The PJ Tatler

Putin Wakes Up the World

I had missed the Sochi closing ceremonies last week, so I watched them on tape.  Well, not quite tape, but that’s what people my age and older call it.  We’ll return to that in a moment.

In the ceremonies, the Russian Olympic Committee representative called the games the greatest ever and said the world got to see “the new face of Russia.”

This week we learned the new face of Russia looks quite a bit like the old face of Russia — paranoid, belligerent and skillful in exploiting moments of American weakness.

Back to the tape.

There’s a whole generation now that doesn’t watch things on tape, and never did.

The millennials are ill-equipped to understand the character of this new U.S.-Russian confrontation.  They don’t know much about the Cold War, except perhaps that Mikhail Gorbachev brought it to an end. They don’t know a thing about Ronald Reagan’s uncompromising crusade against the evil of Soviet totalitarianism, and if they do, they might find his moral clarity discomforting.

They don’t know much about a bishop from Krakow becoming the bishop of Rome and turning the Eastern Bloc inside out with a message of freedom of conscience and human dignity.

They don’t know much about Maggie Thatcher’s moral certainty in troubled times, despite suffering the domestic-propaganda onslaught from fellow-traveler forces inside the UK seeking a country more like the Soviet Union than “Maggie’s England,” as
Roger Waters’ dystopian description proclaimed.

Pink Floyd raises the question: Will the millennials even recognize how the culture, how music, how even ABC played such a destructive role in the Cold War?  America was fed a constant diet from Soviet apologists.  Nena’s “war machine sprang to life” just as Pershing IIs were being deployed to West Germany.  ABC scared the living hell out of children with the apocalyptic docudrama The Day After (aired in Sunday prime time no less), implying the course set by Ronald Reagan would end up with mushroom clouds sprouting up all over the nation.

And now, everyone who understood how to confront the threat of the Soviet Union can say, “I told you so, and we knew how to handle them.” Reagan, Ed Meese, John Paul II, Caspar Weinberger, Strom Thurmond, and thousands of others who shared their moral clarity. Don’t forget, Ted Kennedy was feeding information to Soviet leaders about how to confront Ronald Reagan. Some were on the wrong side of history, some were on the right.

During this era, Obama was on the wrong side.

Again, back to the tape. Now in this digital age we have a president that is not only illiterate in the history of European confrontation, but his tendencies skew toward America’s enemies. Here’s the even scarier part: Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons to Russia in exchange for an American guarantee of security.

It’s starting to feel like 1914, and unfortunately Putin seems to be holding the best hand. America is weak and has a leader who is incompetent at best, and at worst has a history of siding with America’s enemies.   Just this week, as Putin was massing force on the Ukrainian border, Jay Carney was warning Putin not to take steps that might be “misinterpreted.”  Putin listened.  The only place his moves were being misinterpreted was in the Obama White House.  Only there, in the bubble of new-age foreign policy nonsense, was there a misinterpretation.  Everyone else knew what Putin was up to, except the people we pay to know.

During the critical moments of the Cold War, Obama was authoring opinion pieces for a newspaper complaining about the deployment of Pershing II missiles. He must have been listening to Nena and watching ABC.