The results of the latest national elections in Hungary on April 6, 2014, proved that history in this ancient land of the Magyars only moves in one direction, namely, backwards. Nowhere in central and eastern Europe are the legacies of the painful defeats of two world wars, the idiotic governance of Miklos Horthy, the catastrophic alliance with Nazi Germany, and the destructive communist dictatorship so unresolved as in this country. For this reason, Hungary unites the three sicknesses that obstruct the future; confused submersion under the nation’s bloody history, desperation about the perceived individual and collective hopelessness, and an all-consuming hatred that is being released spontaneously as well as systematically, in the form of chauvinism, xenophobia, and sheer materialistic envy. [Read more...]
President Barack Obama’s foreign policy approval rating continues to drop as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine remains unresolved, CBS News reports.
Just 36 percent of Americans polled approve of Obama’s foreign policy overall. This compares to the 39 percent approval rating he received just last month.
Forty-six percent of those polled disapprove of how Obama is handling the situation between Russia and Ukraine. Thirty-eight percent approve. [Read more...]
by Peter Roff
If America had a robust foreign policy, “the crisis in the Crimea” might never have come to pass. If America had a strong president, someone the world regarded as capable and decisive, Russian President Vladimir Putin might have thought twice about sending troops into the region with orders to make it officially a part of the Russian Federation once again.
Unfortunately, America at the moment has neither. Instead, a weak and feckless president who has chosen to surround himself with an ideological and inexperienced national security team is standing by, hands in pockets, because there is likely nothing the United States can do to change the outcome.
A strong president, a Jack Kennedy or a Ronald Reagan — someone who had command of the nation’s policymaking machine and a clear worldview that involved America as the guardian of world freedom against a dark, evil, expansionist regime in Moscow — would have already committed to a series of steps designed to demonstrate the seriousness of America, speaking on behalf of the western world, to recent events. [Read more...]
On February 23, five days before Russia invaded Ukraine, National Security Adviser Susan Rice appeared on Meet the Press and shrugged off suggestions that Russia was preparing any kind of military intervention: “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence returned and the situation escalate.” A return to a “Cold War construct” isn’t necessary, Rice insisted, because such thinking “is long out of date” and “doesn’t reflect the realities of the 21st century.” Even if Vladimir Putin sees the world this way, Rice argued, it is “not in the United States’ interests” to do so.
It was a remarkably transparent case of pretending the world is what we wish it to be, rather than seeing it as it is.
On February 28, Russian troops poured into Ukraine. As they did, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart. Kerry briefed reporters after their talk, plainly unaware of the developments on the ground. Kerry said that Russia wants to help Ukraine with its economic problems. Lavrov had told him “that they are prepared to be engaged and be involved in helping to deal with the economic transition that needs to take place at this point.” [Read more...]
Solipsism. It’s a fancy word that means that the self is the only existing reality and that the external world, including other people, are representations of one’s own self and can have no independent existence. A person who follows this philosophy may believe that others see the world as he does and will behave as he would.
It’s a quality often found in narcissists, people who greatly admire themselves — such as a presidential candidate confident that he is a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, knows more about policy than his policy directors and is a better political director than his political director.
If that sounds familiar, it’s a paraphrase of what President Obama told top political aide Patrick Gaspard in 2008, according to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza. [Read more...]
It isn’t surprising that the US and the other five powers signed a deal with Iran on Saturday. Over the past few weeks, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry made it clear that they were committed to signing a deal with Iran as quickly as possible.
And it isn’t surprising that the deal these overeager leaders signed with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism makes the world a much more dangerous place than it was before the agreement was concluded.
