Belmont Club

The Nones of March

The bad news is that Vladimir Putin is invading the Ukraine. The good news is that he got the Russian parliament — whatever you may think of it — to approve his actions.  The procedural difference is telling.  Putin has not forgotten the word War, with its terrible finality and destructiveness, nor disremembered Victory. For him it is remains an awful event, serious enough to be attended by smokes and ceremonies only to be undertaken at great risk in the expectation of even greater plunder.


It has not yet become that abstract legalism that Western leaders imagine; a “kinetic military activity” to be undertaken by executive order to exercise some “responsibility to protect”; a lawfare activity, a species of police action where some nameless international lawyer deputizes the US military as a posse. That dream is shattered; replaced by the nightmare vision of the past risen from its coffin. As J. Christian Adams noted in his latest column,  if nothing else Putin woke the world up.  Barack Obama went to Sochi to see “the new face of Russia” and it is staring back through the thin window pane, as old and terrible as all mankind.

We have not reached the End of History where the only meaningful choices are between red or white wine. The risk is rather that we might become History.

Marco Rubio just wrote a piece suggesting eight steps that might be followed to contain Putin.  “This is a critical moment in world history”, he writes. But his outline lacks a critical ninth step. The United States must rebuild a rational national security policy mechanism from all major political strands to reimpose a sanity and political unity that has been missing for some time.

The Ukraine is beyond any immediate tactical help. It’s ultimate fate — as well as those of allies like Japan, Australia, Poland or Israel — depends mostly on whether America can restore itself to strategic viability. On whether it can regain its wits.


If America can find its footing all will ultimately be well. If America continues to drift, all must inevitably be lost.

Removing American troops in Afghanistan from their dependency on Russian supply routes; drilling for energy, securing the borders; rebuilding the Armed Forces and stopping the hemorrhaging of the American substance to pay for political boondoggles are a good place to start. They will have a greater effect than démarches to the UN and they do not require firing a single shot.

Obamacare needs to be recognized for what it is: a failed political monkey on the back of a nation which will in time reduce it to impotence. It is Coleman Young’s vision in a world that cares not a whit — at least Putin may not — for Coleman Young. America’s greatest strength is its productivity and its people. Now is the time to turn to the stifling bureaucratic machinery and say, “let my people go.”

A rational national security policy needs a set of strategic goals underpinned by a broad political consensus, just as the Constitution provides. It is not an Executive Affair. It is a national affair. Unless this is remembered the world will become ever more dangerous. For it was not Putin alone who destabilized the situation; an incompetent, mendacious and vain administration played its part . By its incompetence, through its cheating and by its vanity it has led the nation and the world to the brink of the abyss.


The United States has the means provided by the Constitution and the political system to rid itself of incompetent management, or at least its change its behavior. But someone has to break the spell; to finally say that the system — the Emperor — has no clothes for the recovery to begin.

The Ides of March are near, but they are not yet come. A happy ending — or an ending as happy as we can attain — can yet be salvaged. But only if we accept that to a great extent we cast ourselves into this hole. Through our vanity; our greed and above all by stupidity.  And yet we can yet make it out if we remember the first rule of digging a hole: stop digging.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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