An international disorder unmatched since the interwar 1930s has been created by the drama of Ukraine and the Russians, combined with the inherent self-destructive forces of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the developing civil war over theological as well as political issues inside the Islamic states, and the serious risk of collapse in the European Union.
At least no ideological dictatorships are on the march, nor is any new millenarian totalitarianism apparent, only confusion, incompetence, and intellectual and moral disorder. But these are bad enough in an over-armed world.
Only one man seems to have a clear ambition. Vladimir Putin wishes to return position and power to Russia, and so far has shown the clearheadedness to deal with those who oppose him.
His is not an ignoble ambition, if the prospective subjects of his Eurasian economic bloc are willing to have it happen, and see advantage in it. Beyond Crimea, this is by no means assured, and eastern Ukraine may prove a stubborn obstacle to the reunion of the Russian-speaking peoples who live on Russia’s western and Baltic frontiers, if that is what President Putin wants.
It might be accomplished diplomatically, which is what he has suggested that he wants — thus Russia’s proposal for referenda in contested areas and negotiations with Western supporters of a new Ukrainian government possessing a new electoral mandate. But it may not be possible that way, and the quality of the diplomacy thus far displayed by Brussels — by both EU and NATO — and by the United States has amounted to little more than bellicosity and unenforceable threats.
No one knows what the U.S. wants in this region, beyond the unacceptable ambition it has displayed since Communism’s collapse — and which now has exploded in its face — of shoving NATO membership and Western ostensibly-defensive/opportunistically offensive missile installations right up to the Russian borders. This can only be understood in Moscow as a hostile policy.
The European Union’s apparatus of external relations has obtusely followed any lead proposed by one of its members, or by the U.S., without public examination of the proposal’s utility to Europe. Its sole independent line of policy has been territorial expansion of the EU with disregard to the national character, political maturity, or existing policies of the subjects of this expansion.
Why should Slavic and Orthodox-Uniate Ukraine, its history painfully intertwined with Russia’s, be made a member of what was and still essentially is Charlemagne’s post-Roman Europe? Why does Turkey belong in Christian Europe? If asked, could U.S. President Barack Obama give a considered and historically grounded answer to these two questions? (Or Baroness Ashton, the EU’s high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.) Or does the machinery of foreign policy-making grind relentlessly along behind Obama’s back, or beyond his attention?
This indifference plus mindless EU expansionism, paralleling that of a NATO dominated by neoconservative thinking, have now ignited a very large crisis that neither institution, alone, is capable of resolving.
And then we have the Muslim conflagration set off by U.S. President George H.W. Bush and his hysterical son, U.S. President George W. Bush, with his minders from the Dark Side.
Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan — in all of them, a Bush, or Obama, together with his accomplices, has passed their way, sowing annihilation.
And at the source, the struggle of Jews and Muslims for the Holy Land. Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have been the latest Americans to promise its solution, in the face of the manifest unwillingness of Israel to allow the conflict to be solved on any terms that do not expel all the Palestinians from the Palestinian Occupied Territories, and award these to Israel (God’s lands, therefore Zionist Israel’s: Sheldon Adelson, sales agent).
The Palestinians will go to the U.N. and the International Criminal Court. The U.S. will use its money and vetoes to wreck the U.N.’s agencies, and the international courts, which it refuses to recognize. There may be a new intifada. Israel will bomb Iran. The U.S. will deploy troops to defend Israel. Russia will arm the Arabs and rearm Iran. The European states will withdraw from all of this. God will look down and weep at what is done in His name.
Based in Paris, William Pfaff writes frequently on foreign affairs. His latest book is “The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America’s Foreign Policy.” © 2014 Tribune Content Agency