Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, I would never have expected it. After all, whether they call themselves “Russians” or “Soviets” or even “eternally vigilant sentinels against the decadence of the capitalist pigs of the West” (or whatever), they’re still not exactly the guys I’d go running to in a diplomatic pinch. Their President-for-as-long-as-he-wants-so-quit-asking, Vladimir Putin, who acts like a James Bond movie villain but looks like the villain’s badass henchman, used to be the top spook at the KBG, for crying out loud. This is a guy who put a really crappy punk rock band in prison not for being really crappy, but for being political. Putin is no friend to liberty. I don’t think I’m over the line suggesting that Putin is really just Vladimir Lenin without the goatee, Josef Stalin without the mustache, Leonid Brezhnev without the eyebrows, Mikhail Gorbachev without the birthmark and even Boris Yeltsin without the drinking problem. I also don’t think I’m over the line in suggesting that Putin would love the comparisons.
When I was born, Brezhnev had the big chair in Moscow. I remember his passing; and I remember the two doddering despots who replaced him, Konstantin Chernenko and Yuri Andropov, dragging the world to the very brink of nuclear war. Indeed, during my preteen years, the United States and the Soviet Union came as close to irradiating the planet as they had since 1963. The USSR even tried to murder Pope John Paul II. But then the walls came down. Germany reunified. Most of the Warsaw Pact slave states bolted for space in NATO. We even played patty-cake with the Russian Army in the former Yugoslavia. Yet there was never a moment in which I thought it could happen.
At no point from the coldest nights of the early 80s to the brightest days of the early 90s did I ever think the world could again edge toward the brink of global disaster and that we would watch the Russian president, who is every bit the dictator his Soviet predecessors were, save the day from the brainless bumbling of the President of the United States.
On that note, welcome to the New World Order, version 2013. President Barack Obama decided to flex his muscles, picked Syria for the same reasons he opposed war in Iraq and promptly painted himself into a lonely corner. A year after issuing his now self-disavowed “red line” threat and a week after face-planting in front of the entire planet following a catastrophic war-wing failure, Obama was left watching our top allies head for higher ground. Poor President Peace Prize wanted to line up with al-Qaida’s junior varsity, and it took Vladimir bloody Putin to reel him in.
I’m done being outraged by the daily drumbeat of disgrace that has defined Obama’s occupation of the Oval Office. I just watched the supposed leader of the free world fall on his face, only to have the leader of the “less-free” world pick him up, dust him off and send him on his way. I’m not outraged. I’m mortified.
P.S.: I just watched the President’s address on Syria. If his goal was to contradict himself, lie and take credit for things with which he had nothing to do, then he succeeded in spades. If I have to account for spending 15 minutes watching the speech when my time in front of St. Peter arrives, then I am royally screwed. Maybe I can get away with Obama’s Syria speech strategy. I’ll blame former President George W. Bush.