With the US and its allies far more eager to reach an accord with Iran on its illicit nuclear weapons program than Iran was, it was obvious from the outset that any deal ultimately reached, at least as long as these negotiating conditions remained in force, would facilitate rather than inhibit Iran’s quest to build a nuclear arsenal. And indeed, the sanctions relief that Iran has gained simply by signing on the dotted line will be sufficient to buffet the Iranian economy through a successful nuclear weapons test. [Read more...]
by John Bolton
Negotiations for an “interim” arrangement over Iran’s nuclear weapons program finally succeeded this past weekend, as Security Council foreign ministers (plus Germany) flew to Geneva to meet their Iranian counterpart. After raising expectations of a deal by first convening on November 8-10, it would have been beyond humiliating to gather again without result. So agreement was struck despite solemn incantations earlier that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”
This interim agreement is badly skewed from America’s perspective. Iran retains its full capacity to enrich uranium, thus abandoning a decade of Western insistence and Security Council resolutions that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Allowing Iran to continue enriching, and despite modest (indeed, utterly inadequate) measures to prevent it from increasing its enriched-uranium stockpiles and its overall nuclear infrastructure, lays the predicate for Iran fully enjoying its “right” to enrichment in any “final” agreement. Indeed, the interim agreement itself acknowledges that a “comprehensive solution” will “involve a mutually defined enrichment program.” This is not, as the Obama administration leaked before the deal became public, a “compromise” on Iran’s claimed “right” to enrichment. This is abject surrender by the United States. [Read more...]
Throughout their convoluted and bloody history, Hungarians never marshaled the courage to look reality in the eye and graduate from their kindergarten-mentality to adulthood. Devoid of the ability to think historically, national leaders always elected to reject the promise of the future for the sake of the tried certainty of the past. Thus Hungary was always a country in transition between regressive authoritarianism and an even more dangerous form of bureaucratic dehumanization built on the emotions of greed, class hatred and abject immorality.
Real democracy never existed in Hungary. It remained a poor feudal society until the union with Austria in 1867. Yet, even after 1867, a miniscule number of noblemen managed to sabotage progress and thus prevented the emergence of a sizeable middle class. The reign of Miklos Horthy between the two World Wars was characterized by chaos and confusion. Politically, its condition was totally unhealthy. [Read more...]
by Mark Steyn
For generations, eminent New York Times wordsmiths have swooned over foreign strongmen, from Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer-winning paeans to the Stalinist utopia to Thomas L. Friedman’s more recent effusions to the “enlightened” Chinese Politburo. So it was inevitable that the cash-strapped Times would eventually figure it might as well eliminate the middle man and hire the enlightened strongman direct. Hence Vladimir Putin’s impressive debut on the op-ed page this week.
It pains me to have to say that the versatile Vlad makes a much better columnist than I’d be a KGB torturer. His “plea for caution” was an exquisitely masterful parody of liberal bromides far better than most of the Times’ in-house writers can produce these days. He talked up the U.N. and international law, was alarmed by U.S. military intervention, and worried that America was no longer seen as “a model of democracy” but instead as erratic cowboys “cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us.’” He warned against chest-thumping about “American exceptionalism,” pointing out that, just like America’s grade-school classrooms, in the international community everyone is exceptional in his own way. [Read more...]
Why are we even talking about taking military action in Syria? What is that military action supposed to accomplish? And what is the probability that it will in fact accomplish whatever that unknown goal might be?
What is painfully clear from President Obama’s actions, inactions and delays is that he is more or less playing it by ear, as to what specifically he is going to do, and when. He is telling us more about what he is not going to do — that he will not put “boots on the ground,” for example — than about what he will do.
All this is happening a year after issuing an ultimatum to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria against the use of chemical or biological weapons. When the President of the United States issues an ultimatum to another sovereign nation, he should know in advance what he is going to do if that ultimatum is rejected. [Read more...]
Do congressional Republicans face an impossible choice between being politically used or undermining U.S. prestige in the Mideast? The corner that President Obama has trapped them in is just an illusion.
The most important fact about the president’s decision to ask Congress’ permission before striking Syria is that it is 100% political.
Even the American Enterprise Institute’s hawkish Marc Thiessen warned that Obama’s limited strikes “will likely fail, and he wants Congress on the hook so that Republicans cannot criticize his Syria policy when it implodes.” Therefore, “Republicans should not take the bait” by voting yes.
As former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton told Fox News, the charge that “it’ll cause a huge blow to America’s credibility if Congress doesn’t approve the use of force” begs the question: “a huge blow to America’s credibility compared to what? Compared to the mess the president’s already made of it?” [Read more...]
