Saturday, August 20, 2016
Krauthammer: The price of powerlessness
This photo, grabbed from Russian Defense Ministry video footage issued Aug. 16, is said to show a Tu-22M3 long-range bomber releasing its payload above Syria after it took off from an air base in Iran. (Russian Defense Ministry
This week Russian bombers flew out of Iranian air bases to attack rebel positions in Syria. The State Department pretended not to be surprised. It should be. It should be alarmed. Iran’s intensely nationalistic revolutionary regime had never permitted foreign forces to operate from its soil. Until now.
Consider what Putin has achieved. Dealt a very weak hand — a rump Russian state, shorn of empire and saddled with a backward economy and a rusting military — he has restored Russia to great-power status. Reduced to irrelevance in the 1990s, it is now a force to be reckoned with.
And why shouldn’t he? He’s pushing on an open door. Obama still refuses to send Ukraine even defensive weapons. The administration’s response to these provocations? Urging “both sides” to exercise restraint. Both sides, mind you.
And in part because he’s convinced that in the long run it doesn’t matter. Fluctuations in great power relations are inherently ephemeral. For a man who sees a moral arc in the universe bending inexorably toward justice, calculations of raw realpolitik are 20th-century thinking — primitive, obsolete, the obsession of small minds.
At the heart of this disorder is a simple asymmetry. It is in worldview. The major revisionist powers — China, Russia and Iran — know what they want: power, territory, tribute. And they’re going after it. Barack Obama takes Ecclesiastes’ view that these are vanities, nothing but vanities.
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 3:40 AM