Vince at Quora: Should the next president be strongly pro-EU, pro-NATO, supportive of US allies and sceptical of Putin?
Vince answered a question at Quora:
It depends on whether that “you” is plural or singular. I assume no one would ask what is important to one respondent, so let’s assume for now that you mean a collective “you.” The problem then becomes what group you are referring to. Just Americans or Americans and Europeans? The only way to be fair is to include the larger group. So let’s do that.
But we are then left with this hard-to-define term “sceptical of Russia.” In the standard Democrat interpretation, this could mean do we want to continue accusing Russia of “meddling in elections” and of “aggression.” To focus on the possibility of “meddling in elections” presupposes one of the following:
1 – The American people are so gullible that their vote can be determined more by a foreign influencer exerting only the subtlest influence, via a web site, for example, in Russia, that does not openly endorse any one candidate. If the US people are really this weak minded that they would be influenced more by a foreign country whose contribution in dollars is, for example, less than 1% of the money spent by US influencers in the same election, we have to seriously consider whether there is any hope for US democracy at all.
2—on the other hand, there is the possibility that the Russians have better arguments and are better able to muster facts, logic and reason to show beyond a doubt that their viewpoint is correct and superior to that of the political party they supposedly are trying to defeat. In this case, how can you defeat a party that makes a lot of sense vs a political party that makes much less sense to the US public? Is it fair to the voters to censor this more reasonable party?
For example, Russia was accused of exposing dirty tricks of the Clinton campaign that were used to unfairly damage the Bernie Sanders camp. Seth Rich admitted to providing WikiLeaks with this information and Wikileaks CEO Julian Assange stated that the info did not come from a state actor. And wouldn’t he know? But even so, which is more important: exposing this bad behaviour of one of the candidates or the allegation (unproven) that a foreign country had exposed the dirty tricks? You should not have to think very long and hard over that question. It is hard to avoid the impression that anyone – whether foreign or domestic – who was able to dig up the dirt on a candidate who is guilty of behaviour that the voting public would generally consider vile and disgusting, is not behaving reprehensibly but would in fact be praiseworthy.
But this question of what I or – let’s assume – we consider important also creates a dilemma because certainly none of us can know what Westerners collectively want. Generally, Europeans may have something of a consensus, because they have a lot to gain by maintaining the Iran Deal, for example, which they generally consider potentially lucrative. But then, in a way, Germany is a special case. In their case, there is virtually a consensus in Germany that when Trump’s ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, threatened them — and specifically BASF and Uniper — not to continue their work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project for delivery of Russian natural gas or face new sanctions, this was an underhanded way of bullying them into buying US LNG, which is prohibitively more expensive. Thus there is a consensus among German business people against this ham-handed bullying to stop the project because they generally believe buying US LNG would threaten their economy. They believe they need the Russian gas to remain in the no. two position in world exports. After all, gas is the main source of energy in production, which is energy intensive at best, and no sane person would choose the most expensive energy source over another significantly cheaper one. So we can know for a certainty that German business people would not want to adopt the standard US anti-Russian policy on that issue. As for German politicians, they too tend to support the business community. Some have taken a strong position and this will no doubt become a political hot button issue that will garner votes for whichever politicians promise to support Nord Stream 2 and stand up to the US.
As for a “president who would support allies,” it is no longer clear from what I have said above, what allies the US has left. The abandonment of the Iran Deal cost the US considerable credibility in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere. The profligate imposition of sanctions was also a major detriment to US credibility. In fact, China (and hence also Russia) has been able to capitalize on these sanctions and on the tariffs, which were generally hated worldwide. In fact, it will be a boon to Russia as well as China that the sanctions and tariffs were so widely rejected. There are two considerations:
1--Countries threatened with sanctions should they buy the Russian S-400 systems – ie, countries like Turkey, India and others have just thumbed their noses at the sanctions and gone ahead and bought them. This cost the US major face and credibility. After all, if a cop threatens speeders with fines and then fines no one, drivers will scoff at the police and keep speeding.
2—The sanctions, tariffs and demands to stop trading with Iran have induced Europe, China, Russia and Iran to boost the use of local currencies such as the euro and yuan, etc. in international trade settlements and thereby bypass the US dollar. Whenever the dollar is used less in international trade, its value and credibility as a reserve currency are reduced. Inversely, when another currency is used to substitute the USD in international settlements, that currency gains in value and credibility as a reserve currency. Thus, the sanctions intended to hurt Russia and its partners are indirectly harming the USD.
In fact, China has persuaded Europe, most African, most Middle Eastern and most Asian states to establish currency swap mechanisms, and many of these countries are already bypassing the US dollar in all of their international trade. For instance, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, China and Russia are deliberately avoiding use of the USD while others, like India, are using non-dollar currencies in significant percentages of their trade. This is just the beginning. One expert has predicted that the US dollar could soon lose 30% of its value. This is the price of US bullying.
