Ignoring Foreign Threats Doesn’t Make Them Go Away￼
This week’s Courier Herald column:
The eighties are on line one. They’ve been on hold for a while, but they’d like to talk about foreign policy.
Yes, that is an overt reference to President Obama’s debate retort to Mitt Romney, who had the temerity to remind us in 2012 that Russia was “our number one geopolitical foe”. President Obama, in his clap back, argued it was Al Qaida.
There have already been far too many columns written on this now decades old exchange, but for those that need a review of the one-sided press pile on, I recommend a twitter thread by Drew Holden (@DrewHolden360). In a February 22nd series of posts to social media, he documents the press continuing to dunk on Romney for being so old, tired, and out of date to think that Russia was still a threat.
While our country’s “thought leaders” have been focused on winning a 24-hour news cycle, our country’s rivals – Russia and China specifically – have been playing a long game. They each understand our obsession with the present, and even use it against us and to their own advantages.
I was in my final quarter as an undergraduate at UGA when I watched the Berlin wall come down. We declared unofficial victory in the unofficial cold war.
We named ourselves the only remaining world superpower. We spent a “peace dividend”, shrinking the size of our standing military that we had expanded throughout the eighties.
We’ve now had a couple of generations that have grown up in an America that hasn’t had a mandatory military draft, that didn’t practice air raid drills in schools, that didn’t go to bed at night wondering if the Soviet Union would launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack.
Instead, we now have a generation that practices active shooter drills in schools, and uses the National Anthem as an opportunity to display divisions rather than to unite.
We are now conditioned to view our enemies as domestic. Foreign interests that would threaten us are SO last millennium.
The former NFL player that is generally credited with popularizing the protest of the national anthem got a nice contract from Nike. Nike’s former CEO went on record during an earnings call – during a time when Nike and many other US based companies were fighting tariffs placed on Chinese imports – to state that “Nike is a brand of China, for China”.
Nike’s sponsored athletes have quite the freedom to protest actions in this country, with at least one even claiming expertise on Georgia’s recent voting law before it was even written. But ask those same athletes to weigh in on China’s human rights abuses? Suddenly their virtue signaling becomes clouded and they couldn’t possibly weigh in on such complicated issues.
It should be noted that China, not the USA, is the NBA’s largest market for viewers, with estimates from a few years ago noting it was worth more than a half billion per year.
Meanwhile, Russia has been methodically getting its USSR band back together. Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine…
While we declared victory and moved on, Russia went to work. We helped Russia get rid of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Once again, non-specific promises by the U.S. for security assistance were not the same as NATO membership. Russia knows – especially after our disastrous abandonment of Afghanistan – that our country has no stomach for a land war in Europe.
So Vladmir Putin has made a calculation. He’ll endure some short term sanctions that drive up oil prices – his country’s primary source of revenue – and he’ll wait for us to change our attention to literally anything else. It’s a speed bump on his way to restoring yet another piece of the former Soviet Union.
He’ll have China in his corner. They’ll likely be happy to purchase his oil and farm exports, and help him circumvent as many of his sanctions as possible. They know that we’re just as equally afraid China will assert control over Taiwan, when we are already fully understanding the implications of outsourcing most of our semiconductor chip business to those two countries.
Our rivals are happy to provide us checkers to occupy ourselves while they play chess. Now would be an excellent time for our leaders of both parties to outline what we must do as a nation to insulate ourselves from economic, energy, supply chain, and national security threats.
Don’t expect this to happen. Instead, both red and blue are studying their board, trying to figure out a triple jump to “king me”. That call from the 80’s is just going to have to wait a bit longer while the checkers game plays itself out.
What’s interesting is just a few years ago our leaders were on a junket to China trying to bring in as much money to Georgia as possible. I think even my esteemed Senator was checking out the bullet train but now authored SB 346 and in 2003 you have Kemp a sponsor of SR 225.
Yeah, my go-to source for sober political analysis is Drew Holden’s tweets.
I’m surprised you’re upset with 21st century capitalism. It’s just rational actors making rational choices, right?. A qb loses his day job so he gets a new gig. If a shoemaker doesn’t focus on its largest market, what does it tell its stockholders? Taiwan makes better semi-conductors than the rest of the world and at a cheaper price so we let them. Russia continues to sell their oil and gas and minerals, if not to Germans to Chinese or whoever can pay. That’s the way things are. None of it is anyone’s fault.
The world has changed since USSR fell apart but it’s still a terribly dangerous place with plenty of bad actors left. If precedence holds it’ll be even more dangerous 30 years from now so the future is what we should be concerned with. This looking-back at the past and hand-wringing about life today isn’t good enough.
My, oh my. Charlie gonna go after 2012 Obama, today’s youth, pro athletes and a shoe company.
How not surprised I am.
