the offing (Lebanon, Israel, and in all likelihood some terrorist attacks against European targets).
This comes as no surprise to readers of this blog, many of whom have seen it coming for a long time. It is what happens when you ignore Iran for thirty years, and convince yourself that Putin is really a good person. The basic rule is that if you don’t move forcefully and effectively against the smaller threats, all of a sudden you find yourself in a big mess, which is our current plight.
This is not helped at all by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announcing that we really can’t cope with threats in a “third area,” while it’s actually a single area, and we’ve got plenty of options. I don’t think Secretary Gates has been nearly as effective as he should be, and our various signals–cutting off or cutting back on shipments to Israel, for example, or failure to openly demand a fast track into NATO for Georgia and Ukraine, or moving against the terrorist training camps in Syria and Iran (the former should have been done twenty five years ago, during the Reagan presidency). A lot could, and should have been done politically, but the window for those options is closing. Failure of strategic vision has a very high price, sadly.
So I am unhappy, because the war clouds are right there, shutting down the sunlight that democratic revolution could provide, and I do not see a Western leader who has both the wit to understand it and the will to engage it.