As for NATO, this organization was founded for the sole purpose of countering the Soviet Union. James Baker had promised Russia that NATO would never move into the former Warsaw Pact countries, but that promise was broken. NATO is now at the RF border and this cavalier attitude toward the RF has induced Russia to build up their arsenal significantly, adding wonder weapons such as missiles that cannot be intercepted by any known method and supercavitating torpedoes and subs that can travel significantly faster than any of their Western analogues.
So what is NATO doing these days? Well, NATO is responsible for the deaths of 13,500 people, mostly civilians, in Kosovo and for causing a humanitarian crisis there that exists to the present day, where Serbs residing in Kosovo generally do not dare leave their homes for fear of attacks by radical Islamists, who have not only harmed the Serbs but have all but destroyed all Orthodox churches and cemeteries in the region. NATO used genocide by Serbs as a pretext, but UN appointee Carla de Ponte conducted a thorough study after the war and concluded that the actions of the Serbs did not rise to the level of genocide but the alleged victims were committing horrific crimes such as organ harvesting. NATO also killed 60-90 civilians and wounded 150 in their aerial bombardment aimed at taking out Ghadaffi, who had led the most prosperous and one of the most stable governments in the Middle East. The country has been a shambles since 2011 as a result of NATO’s intervention. No Western leader has been able to articulate any sensible reasons for this atrocity. So rather than me telling the reader whether the next president should support NATO, I have given the sensible reader information with which to mull that question yourself.
In view of all this, intelligent and moral people will be able to decide whether NATO deserves our support.
Finally, the question as to whether the next president should be “sceptical” about Russia depends, again, on how you define sceptical, but the West has generally been anti-Russian and the question would therefore be whether our next president should continue to seek to impoverish the Russian people with sanctions and threaten the country with war, as the Western governments and NATO have been doing.
I defer the answer to this question to CFR president Richard Haass, arguably the most respected and influential foreign policy expert in the US. Haass wrote in December 2018 a paper titled How a World Order Ends, in which he stated that the “US cannot defeat Russia.” He therefore recommended that the US learn to treat Russia with respect and to confer with its leadership rather than issue insulting and juvenile ultimatums. I think you can imagine how Haass, a foreign policy expert, would answer this question.
We can easily infer from Putin’s speech before the Federal Assembly and from the recent tests of Russian hypersonic missiles that Haass was not merely speculating but was fully justified in making this statement.
As for whether the president should be strongly pro-EU, any US president should support the will of the Europeans themselves. Remember how bulling people has cost the US prestige and credibility, so he must be well informed but willing to bow to the wishes of the people. In the case of the UK, a referendum showed that they wanted to separate from the EU. Obama had made great efforts to dissuade them, but it made no difference. Some Europeans even said his interference helped persuade them to vote to leave! Several minor parties in various countries are also Euroseptics and they seem to be growing in popularity. The Europeans are the ones who have to put up with the consequences of being in the EU. If at some point, a country decides it wants out, the US president should use his influence to urge them to do what is best for them, but he is, after all, the president only of the US, not of the world.
That is the end of my point-by-point analysis. But that is not the good part. If you open this quora page you will see that Glenn Anderson, the person who asked the question, was unable to articulate a rational response to my points, merely accusing me of being a Russian agent! That was the whole purpose of the exercise, to humiliate anyone who dared to dissent.
This seems to be what the "debate" has sunk to in the US and much of the West. The game has not ended with a clear winner or with a draw. It has simply disintegrated as the losing side capitulates to its own innate reasoning power and declares itself the winner on the grounds that it owns the football. The US is at a new low point. The West has been called "post-Christian," "post-capitalist," "post-historic" and so on, but we are now beyond any of that. We are post-reason. We are at the knuckle-dragging "I don't need no stinkin' brain" stage. And this applies to both sides of the left-right divide. Because the debate has never ever been about left vs right. It has always been about the ability to think for oneself vs capitulation to Corporate America and letting the Elites do our thinking for us. If you are with Corporate America, you really don't need a brain and if you try to use yours you will get slapped down. You literally do not need a brain. Because Corporate America has several different sides, to accommodate the witless no matter where they find themselves on the politial spectrum. Their arguments are pre-fabricated modules handed to us by our "leaders." We are actors in the Time Machine, either the Eloi or the Morlocks, neither of which is fully human, just machines existing for the pleasure of their creator. we are no longer subjects, just objects to be moved like chess pieces by outside forces.
This is the reason I have said and will say: there is no hope that the US will heal itself. It will, however, be healed by outside forces.
Richard Haass was right. A world order has ended.
The good news: The healing will be painful but complete and a new America will rise from the ashes. There's nowhere to go but up.