America at a crossroads

PerryScope
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 of Pax 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?

NATO

NATO

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.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)


9 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Mac Flores, Jr. says:

    There are many WHAT IFs that confront America at the crossroads.

    One of which is the PEACE PLAN by two leading members of the NATO, France and Germany, submitted to Putin to stop the civil war in Ukraine.

    The world will be watching the events that will transpire by next week if the PEACE PLAN will work or not while China’s encroaching in the Pacific seas is unstoppable.

  2. Your article, Perry D. has made more sense to me than other U.S. newspapers I have read on this subject. Thank you! You think you can help the Society of Phil. Surgeons in America, its president Rosario G. Laserna, M.D.and others who are in the Philippines now, on meeting with President Aquino with the Recommendations
    needed to improve/support free surgical/medical missions to the poorest of the poor in the PHL.This is urgent.

    • perry says:

      Hi Marilyn,

      Thanks for your comments. In regard to Dr. Laserna’s mission to see Pres. Aquino, I don’t think I can help in arranging a meeting with Aquino. As you know, I’m a known critic of Aquino and that would put me on his “shit list.” Pardon the expression.

      Thanks,
      Perry

  3. Jaime says:

    add # this last one to your list (7) “let us be patient” stance announced a few days ago. Now Obama wants to really formalize his indecision’s as the US government’s policy. Putin knows that – for sure he can get away with annexing a few more countries for the next 1-1/2 years and if Hillary becomes President, he will have at least a four year extension.

    BTW, I am glad Mr. Perry, that after six years, you finally see Obama’s kind of Presidency it really is. He has already earned the title “the worse US President ever had”, and the free world will suffer for it.

    • perry says:

      Hi Jaime,

      I’m still 100% behind Obama’s domestic policies and programs. Heck he got us out of the Great Recession. Unemployement rate in the lowest since 2005. Dow Jones tripled since 2009. Detroit is back in business.

      However, I don’t agree with his foreign policy. I’ve been a Republican since 1983 and I always believe in a strong America. You might even say that I could be perceived as a neo-con although I’m not because there are some of their radical views that I don’t agree with.

      Perry

    • filemon guerrero says:

      finally, the USA and the Philippines have one thing in common…indecisive presidents..

  4. pat talens says:

    Perry, a very candid commentary (wow, coming from you) on President Obama’s litany of soon-to-be legacy of foreign policy blunders. As a retired US military veteran, I add to your list his skewed strategic thinking as a war-time President—such as swapping an enlisted deserter Berghdal for 5 famous terrorist “generals”, trying to close Gitmo to bring in CONUS these remaining captured famous terrorists, and most recently his disheartening rhetoric and miscalculation to try to bring some moral equivalency to the unspeakable brutality of our enemies with the Roman Crusaders of many generations ago.

    Kudos and great U.S. foreign affairs commentary, Perry
    I never thought you can write such negating, but candid piece on President Obama. I had to double-check the name of the writer—and it is you. Naimbag nga rabii, kabsat. (my wife is from I. Sur of the Cachola clan, while I was raised in Pampanga)

    • perry says:

      Hi Pat,

      I’ve always been a conservative when it comes to foreign affairs. I even agree with some of the neocons’ positions.

      Dios ti agngina, gayyem. My family is from Paoay, Ilocos Norte.

      Perry

  5. Sotero F Fabella says:

    Thanks Perry, I am glad we agree about what Obama’s foreign policy has done to this adopted country of mine.

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