Wednesday, February 11, 2015

America at a crossroads

By Perry Diaz
Pax-Americana.3When the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1989, the United States of America became the only superpower left on Earth. It was the beginning ofPax Americana — American Peace. And for more than two decades, America was the undisputed arbiter of global affairs. She rules the deep blue waters with a nuclear-armed naval force that projects American power beyond her shores and keeps the maritime trade routes open for “free trade” to prosper. She provides a nuclear umbrella for her allies. She is the unchallenged leader in a unipolar world order.
TOPSHOTS-RUSSIA-CHINA-POLITICS-DIPLOMACYBut today, the United States’ global dominance is being challenged by two emerging superpowers – Russia and China. Russia wants to rise again from the ashes of the Soviet Empire while China wants to revive the imperial glory of the Ming dynasty. Russia wants to bring back to the fold the old Soviet republics and former satellite states from Eastern Europe. China wants to establish her hegemony over the entire Asia-Pacific region and turn the South and East China Seas into a “Lake Beijing.” If that happens, it will be the first time in more than a century that the U.S. would have failed to keep the free flow of maritime traffic in international sea lanes, which begs the question: What is the U.S. doing to prevent this from happening?
In 2011, the U.S. announced that 60% of her naval forces would be deployed to Asia. This came to be known as “Pivot to Asia.” But is it enough to stop China from taking possession of the South and East China Seas?
Russian imperialism
Novorossiya-mapMeanwhile, Russia is making moves to expand her influence westward. In a land-grab operation last year, Russia fomented dissension in Crimea among her large ethnic Russian population. That led the pro-Russian separatists to hold a sham election to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. Russia then conveniently annexed Crimea, which stunned the U.S. and her NATO allies.
No sooner had Russia annexed Crimea than the unrest in East Ukraine turned into shooting war – or civil war? — between pro-Russian separatists and government forces. With Russia apparently supplying the separatists with heavy weapons and tanks – which Russia denies – the Ukrainian forces couldn’t match their firepower with antiquated Soviet-era arms. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had been begging the U.S. and her NATO allies for lethal weapons. Instead, U.S. President Barack Obama sent non-lethal supplies – blankets, bulletproof vests, MREs, and night vision goggles. But the Ukrainians cannot win the war with blankets.
Last December, the U.S. Congress passed the “Ukraine Freedom Support Act,” which Obama grudgingly signed into law. However, Obama indicated that he still wouldn’t send lethal weapons to Ukraine. He argued that it merely gives him the authority to send lethal weapons but it does not require him to. He believes that diplomacy is the way to go and that there is a good chance that peace in Ukraine can still be achieved through diplomatic negotiation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Fear of Russia?
Vladimir-Putin-and-nuclear-bombDuring a recent interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Obama said, “there are clear limits in terms of what we would do militarily.” Then he added, “To those who would suggest that we need to do more … we can exact higher and higher costs … and we can bring diplomatic pressure to bear. I don’t think that it would be wise for the United States or the world to see a actual military conflict between the United States and Russia.”
Obama presumed that sending lethal weapons to Ukraine would lead to war between Russia and the U.S. But Obama should know that Putin – like himself — is aware that a nuclear war would lead to MAD; that is, mutually assured destruction. And unless Putin was suffering from Dr. Strangelovish megalomania, he wouldn’t dare push the “Doomsday Button.” No, Vladi may have a cowardly impulse to attack Russia’s neighbors but he’s not crazy enough to watch his beloved Mother Russia perish in a nuclear holocaust.
The last time the world came close to nuclear annihilation was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 when the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy ordered a naval blockade off Cuba to prevent Russia from bringing nuclear missiles to Cuba. The blockade succeeded and the Russian ships turned back. When Mao Zedong – who called the U.S. a “paper tiger,” a term for something that seems threatening but couldn’t withstand a challenge – mocked the Soviet Union for backing down, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was reported to have said, “The paper tiger has nuclear teeth.” Indeed, for his resolute leadership at the height of the Cold War, not only did Kennedy endear himself to the American people, he earned a place among the immortals in the annals of U.S. military history.
It’s now apparent that Obama is no Kennedy. Kennedy did not flinch in the face of a nuclear threat. Obama, on the other hand, ran away from crisis to crisis, to wit: (1) His total withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2011; (2) His “leading from behind” stance during the Libyan revolution; (3) His non-action to Syria’s crossing his “red line” warning on chemical warfare; (4) His “no boots on the ground” strategy in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); (5) His inaction to Russia’s annexation of Crimea; (6) His refusal to provide weapons to the Kurdish peshmerga to fight ISIS; and (7) His refusal to send lethal weapons to Ukraine.
“Civil war”
Civil-warRecently, a White House spokesman said that the administration is “constantly looking at” whether to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons. But talks are talks. And for each day that Obama dilly-dallies, the pro-Russian rebels are gaining ground. And with Russia continuously sending heavy weapons and the “little green men” in unmarked uniforms to East Ukraine, it would just be a matter of time before Kiev falls. And then what?
It doesn’t take a military genius to figure out that Putin would not stop at Ukraine. He probably would try to finish his unfinished invasion of Georgia in 2008. Next would be Moldova, which has 1,200 Russian troops acting as “peacekeepers” in Moldova’s pro-Russian breakaway state, Transnistria. Moldova would be an easy trophy for Russia. And what’s next?
If Putin goes further west, then Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — on Russia’s border — would be easy targets. The only problem is that these three Baltic countries are members of NATO. Article 5 of the NATO charter says, “An armed attack against one shall be considered an attack against them all.” But the question is: Would NATO go to war against Russia? And does Obama have the cojones to play nuclear Russian roulette with Putin? Kennedy played it with Khrushchev 52 years ago and won. And two years later, Khrushchev was deposed from power by his communist party mates.
After a quarter century of Pax Americana, America is now at a crossroads. Obama knows that American Peace could end during his presidency if he continued with his flawed Obama Doctrine. If there is one lesson that he must learn to be an effective commander-in-chief, he should read Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address to Congress in 1951. Towards the end of his speech, the five-star general said, “War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory.” Yes, indeed.

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