Sleepwalking to Disaster

A British inquiry into how Her Majesty's Government had stumbled into the Ukraine morass found they had reached the point by slowly getting rid of anyone who knew anything about Russia.  Over the years the system ousted anyone with a grasp of the facts and replaced them with people who would utter fatuous nonsense. The result was that the British government "sleepwalked" into the Ukraine crisis.  Nobody had anticipated that Moscow would fight -- though they should have.

The EU Committee of the House of Lords found there had been a "catastrophic misreading" of mood by European diplomats in the run-up to the stand-off between Russia and the West. ...

In a damning indictment of EU diplomacy, the committee said a decline in expertise on Russia in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and other EU foreign ministries had left them ill-equipped to formulate an "authoritative response".

It said for too long the EU's relationship with Moscow had been based on the "optimistic premise" that Russia was on a trajectory to becoming a democratic country.

The result was a failure to appreciate the depth of Russian hostility when the EU opened talks which aimed at establishing an "association agreement" with Ukraine in 2013.

In a word, the Europeans drank their own Kool-Aid. The dangers of replacing reality with an artificial Narrative should be obvious by now, but they appear not to have occurred to the Obama administration.  It has recently concluded a "three-day White House conference on violent extremism" by declaring their enemies to be religious schismatics or perverts, who aren't really even religious. “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

And they have perverted Islam because they lack jobs.  And with this incisive conclusion, the summit paves the way for Obama to seek "authorization from Congress to use military force against Isis fighters in Iraq and Syria ... Some have condemned him for refusing to describe Isis as Islamic extremists."  This leaves Congress with the problem of declaring war against a nebulous somebody, though just who is not clear.

The president's call to understand the grievances of extremists may have led former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani to blurt out to an audience, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

The former mayor's remarks were greeted by a loud rending of the garments among the scribes.  "Giuliani manages to sink to new depths," wrote Steve Benen of MSNBC. The New York Times even devoted an article to question of whether Giuliani was "racist".  How dare he say that about Obama?

Forgotten in the hue and cry over etiquette was a simple burning question of whether anything the president said at his summit made sense. Whether the president loves America seems less important than whether he has taken leave of his senses or more charitably, is laboring under an immense delusion.  The truth matters.  It matters very much.  Unfortunately there are enough people who  disbelieve this; enough to "sleepwalk" into a catastrophe.

Just as the Europeans took the counsel of their wishes,  so too does the president seem to hear only the assurances of his inner circle.  The Iranians can be trusted!  The Taliban can be our partner for peace!  Assad can play a constructive role!  And jobs, only give them jobs and all will be well.  And don't forget to throw open the borders, boys!  Open 'er up while the going is good. These words would be fine from an author of fiction. But they are somewhat worrisome coming from the president of the United States.

Back in the Cold War people had more respect for the power of the office of the chief executive. In an era obsessed by the nuclear bomb, it was universally understood that the president, to borrow Winston Churchill's characterization of John Jellicoe in the First World War was "the only man who could end the existence of humanity in an afternoon."  You wanted him to be sane. You needed him to be sensible.  Because all he needed was to make one bad mistake and kablooey.

The president can still doom the human race in an afternoon, except the scribes have forgotten the fact. They've lived so long in the cocoon of Reagan's Cold War victory that they don't understand the meaning of real danger any more. That was something that happened to old white people who you might see wheeling themselves around in supermarket parking lots.  That is so yesterday.

Moderns are so conditioned to believing that the Narrative can be substituted for the facts that they don't care about the facts any more. Consequently they occupy themselves with trivial pursuit, whispering to themselves in the manner of the courtiers at Versailles over whether Monsieur Giuliani addressed the Sun King in the proper style or whether Monsieur Gowdy has a worthy haircut.  It's all about fashion trends and coolness. Yolo, dude.

And so they make clever conversation with each other, judging each other by the polished turn of phrase.  All the while the shadow comes closer. And nobody gives a hoot. The catastrophe in Eastern Europe demonstrates the folly of folly. The White House is preparing great cauldrons of Kool-Aid right now, and there are appears to be no shortage of thirsty takers ready to imbibe.

Just remember this: on the day, run.


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