Bet a hundred Charlie won’t put together three words regarding MTG attending a white nationalist convention whereupon the crowd chanted, “Putin!, Putin!, Putin!” moments before she took the stage.
But those damn school kids causing trouble over the National Anthem, now there’s a headline!
Vomit leaves a better taste in my mouth than your opinions.
Rand Paul: Arrest Dr. Fauci and charge him with treason.
Charlie: Lebron is just a horrible American.
Donald Trump: “They say, ‘Trump said Putin’s smart.’ I mean, he’s taking over a country for two dollars’ worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart. He’s taking over a country — really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in,”
Charlie: That Kaepernick guy taking a knee is what’s wrong with America.
Tucker Carlson: “Why shouldn’t I root for Russian? Because I am!”
Charlie: Today’s kids are the reason we’re in this situation.
Not sure what to make of this piece.
On one hand, to begin- a whole generation is seemingly maligned: “we now have a generation that… uses the National Anthem as an opportunity to display divisions rather than to unite.”
Which generation could that be? Def too too broad of a brushstroke, and def a perspective that sees “divisions” rather than “opportunities for improvement” when even considering the method of civil speech utilized by some. Several other concerns on that same hand…
Like the authorial position on China is really unclear. Do we need to treat China as a rival only- despite all the intertwined economic markets? Are they a threat requiring all business ties to cease?
I believe and hope our national security apparatus can sufficiently keep up and match both countries on economic, political, social, humanitarian issues etc. We can also work competently on both domestic and foreign issues competently, I believe. Parties may be arguing over who gets to be Player 1, but I’m mixing game metaphors.
But we do need to be united- for democracy, liberty, freedom and opportunity. Including liberty for nonviolent civil speech and opportunity for all those in this country, and God willing we can help others how and where we can.
But this is not a call to boycott Nike or the NBA, so….
the article spends time striking tones of deafness or worse on domestic issues, rather than help unite for democracy and liberty here and abroad? That latter goal could be easily served by addressing those who, by propping up Putin, are in fact props for Putin to play with. Take those apologists and appeasers for the autocrats off the table, as well as any subtext or support for racial animus or hate on domestic issues, and maybe we’ll be left with the more competent ppl to focus on finding real solutions. Solutions to stopping the very dangerous ideas that might means right, or that instigation of war or violent political speech is acceptable.
Forgive me as I need to share another thought, which may not be an obvious perspective to some.
But when I hear Putin talk of “denazification” of Ukraine, I hear intent for antisemitic expulsion and genocide, using Jews as scapegoats in an attempt to shore up domestic hatred and fascism. “Denazification”, like so much legislative and political BS, is just a superficial label that spells the opposite of the true intent, in order to hide the true intent, and then gaslight voters.
But my family was born among Ukrainians fleeing Russian persecution and pogroms just over a hundred years ago (see below info on pogroms if you like). Just over a hundred years ago, but it seems like the same ole BS story today.
So forgive me again if I need to say that any words about Putin that are short of outright “war criminal” will be found lacking. He’s no chess player; don’t give him any credit pls. Anyone who plays a game with nuclear weapons held to other players’ heads is not playing a game, and is not exhibiting gamesmanship or anything like that.
I get that the call of the piece may be to spark ppl to pay attention, put aside pettiness and such. Great, let’s pls do that.
But let’s not even analogize that there may be any contemplative game or rules that govern war criminals. The one “calculation” which should be published front and center in every published article without fail, is how he thought he could invade and murder countless families without care of penalty.
(I know, that may sound like the same exact kind of arrogance that would lead someone to say they could just murder someone on a popular NY street without penalty—but no need to address obvious personality affinities aside for now.)
I just hope we can at least continue to unite against this bloodthirsty and violent strain of humanity.
From a couple of Wikipedia pages:
“A pogrom is a violent riot incited with the aim of massacring or expelling an ethnic or religious group, particularly Jews…. a descriptive term for 19th- and 20th-century attacks on Jews that occurred in the Russian Empire…
Significant pogroms in the Russian Empire included the Odessa pogroms, Warsaw pogrom (1881), Kishinev pogrom (1903), Kiev Pogrom (1905), and Białystok pogrom (1906). After the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, several pogroms occurred amidst the power struggles in Eastern Europe, including the Lwów pogrom (1918) and Kiev Pogroms (1919).”
“…During the Russian Revolution and the ensuing Russian Civil War, an estimated 31,071 Jews were killed during 1918–1920. During the establishment of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (1917–21), pogroms continued to be perpetrated on Ukrainian territory. In Ukraine, the number of civilian Jews killed during the period was between 35,000 and 50,000. Pogroms erupted in January 1919 in the northwest province of Volhynia and spread to many other regions of Ukraine. Massive pogroms continued until 1921. The actions of the Soviet government by 1927 led to a growing antisemitism in the area.”