I heard the "leader of the free world" on the radio this morning speaking from the White House on Russia's annexation of the Crimea. President Obama's big thought was about the "choices that the Russian government has made". It was delivered in the condescending tone of a grade-school guidance counselor lecturing Little Vladdy on the "bad choices" he kept making, and what's more "choices that have been rejected by..." Stand well back! "...the international community".
Other than that, the President announced he was imposing "sanctions" for more individuals in the Russian government thinking of visiting Disneyland or opening a savings account with the First National Bank of Dead Cactus Junction. If you're one of those so named and your wife's hassling you for a weekend of shopping on Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive, tough: Obama's put you on the No-Shop list. For anybody in the Kremlin who still bothers watching US government press conferences, the only real danger from American "pressure" is that you may die laughing.
Daniel Henninger begins his Wall Street Journal column this week as follows:
By the time the second World Trade Center tower collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, the whole world was watching it. We may assume that Vladimir Putin was watching. Mr. Putin, a quick calculator of political realities, would see that someone was going to get hit for this, and hit hard.
He was right of course. The Bush presidency became a war presidency that day, and it pounded and pursued the Islamic fundamentalists of al Qaeda without let-up or apology.
During that time, it was reported that Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer in East Germany, deeply regretted the fall of the Soviet Union's empire and despised the Americans who caused it to fall. But no one cared what Mr. Putin thought then.
That's true. A couple of days after September 11th, the Bush Administration called Moscow and demanded the Russians agree to letting the US use military bases in former Soviet Central Asia for their planned invasion of Afghanistan. That must have been quite a phone call. Washington was proposing not only to do to the Afghans what the Kremlin has so abysmally failed to do, but to do it out of the Russians' old bases. And yet Moscow understood that, for once, America was serious. And so, presented with a fait accomplis, they agreed to it.
Thirteen years later? Daniel Henninger again:
Sometimes world affairs go off the grid. Diplomats may give reasons why it is not in the interests of Mr. Putin or Russia to take this course. Vice President Biden told the Poles in Warsaw Monday that Mr. Putin's seizure of Crimea was "flawed logic." It is difficult for men embedded in a world of rational affairs to come to grips with Mr. Putin's point of view: He doesn't care what they think.
Indeed. He only cares what they do. And everything Obama does confirms to Putin that the Crimea is his. And, if that's the case, why stop there?
So Putin will march on, reassembling the Russian Empire, while the Obama Administration pursues its own foreign policy priorities:
Secretary Kerry: U.S. To Send Scientists To Discuss Homosexuality With Ugandan President
That's from a State Department "town hall meeting" with John Kerry moderated by Buzzfeed's foreign affairs editor, who asked him about Uganda's "anti-LGBT" policies. The Secretary of State has been in touch with Mr Museveni:
"He committed to meet with some of our experts so that we could engage him in a dialogue as to why what he did could not be based on any kind of science or fact, which is what he was alleging," Kerry said. "He welcomed that and said that he was happy to receive them and we can engage in that kind of conversation."
The Secretary calls this a "tailored approach" to foreign affairs. Certainly, many African leaders are not partial to the LGBT crowd. I gave a quick survey of the scene a few years ago:
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, who's accused Tony Blair of a plan to impose homosexuality throughout the Commonwealth; or Kenya's Daniel arap Moi, who attacked the "gay scourge" sweeping Africa; or Zambia's Frederick Chiluba, who has said gays do not have "a right to be abnormal"; or Namibia's Sam Nujoma, who accused African homosexuals of being closet "Europeans" trying to destroy his country through the spread of "gayism"; or Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, who proposed the arrest of all homosexuals, though he subsequently moderated his position and called for a return to the good old days when "these few individuals were either ignored or speared and killed by their parents".
So, if you're dispatching a team of fully credentialed experts from the Department of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Gender Fluidity Studies at Princeton to meet with Mr Museveni, make sure he's sheathed the spears in the umbrella stand on the far side of the office.
Thus, American foreign policy of the higher consciousness: no gunboat diplomacy, just gayboat diplomacy.
And even then the world gets that Washington's not serious. Do you think John Kerry's going to be dispatching an official delegaytion to Iran, where they hang homosexuals rather than merely imprisoning them (as Mr Museveni proposes), or to Taliban-controlled parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where homosexuals are executed by being being crushed under a purpose-built wall, or to Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Yemen, Sudan and the zillion other parts of the Muslim world where homosexuality is punishable by death? What about Iraq, where outside the "Green Zone" gays are seized, genitally mutilated, and have their rectums sealed by glue? Or does the fabulously "tailored approach" (as Rush pointed out yesterday) only extend to places that are 84 per cent Christian?
So, while Putin, the mullahs, and the Chinese Politburo enjoy the run of the planet, US foreign policy is, as those kids who make "bad choices" like to say, "totally gay".