Friday, September 20, 2013

Long Game Players

There’s plenty to worry about without even looking at international relations, but sometimes you need to do what you don’t want to.
I wrote last week about Syria, all I want to write and beyond. But I’ve had a specific question about our president and his long-term strategy. I’ve talked this over with the Spherical Model household, and we seem to have a consensus opinion in answer to my puzzlement.
It is a given that our president is a power monger. He loves control, and seeks more control wherever he can get it. Nevertheless, he acts in ways that weaken the United States on the international scene—apology tour, leading from behind, setting red lines which he manages by hoping they won’t be crossed and then dithering when they are. He has verbalized his belief that America is no more exceptional than any other country, and he believes we have been arrogant, so he is purposely taking us down a few pegs.
Here at home he seems pleased that the economy falters and sputters, and gleefully proud that more and more people become dependent on government. He has devalued the dollar, and our credit rating, to the point that we are at serious risk of losing our economic status in the world. He seems pleased at this new depressing normal.
So my question is, why would someone who seeks ever increasing degrees of power act in ways that reduce his status? What is his long game?
Does he see a path from what he is doing to increased power, such that he could leap from the lowly position of US President to something bigger, something more global?
I think he does see that path. I think he holds the belief that claiming connection with the Europeans and third-world nations, letting them know he’s not like the rest of us ugly Americans, will raise his image in their eyes. And their eyes are more important to him than the eyes of his fellow Americans, who are beneath him—evident in the sneering and condescension showing up his ubiquitous speeches.
He’s the un-American president. It’s a little like that phrase “compassionate conservative”; it implies that the special “compassionate” ones are different from the run-of-the-mill conservatives, who are, then, by definition, compassionless.  He thinks of himself as something other than American, and he believes that having such a self-perception makes him more appealing to the world.
But, as in most things (maybe everything) he is wrong wrong wrong! No thinking person in any country actually likes our president for his anti-Americanism. If they are our enemies, and thus anti-American themselves, they might like what he is doing—the less for them to fight against. But no one supports him as a better leader for tearing down the world’s greatest country—the economic, social, and freedom dream of the oppressed everywhere. No one trusts him as reliable. No one would say, “He’s so wise; why don’t we make him ruler of the world?”
So, if he is a power monger (and I think that is evident), and if he sees the US presidency as merely a career step to even greater power, then the logical conclusion is--he must be deluded.
On the bright side, concerns about him becoming the Left-Behind-Series style anti-Christ world tyrant are unnecessary. Likely his future role will be a more feckless Jimmy Carter, occasionally sniping from the sidelines, but without a listening public.
Do we need to worry instead about Putin? I’m not sure. After the “rescue” Putin did to dissuade the president from a Syrian strike, the metaphor was going around that Obama was playing cards while Putin was owning him at three-dimensional chess.
Star Trek 3D Chess
image found here
I was an adult by the end of the Cold War, so I’m beyond trusting anyone from the KGB. I’m sure Putin wants increased power, and I’m sure he’s playing an actual long game to get it. But I have my doubts that he can do it.
There’s a new book by Ilan Berman, called Implosion, subtitled, The End of Russia and What It Means for America. The author spoke with Michael Medved on radio Thursday (last third of first hour; these details come from that conversation). Much of his theory relates to demographics. Russian culture and people, Slavic Christians we could say, are disappearing. Russians lose half a million of their population a year, to death and out-migration. Life expectancy for men is about 60 years, a good two decades shorter than American men. Women live longer, to about 73, but still on par with Saudi Arabia, well short of Western longevity. Birth rates are well below replacement. The population will be 25% smaller, and still shrinking, by mid-century.
Meanwhile immigrant Muslims abort less, drink less, and support the traditional family more, so their numbers are growing. Some projections show Muslims will reach 50% of the population by 2050, subsuming the native population.
Young Russians are leaving in droves. A shocking 40% of 18-35-year-olds are considering leaving the country. The most popular Russian blog is titled (translated) “Time to Scram.” In the US and Canada there are large, thriving Russian populations, including scientists, engineers, symphony musicians. When a country is bleeding so many if it’s intellectual talent, that’s a county in trouble. And as long as the country continues as an uncertain threat to intellectual property, the bleeding will continue.
So, while Putin is posturing as powerful on the international stage, his country is floundering at home. It is my guess Putin will not be able to satisfy his power mongering hunger either.
Here's the better, Spherical Model long game: limited government that fills the role of protecting natural rights, free enterprise, adherence to the Ten Commandments, and strong families may not lead to world domination but will lead to unequaled flourishing.

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