The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, March 03, 2022


No more than a month ago, the political elites around the Western world believed fervently that industrialized nations would act with caution whenever they had a tendency to become belligerent. Things would be settled at the U.N. or via multi-party negotiations, or via the fear of condemnation by "the world." They believed that the hard men whose dictatorial control of a few powerful nation states would bow to woke ideology, or human rights, or climate change or any of the things that our political elites thought would control the violent tendencies of those same hard men in the never ending quest for expansive power.

The tragic events of the past two weeks in Ukraine and the despicable actions of Vladimir Putin and his military prove yet again that Western political elites would prefer to believe in their fantasy—at least until the reality of the actions of hard men smack them squarely in the face.

Ten years ago, Barack Obama exemplified the fantasy position of the Western political elites during a presidential debate. The Boston Herald reports:

Nearly 10 years ago, soon after former Gov. Mitt Romney settled into his third debate against then-President Barack Obama, he was quickly painted by his presidential opponent as being out of touch — especially with foreign policy.

“A few months ago, when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia. Not al Qaeda. You said Russia,” Obama told him.

“And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” he quipped. 

The Democrat's trained hamsters in the media gleefully reported the exchange, noting that Romney was tied to the past and that the sainted Obama was a global citizen, a man of the future. 

The fact that Obama was dead wrong isn't a surprise. Russia—far from being a docile and agreeable partner in the new word order—has become a violent and aggressive actor, all on the whim of its dictatorial leader. During the intervening 10 years, Western political elites believed that they could dismiss Russia, do what they wanted to do in Europe, and ignore a growing threat that Romney recognized and that they dismissed.

Our political elites expected proper behavior and were smug in their actions. Germany, for example, was perfectly willing to decommission power plants and become increasingly dependent on Russian oil and gas. Joe Biden aggressively moved to shut down oil leases and pipelines in the United States, crushing our growing energy independence in the process. They believed in fantasy—until it collided with reality. 

Daniel Henninger uses the history of the past few years in the United States in an effort to explain the catalyst that lead to the catastrophic events in Ukraine. He writes::

Across the U.S., behavior outside the boundaries of established civil order—[riots], violence, murder, theft—has become routine because the police have become less willing to prevent disorder. [For months during the summer of 2020, the police were demonized by many political elites in the USA and other Western countries with allegations that all police were "systemically racist" and that they should be defunded.]

That collapse, in essence, is what has happened in Ukraine. Until a week ago, Kyiv, like any big American city, was largely an orderly place—with problems to be sure, but nonetheless providing normal space for people to live their daily lives. Then Vladimir Putin obliterated the fine line that sits between order and disorder, in the process explicitly threatening the postwar order of Europe itself.

The orderliness of life doesn’t just happen. Order has come from centuries of political effort, much of it to make the rule of law stronger than the law of the jungle. Maintaining that order is a political responsibility. It requires political leaders who are willing to ensure that the line between order and disorder doesn’t blur, or collapse.

With Mr. Putin’s reduce-to-rubble invasion of Ukraine, the world’s leaders—notably German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg—are recognizing that they didn’t do enough to prevent a determined outlaw like Mr. Putin from collapsing the weak presumptions that had propped up Europe’s orderly existence.

Now a free country is being destroyed by Putin, a hard man who doesn't give a damn about the opprobrium of people like Scholz and Stoltenberg, who couldn't care less about the things that they believe are the primary drivers of future governance. 

And worse, these same Western political elites are now left with few viable options to stop the carnage in the Ukraine. So they say the right words and do what they can. But when your strategies over many years are based on fantasy, a harsh reality can and will intervene. That's what has happened in Ukraine.