While the rest of the world plays Realpolitik America wallows in with it’s HR-izational, least qualified man in the room, racial hire the rest of the world is eating out lunch. YAY! We ticked the African-American Box! We are soooo virtuous!
Back in the day, when real qualified men ran the joint, we would have propped up Assad versus ISIS and done other things that are in our national interest. However, our racial hire is bringing down our organization. It’s funny, I watched the same thing happen at a former management job I had years ago. Budgets go out the window, debt is pilled up and the organization becomes weaker vis-a-vis the competition…but the Racial Hire box got ticked!
Taking the podium as the morning’s second speaker (after Brazilian president Dilma Roussef), Barack Obama described a turbulent world, balanced precariously between stability and chaos. At this critical juncture, the nations of the world had a choice to make. Would they rededicate themselves to the principles upon which the United Nations was founded seventy years ago, seeking shared security, prosperity, and human dignity through international cooperation? Or would they follow the siren song of those who still believe that “might makes right,” both at home and abroad? Implicitly referring to Russia and China, the President Obama castigated oppressive regimes that seek the illusory order of tyranny, the “strongmen” who refuse to trust their people, who seek vainly to strangle the idea of freedom, and by their actions simply spark the “revolutions of tomorrow.” Abroad, those same governments too often abandon the international rule of law for the law of the jungle, ignoring that power politics inevitably backfires in an “integrated world.” Consider, for example, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, which had brought such economic pain (in the form of sanctions) to Russia itself. How much better would Russia have fared, the president asked, had it simply pursued its goals through diplomatic means? Not for the first time, Obama seemed genuinely perplexed that Putin-or any other world leader-would regard realpolitik as a legitimate form of statecraft, rather than an atavism no longer appropriate in a world of shared transnational threats like climate change, Ebola, and uncontrolled migration.
The problem, of course, is that Putin never got the memo that power politics is obsolete. In recent days the Obama administration has repeatedly warned that Russia’s use of the UN Security Council (UNSC) veto in Syria threatens the credibility of that body. In his own speech from the UN podium, Putin reminded listeners that the postwar international order agreed at Yalta was founded explicitly on big power privilege. Each of the five permanent members (the P5) was endowed with a veto precisely to prevent a subset of the P5 from using the UNSC’s enforcement power contrary to the will of one of its members. Putin also suggested that the United Nations should think long and hard before undermining or infringing upon state sovereignty through military interventions or the “export” of democratic revolutions. As evidence, one need look no further than the Middle East and North Africa. According to Putin, “instead of the triumph of democracy and progress we got violence, poverty and a social disaster,” as outside interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria had created “power vacuums” filled by “extremists and terrorists,” most notably the Islamic State. Implicitly addressing the West, he asked: “Those who have caused this situation: Do you realize now what you have done?” Rather than continuing down this path, the time had come for the international community to form “a broad international coalition against terrorism,” akin to the one that defeated Hitler seventy years ago. The government of Syria, he insisted, must be part of this coalition against the Islamic State.
Putin’s realpolitik was also on display in his discussion of the Ukraine conflict (a topic that caused the Ukrainian delegation to the UN to walk out). It was NATO’s expansion into the post-Soviet space, he claimed, had created a “logic of confrontation” between “West” and “East.” Indeed, he implied, the West had engineered the coup against Yanukovich that set off Ukraine’s turmoil, seeking to force its exclusive alignment with the West. This was clearly too much for Moscow. As he made clear in his 60 minutes interview with Charlie Rose on Sunday evening, Putin is determined to protect the rights of the twenty-five million Russian compatriots that the collapse of the Soviet Union left outside of Russia’s borders. In sum, Russia will insist upon some degree of sphere of influence over its “near abroad.”
Debt and destroyed power is the legacy of this racial hire President.