Belmont Club

Debasing Diplomacy

The Washington Post reports that “international negotiators rushed to eastern Ukraine on Saturday to seek the release of European military monitors who were captured Friday and promptly branded “spies” by the pro-Russia militia that seized them.” One set of representatives being rescued by another. We can only hope the negotiators don’t join the monitors in the calaboose.

The dominating sound of the last few days has been one of phone jacks being unplugged. The Daily Beast says “Putin Halts All Talks With White House”, a move to which Obama responded by vowing to talk even more loudly. The LA Times headline screams it out: “Obama counsels diplomacy in dealing with Russia, China, North Korea”. The article said, “his explicit message throughout has been about using diplomatic tools to respond to threats from Russia, China and North Korea.”

Don’t you want to listen to me Vladimir? There was a time everyone wanted to listen to me.

What Obama doesn’t realize is that his inept statecraft has undermined diplomacy itself. It’s been debased by drawing meaningless Red Lines, raising trivial politically correct gay rights issues and offering solutions that nobody on either side wants — but which are popular with the domestic Democratic constituency.

Asked about the Middle East Peace process Obama said that ‘he isn’t yet ready to throw in the towel’. That would make him the only man left on the field.

Even the New York Times has to catch itself and turn up the writing to transform patent failure into a sermon about the burdens of the world’s sole superpower. It writes:

The president’s long-delayed trip to Asia failed to yield a trade deal with Japan and ran up against a new threat from North Korea, while both the Middle East peace process and a tentative agreement on Ukraine foundered in acrimony.

It was tempting to seek a unifying theory for the limitations on President Obama’s ability to impose a Pax Americana on an unruly world, but the less satisfying reality was that disparate geopolitical shifts around the world were similar only in their stubborn resistance to the threats and blandishments of the solo superpower.

That’s a nice way to put: “Enemy 4, Obama 0”.

Intellectually, however, they must know the game is over. Can they doubt in their inner thoughts that ‘smart diplomacy’ is dead, the Cold War is back; that the dreamed of world without nuclear weapons is now a cruel joke, Iran will get the bomb, Syria’s Assad will beat down the rebels — why even Tony Blair admits the ophthalmologist of Damascus will remain president.

NBC News banners “North Korea Preps for Nuclear Weapons Test While Obama on Asian Tour”.  The NYT could not help but notice the deliberately insulting manner with which Obama was greeted.

To ensure that Mr. Obama knew his journey was being closely monitored from Beijing, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua fired a scathing shot across his bow on Wednesday, the day he arrived in Japan.

The agency upbraided the United States for seeking to “cage the rapidly developing Asian giant” and continued, “While the outer layer of Washington’s logic indicates an adaptable and farsighted global colossus, the inner layer betrays a sclerotic and myopic superpower trapped by recent history in a confrontational mind-set and blinded by outmoded realism to China’s peaceful orientation.”

It seemed a curious way to demonstrate “peaceful orientation,” and was probably intended more for domestic audiences in anticipation of Mr. Obama’s taking the side of Japan and the Philippines in disputes over islands and waters in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. That Mr. Obama did, but cautiously. While declaring that the United States was obligated by treaty to protect Japan, he also stressed that it did not “take a position on final sovereignty.”

It’s hard to keep characterizing these insults as the stings of gnats. Not when the gnat is China.  The phrase “it seemed a curious way to demonstrate ‘peaceful orientation'” might have been satire. The manifest contempt with which Obama and his representatives are treated: monitors kidnapped, phones slammed in his ear, nuclear tests scheduled to punctuate his arrival; chemical weapons being used on civilians by an Assad who promised him not to use them are all nails in the coffin of diplomacy.

They’ve tuned out. Nobody’s listening except perhaps guys like Bill Maher, who still attempts to maintain a pretense of intellectual superiority by arguing the president’s critics “never say quite what Obama should do. If you’re not suggesting we should go to war or send troops, what are you saying?”

Nobody’s saying that. Even a doofus can come up with alternatives to “all talk all the time”. How about 1) approving the Keyston XL pipeline; 2) drilling for American natural gas; 3) getting American troops out from under the dependency of Russian supply lines; 4) and terminating the meaningless negotiations with Iran and Syria? None of these are Maher’s strawman of war. The ‘ignorant conservative’ is a figment of their imagination. Marco Rubio actually proposed drilling and Anne Marie Slaughter, who was in Obama’s state department, actually argues Obama should bomb Syria to get Putin’s attention.

Who’s the warmonger now?

The squirming evasions of the NYT and Bill Maher, though sad by themselves, indicate something more important. They are the last attempts to deny the obvious. The political elites of the West have fundamentally miscalculated the way the world works.  They’ve bet the farm on the Lightworker and lost.

And like a person who’s lost his shirt, a creeping discomfort is replacing the previous exultation, born of his supporters’ ‘certainty’ in victory. First comes the denial, replaced by rage until finally all you have left is the problem walking 15 miles back to the hotel now there’s no shuttle bus fare left.

For all their bluster his supporters know Obama won’t lower the oceans, though he may bury America in a sea of debt.  They know Brussels isn’t the superpower it pretends to be, just a collection of self-important and overpaid bureaucrats.  They can see the world is not bound for an era of peace but lucky to escape a major international war.

All we need is a spark in the east and it’s 1941 all over again. How far to that hotel did they say?

The question that asks itself is how did this happen? How did we blow the stash, why did things go so spectacularly wrong, from the Fall of the Berlin Wall to the crisis in Ukraine?

To find the explanation we should look to Barack Obama, not the man, but to the things Barack Obama represented. He embodied belief in the omnipotence of government; the notion that you could print and regulate your way to an earthly paradise even if you had to invent an invasion of outer space aliens to explain it.

He represented the triumph of a moral nihilism, a world in which the transgender family that made yearly pilgrimages to the abortion clinic was official piety. Obama symbolized the triumph of style over reality, where nothing mattered except whether you could sell a lie to gain a permanent majority.  And for that the West threw aside its founding principles, discarded its ancient moral codes and embraced the Moment. Now the Moment is biting back.

It was all going to work out and now …  15 miles back to the hotel in tight shoes.

Perhaps the West may realize the ancient warning was true. The devil’s real. And when he comes for men drunk with vanity and Sure Things, the Great Malice will not arrive with horns and a tail but decked out as everything they’ve ever dreamed of.  Why not, when tragedy can be played by Dom Deluise.

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