During the long decades of the Cold War, Europe was a pawn in the Great Standoff between the two ‘superpowers’. Now there is only one hegemon, with Europe still staking its survival on the Atlantic bond. But the protector remains focused on the old enemy: the great landmass of Russia, backed by a billion and a half modernizing Chinese. The Islamic terrorists are playing footsie with Europe, while Washington’s strategists spin scenarios in beltway offices. (We no long refer to the American capital as ‘Washington’. Its agencies occupying land far and wide across the Potomac, it is now referred to as ‘the beltway’.)
I remember how those ‘best and brightest’ would sit around the policy planning offices of Carter’s State Department discussing the payloads and reach of the latest ICBM’s or whatever was current at the time, against the USSR, and I’m sure their numbers have grown exponentially across agencies that didn’t exist at the time. (A must-read article on the US military is here.)
How many Syrias will have to be destroyed before the American political class can resign itself to working with Russia against the real foe of both, putting aside Zbig’s grand plan to carve up that minerally wealthy nation, as outlined in his 1997 The Grand Chessboard?
President Obama’s speech in Havana, Cuba, two days ago, was remindful of those he gave as Presidential candidate in 2007 and 2008, echoing the tenor of his 20,000 word interview in the new Atlantic, in which he finally distanced himself from the US foreign policy establishment after almost eight years of obedience.
To an unbiased mind, these recent utterances would suggest that contrary to beltway wisdom and the media’s usual snide echoes, the worlds of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin share similar parameters: rule of law, sovereignty, democratic decision-making. Obama’s emphasis on these basic principles vis a vis Cuba also apply to Syria, while ‘sovereignty’ in particular requires the US, the EU, Russia and China, among others, to safeguard their territories from ISIS or its affiliates.
It’s so difficult to give up a tried and true enemy, that the Communist Soviet Union was able (with US help) to morph into a finance-friendly Russia, yet remain the US’s foremost adversary! The plan vis a vis China is merely to ‘contain’ it – as the Soviet Union was contained before it; but the plan vis a vis Russia, as expounded more recently in “Sbig’s Grand Chessboard and How the West Was Checkmated” starting with the Ukraine, has back-fired on Europe, conjointly with an overwhelming influx of refugees from the US’s Middle East and African wars, in which it was a willing partner.
As Europe licks its wounds from one attack after another, knowing full well – as does Washington – that it cannot nip all of them in the bud, “Putin Apologists” will be wondering how long it will take it to unfreeze the Cold War, leaving Washington with no alternative than to “rally round the flag” of common sense, and team up with all those who are threatened by a barbaric takeover.
The more I think of it, the more I see an Obama/Putin duo as the best thing that could happen to the planet. The question is, how would a lame-duck Obama gain vis a vis the US Congress the same authority that Putin enjoys vis a vis the Duma? (He can have a kill list, but not get national health care, while Raul Castro drew attention in his remarks that every Cuban baby is born in a hospital, mothers in remote regions checking in days earlier to make sure.)
Oh well, at least the Cuban gambit will have strengthened Bernie’s chances……
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.”