One of the things we were promised back in the 2008 election campaign was that under a Democratic administration America would be better liked and more influential in the world. Forget those dumb cowboys in the Bush/Cheney administration whose brash style grated on foreign sensibilities: Smooth, Europhile Democrats would win over the world, ushering in an era of peace and good feeling.
So, as Sarah Palin might say, how’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?
Not so great, as it turns out. Things got off on the wrong foot right away with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s botched “reset” with Russia — even the “reset button” was improperly labeled, owing to a translation error that substituted the Russian word for “overcharge.” [Read more...]
But what is this really going to accomplish?
A White House spokesman made it clear Tuesday that a response was not intended to be about regime change, so Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has little to fear. He’s still going to call the shots after U.S. warships leave the region.
Not that we think it’s the business of the U.S. to become involved in Syria’s internal conflict. That could very easily lead to an unpopular, deeper engagement with an uncertain outcome. [Read more...]
On the subject of Egypt: Is it the U.S. government’s purpose merely to cop an attitude? Or does it also intend to have a policy?
An attitude “deplores the violence” and postpones a military exercise, as President Obama did from Martha’s Vineyard the other day. An attitude sternly informs the Egyptian military, as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) did, that it is “taking Egypt down a dark path, one that the United States cannot and should not travel with them.” An attitude calls for the suspension of U.S. aid to Egypt, as everyone from Rand Paul (R., Ky.) to Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) has.
An attitude is a gorgeous thing. It is a vanity accountable to a conscience. But an attitude has no answer for what the U.S. does with or about Egypt once the finger has been wagged and the aid withdrawn. [Read more...]
President Obama’s decision to cancel his planned trip to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin was the right thing to do in light of Russia’s decision to grant asylum to Edward Snowden. But it also illustrates problems of the president’s own making.
One of Obama’s chief aims upon assuming office was to remake America’s image in the world’s eyes. And he has — but not in the way he imagined. [Read more...]
It’s official: President Barack Obama showed President Vladimir Putin his tough side by canceling out of the bilateral summit in Moscow. In yet another of those carefully calibrated messages the “realists” in the White House commend themselves for sending, the leader of the Free World will not give Russia’s leader the benefit of His Grace one-on-one (oh, but he’ll still participate in the St. Petersburg G-20 summit).
What a bold move. Except for the fact that Putin has little to gain from a bilateral summit with the United States just now. [Read more...]
NEWT GINGRICH: The Republican Party needs a debate on national security. The strategy we’ve followed over the last 10 years did not work. In the end, Iraq is a disaster, Iran is stronger than it was a decade ago. The fact is that Afghanistan’s going to turn out to be a disaster. Pakistan is in greater danger than it was 10 years ago. If you look at the number of prison breaks in the last 30 days: In Libya, over a thousand people. In Iraq, two major prisons, over 500 people. In Pakistan, I think over 350 people. These are all al-Qaeda operatives, and I think anybody who doesn’t believe this has consequences is very foolish. Nobody in our party’s had the courage to say — and Rand Paul’s come the closest, I think partially because of his father’s background, but partially because he doesn’t have an emotional investment in the old order. Republicans have a real obligation to ask themselves the question, aren’t there some pretty painful lessons to learn from the last 10 or 12 years? Don’t we have to confront the reality that this didn’t work as a strategy? Which is not to say that Obama’s right, and it’s not to say that Rand Paul is right. [Read more...]
The well-established tendency in Washington DC since the so-called “Khomeini Revolution” of 1979 to look for positive signs of change in the political ideology of the theocratic regime is hindering, not strengthening, the United States’ ability to devise a coherent strategy vis-à-vis Iran’s regional and global ambitions. Even worse, as Tehran is preparing to complete the presidential transition from the evil-clown, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to the smiling cleric, Hassan Rohani, who promised during his campaign to focus on the economy and improve Iran’s international standing, the United States and the rest of the world are getting a false sense of hope, relying on wishful thinking rather than preparing proper policies themselves. [Read more...]