Ukraine: Putin Capitalizes on Western Identity Crisis (La
"Today the West is no longer sure of itself, has no moral courage,
and is bereft of the spirit of sacrifice and cultural pride. That explains
Putin's gamble, which is why China stands by diffidently as the U.S. and E.U.
swing inanely between democracy and an impossible military response. Anguished
over the Kremlin's daring move, the West has suddenly been transported back to
1962 Cuba - light-years from Obama's 2008 Prague magic."
much time has passed since April 2009, when President Barack Obama, enthused
after being elected, declared in Prague that he seeks “the peace and security
of a world without nuclear weapons”? And how many seasons has it been since
April 2010, when in the Czech capital, he spoke alongside then-Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev, referring to him as a “friend and partner … who shares a commitment
to cooperation”? How quickly America, Europe and Russia have worn out hopes for
the post Cold-War era, with Ukraine having witnessed the first boundary
violation in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
a leader downsized by the forces of history, is no longer as infallible as the Dioscuri [Castor and
Pollux]. Returning to Europe a “lame-duck” and experiencing a decline in political support,
he was received with suspicion by allies who loathed his performance in the
case of NSA metadata. At the end of his trip he will be received by the Saudis
who were disappointed by the White House over Syria and Iran. And in the
meantime, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is playing the same old bluff, testing
the resolve of the U.S. and E.U. as he did in Georgia during the days of G. W.
Bush, betting that the West will react with bureaucratic impotence disguised as
Crimea annexation has not only provided historians with an end date to the
"post Cold War" era, it has exposed the strategic weakness of
Washington and Brussels. They have underestimated Russia, crushed beneath a
castle of lies about the USSR, the “Evil Empire” criticized by Reagan, thinking
they could expand NATO and hold a dialogue with Beijing while ignoring Slavic
history and pride without fear.
a book published by La Stampa in 1987
that would be worth publishing online, Caro
Gorbaciov, caro Natta [Dear Gorbachev, Dear Natta], the great columnist and former communist
Frane Barbieri argued against the ideas of Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
West will be defeated, because it persists in confronting the USSR
diplomatically, failing to understand how the Russian people, hostile to the
Soviet Communist Party and the Kremlin, are their real interlocutors.” Barbieri
is skeptical about the messianic message of the author of The
but the dilemma remains unresolved. America and Europe are incapable of engaging
with either “the Russian people,” or the Kremlin. They overestimate Moscow,
as the CIA did in 1978, even after scholar Hélène Carrère
spoke of the “implosion of the Soviet empire,” churning out astonishing figures
on the USSR's production of armaments. Or they don't take the Russian bear
seriously enough, as with Putin, discounting it and facing a furious
Obama, nor the European Union, nor NATO, really know how to react to Putin’s
attack against Ukraine. The 1994 Budapest
obliges the Americans and Europeans to preserve the territorial integrity of
Ukraine (which was signed by Kiev in exchange for the removal of the Soviet
nuclear arsenal). However, they oscillate between trying to bully and
intimidate with sanctions - to little effect, and fearfully requesting that
contracts for energy supplies be respected by Moscow, as German industrials have
so shamelessly done with Chancellor Merkel (and with former Chancellor
Schroeder working as Putin's lobbyist).
military chief General Breedlove warns that Putin is massing troops and tanks
along the border with Transnistria. Other observers talk about Russian
maneuvers on the border with Ukraine. Yet security expert Christopher Chivvis of
the European Council of Foreign Relations confirms that a military response to support
Kiev is impossible, and that it has been years since the Pentagon has even
discussed such a contingency for fear of irritating Moscow.
and Americans haven't had a common strategy since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In 2004, after the split over Iraq, the House International Relations Committee
and other analysts, including Radek Sikorski, who is now Poland's foreign minister,
to discuss the Atlantic alliance. Rereading that
debate, one is dismayed by the chasm that has opened. Europeans dream of
prolonging the since 1945 status quo that has been lost. Meanwhile the Americans,
deluded into thinking they can have an “pivot” to Asia, are incapable
of covering two opposing frontiers.
remains of the lackluster Washington-Brussels alliance has been exhaustedduring negotiations on the TTIP - the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, where no agreement has been
signed. This isn't because of tariffs or duties, which are easily negotiable, but
because of opposition to cultural products, education, and the market.
Beppe Grillo's blog, the TTIP has
been described as “pure madness,” and is depicted as an octopus with a top-hat
and Havana cigar oppressing the world.
heir of De Gasperi, Adenauer, Schuman, democracy, trade,
and peace, used to be well aware of its shared values. America, heir to Roosevelt, Kennan, Kennedy,
democracy, trade, and security, was once equally rooted in its own tradition.
Today the West is no longer sure of itself, has no moral courage, and is bereft
of the spirit of sacrifice and cultural pride. That explains Putin's gamble,
and is why China stands by diffidently as the U.S. and E.U. swing inanely between
democracy and an impossible military response. Anguished over the Kremlin's
daring move, the West has suddenly been transported back to 1962 Cuba - light-years
from Obama's 2008 Prague magic.