Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Karma Doctrine?

The Obama adminsitration foreign policy brain trust has apparently decided to lead from behind the fullness of time:

Lately, Obama and Kerry have been talking a lot about how Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is on the “wrong side of history.” Before that, Obama announced that Putin was on the wrong side of history for supporting the Assad regime in Syria. He also said that Assad himself was on the wrong side of history. And so on. ...

When the president tells Putin that he’s on the wrong side of history, the upshot is: “You’re winning right now and there’s nothing I can (or am willing to) do to change that fact. But you know what? In the future, people will say you were wrong.”

The phrase is utterly lacking in feck because it outsources the bulk of the punishment to an abstract future rather than the concrete here and now. But the fecklessness goes deeper than that because people like Putin and Assad either completely disagree about what the future holds or they think they can change it. And the people who try to bend the future to their benefit tend to be the sorts of people who believe they can.

Yes. Jonah Goldberg even describes with the same language what I hope we would do--bending the future to our benefit. Nobody can control it with a perfect plan. But you can try to influence it.

For those briefly enamored of the Responsiblity to Protect doctrine (R2P), this reliance on the fullness of time is an odd attitude. Why didn't we tell Khadaffi of Libya that his repression of his citizens placed him on the wrong side of history--and leave it to history to tame him?

The fact is, the administration knows that relying on the fullness of time to solve international problems at best consigns people to live under tyranny for generations longer than they might otherwise. The adminsitration just likes an excuse for not trying to bend history to our advantage.

Worse, as Churchill noted, the victors get to write the history which determines what is considered the right side of history. Putin believes the fall of the Soviet Union was a tragedy and he sincerely wishes to make other people believe that event was on the wrong side of history.

We should render unto God the fullness of time; and render unto Caesars a swift kick in the butt.