August 13, 2008

“I looked into [Putin’s] eyes and got a sense of his soul.”
— President George W. Bush

“I looked into his eyes and saw three letters: a K, a G, and a B”
— Senator John McCain

“Not just in Cuba, but I think [meeting foreign leaders without precondition] applies generally. I recall what John F. Kennedy once said: We should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate.”
— Senator Barack Obama

Judge: “Your names, please, and state your professions.”
Barker: “Bernard Barker, anti-communist.”
Judge: “Anti-communist? That, sir, is not your average profession.”

— “All The President’s Men

The world is once more an interesting place these days. First of all, you have the Russian bear showing its fangs for the first time in a long while. While no one is predicting a return to the Cold War anytime soon (too bad, there were some pretty good movies made out of the fear and paranoia of those times!), why should anyone be surprised that after years of being poked and prodded by former Soviet bloc countries feeling their oats and making goo-goo eyes at NATO and the West, ol’ Vladimir is saying fuhgeddaboutit – enough is enough.

In fact, were I any country that was once part of the old Soviet Union or within the Soviet sphere of influence back in those post-WWII days, I’d be paying very close attention to my south and east right now.

Which means, of course, that in this election year, the race for the White House has suddenly become more interesting. Thus far, domestic issues have held the upper hand (rightly so), but all of a sudden the Russia-Georgia conflict has introduced more than a little foreign political reality into the race. And this will not work to Barack Obama’s advantage by any means.

Ed Morrissey, as usual, hits the nail on the head today when he (and the New York Times, believe it or not) says that history appears to have proven John McCain right when it comes to Russia:

John McCain took a lot of criticism for his hard line on Vladimir Putin’s Russia over the last few years from end-of-history believers and other optimists in the punditry. Now that McCain’s assessment of Russia has proven accurate, the New York Times recognizes that his long-held positions suddenly have a lot more credibility.

This shows why experience matters in the White House. Getting these issues wrong costs lives and risks freedom for entire nations. The strange, ahistorical, and naïve idea that talk alone — without some threat of consequences, be they economic or otherwise — can defend freedom has the charm of never having worked once in the history of human civilization. Even worse, misjudging one’s opponents on the world stage means that “engagement” without strategic insight will always redound to the benefit of the opponent.

No one wants war with Russia, but we could have and should have realized the nature of Vladimir Putin and his efforts to create a new Russian Empire years ago. We could have responded by cutting off Western financial support to Putin’s new regime when it mattered and isolated them diplomatically by inviting the free nations of Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO. John McCain wanted just that, and almost no one listened. Now, the Georgians have to pay the price for Western credulity.

Read the whole thing.

Now, let’s talk about China. Far be it from me saying I told you so, but I’ve said before that I don’t trust anything about the Chinese and their handling of the Olympics in Beijing. First you had the issue of the fake fireworks shown during the opening ceremony; now it turns out that the cute little girl who sang the Chinese national anthem was nothing but a Milli Vanilli clone lip-syncing her performance while another girl actually did the singing (my boldings):

The little girl who starred at the Olympic opening ceremony was miming and only put on stage because the real singer was not considered attractive enough, the show’s musical director has revealed.

Pigtailed Lin Miaoke was selected to appear because of her cute appearance and did not sing a note, Chen Qigang, the general music designer of the ceremony, said in an interview with a state broadcaster aired Tuesday.

“The reason why little Yang was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image, we were thinking about what was best for the nation,” Chen said in an interview that appeared briefly on the news website Sina.com before it was apparently wiped from the Internet in China.

And like Deep Throat says in “All The President’s Men”, everyone’s involved…

He said the final decision to stage the event with Lin lip-synching to another girl’s voice was taken after a senior member of China’s ruling Communist Party politburo attended a rehearsal.

“He told us there was a problem that we needed to fix it, so we did,” he said, without disclosing further details of the order.

The ceremony directed by China’s Oscar-nominated filmmaker Zhang Yimou and featuring more than 15,000 performers won high praise in China and overseas for its breadth, scope and flawless execution.

However criticism began to build after it emerged that another part of the opening ceremony had been faked.

Supposedly live pictures of fireworks depicting footprints moving from central Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to the Olympic stadium in the north of the capital were actually partly computer-generated or pre-recorded for TV, organisers have admitted.

“This illustrates an important aspect of these Olympic Games,” said Xiao Qiang, the director of the China Internet project at the University of California at Berkeley and former dissident.

“It is all about projecting the right image of China with no respect for honesty or for the audience.

Look, I’m not saying this is a huge deal – after all, this, and this, I think, would certainly trump that when it comes to suspicions about the Chinese and the way they operate. All I’m saying is that the only thing the Chinese care about is the Chinese and asserting their position in the world. As do the Russians. As should the U.S., for that matter.

The point I’m making here is just this: anyone who knows the history of these particular peoples and nations ought to understand they can’t be trusted, and the idea that we can or should meet with leaders of nations having (at least in our view) less-than-honorable intentions and/or behaving badly without precondition is to look at the world through rose-colored glasses.

They say all is fair in love and war – I would extend that to politics as well. If Obama doesn’t understand that, he’s not as bright as I think he is.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:44 | Comments (0)
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