Tag Archives: Russia

The Sunset of the American Empire

1-Obama-vs-PutinWhen it comes to the quick and successful Russian occupation of the Crimean peninsula, U.S. President Barak Obama insists that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “on the wrong side of history.”

Again, in comments about the Crimean takeover, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, “The world cannot just allow this to happen.” But neither Obama administration nor the other Western democracies are even remotely suggesting they use the military option to meet such aggression with determination and power.

Neither Obama’s America nor the European Union will risk going to war with Russia over the fate of the Crimea or even ALL the eastern Russian-speaking half of the Ukraine. It’s just Putin’s for the taking.

Like the recent crisis in Syria over the use of poison gas to kill Syrian rebels and civilians, it appears that Putin’s Russia is setting the agenda in the arenas of its choosing.

And I have to acknowledge that in such an age as ours with its omnipresent video and social putin bear obamamedia, Putin is remarkably media savvy. He has cleverly stage-managed a Crimean velvet invasion, avoiding nasty scenes on the nightly news and Internet of Russian troops causing violence and bloodshed.

Still, whatever the Russian rationale (and they can make an interesting case) the heart of the issue remains clear in international law: invasion of one state by another without a serious existential threat or provocation in order to annex coveted territory is plainly and simply a no-no. If not effectively opposed and reversed what’s happened in Crimea will be a blinking neon sign advertising that its now open season for the world’s aggressors to initiate a new round of changes to the world’s maps.

What’s at stake is not just about defending the right of Ukrainians to decide their own future. What’s hanging in the balance is the whole structure of current international relations and the present status quo. Is the crisis in the Ukraine announcing the sunset of the American Empire? Has America effectively abandoning its role as the world’s policeman?  And, if it will not longer act as the dominant power of the world—how long will it be before the American dollar also loses its role world’s reserve currency? The implications of all this is profound. Is the American era unraveling and coming to an end before our very eyes?

The consequences of what has happened in Crimea should not be viewed in isolation from what has been happening elsewhere on the world stage over the recent past. There are some principles iranian hostage crisisof human affairs that are immutable. High stakes diplomacy is inevitably a test of wills. Every act by a state during a crisis signals either of its strong will and convictions or its lack thereof. Weakness invites more aggression.

The present situation calls for a beefy presidential backbone rather than a turkey wishbone to be sitting in the Oval Office. Many commentators are drawing parallels between Jimmy Carter’s weak presidency and that of the current occupant of the White House. But actually, the situation for America now is much more dire now than it was 35 years ago during the Iranian hostage crisis.

crimea europe mapWithout strong leadership from America, the rest of the Western democracies will prove unwilling to make any move that could harm their own narrow economic interests and/or complicate their domestic politics. Besides, all together, the Western allies just don’t possess the raw military power that the U.S. does.

Although the United States actually has the power to force a reversal of the Crimean takeover, America’s political leadership doesn’t have the strength of will that comes from strong moral convictions to actually use that power to stand up for the underdog Ukrainians.

Of course this isn’t the first time the current U.S. president preferred wet noodles over backbone. This is the same president who last year refused to force the Shi’ite Iranians to stop developing their nuclear weapons program that threatens to destroy and/or intimidate America’s major allies in the Middle East: Jewish Israel and the Sunni Arab petro-states of the Persian Gulf.

So why does the United States lack the backbone to speak softly while credibly threatening to use their great big stick on the world’s bullies? Why indeed!soldier flag

The answer is surprising.

From its founding, America thought of itself as an “exceptional” nation, a shining city on the hill beckoning all of humanity to embrace high moral values. The explicit foundation of this American “exceptionalism” was the nation’s Judeo-Christian morality, which was sustained by a vibrant personal religious zeal that believed that faith must be put into action whatever the cost in time, treasure, and blood. This lively personal piety flowed from the private sphere into the public sphere to enlighten the conduct of the nation’s business. Judeo-Christian morality informed the government in its policies, diplomacy, and even the exercise of power. Americans saw themselves as the best hope to change and improve the world. And they did something about it because they believed they had a mission to do so.

But for two generations now the well-spring of American exceptionalism has been dramatically drying up just like the American Southwest has been drying up in its worst drought in 500 years. In ca droughtfact most leaders of the American public sphere can no longer sincerely proclaim “In God We Trust” without a large dose of brazen hypocrisy. I almost gag when I hear some particular American politicians say, “God bless America.” They are such hypocrites!

Major segments of America’s leadership have completely turned their backs on biblical morality and are actively seeking to undermine and destroy it.

Consequently, the shining city is being transformed—rapidly now—into a 21st Century version of Sodom and Gomorrah with a heavy emphasis on prosperity and almost none on biblical morals. The shining city on the hill is fast becoming a den of iniquity that must resort to buying its lovers attention since it can no longer attract them with the beauty of sincere high moral virtues.

As a direct consequence, the Bible’s God promises that He will “break the pride of your power” (see Leviticus 26:18-19). God is speaking in this scripture of an “exceptional” nation that once publicly claimed Him far and wide as their God. But such a people later turned against Him and became degenerate in the both public and private spheres as defined according to the biblical scriptures. As a consequence, those people were punished and punished some more until they repented of their faithlessness and turned back to their God.

Woe to any nation like the Ukraine that depends on a similar faithless, hypocritical nation to defend it from the covetousness of an audacious enemy. A hypocritical, faithless nation’s pride in its power will always be broken—eventually. The Ukrainian crisis is revealing to the bullies of the world just how weak America’s pride in its power has become.

Leviticus 26:18-19 (ESV) 18 And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 19 and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.

The tie that binds us: a question of leadership

Canada is one of the most successful nations in the world. Why is this so?

When it comes to landmass Russia is about 1.7 times larger than Canada and has a population that is more than 4.1 times larger than Canada’s. Only 4.57% of Canada’s land is arable or suited for growing food.  In comparison 7.17% of mother Russia is fertile land. So Russia has an enormous advantage over Canada in both food-productive arable land, population size, and a massive landmass that is rich in exploitable mineral and hydrocarbon resources. Also, about 50.4% of Russia is covered by forests in comparison to Canada’s 26.5%.  So it would seem that Russia has a tremendous advantage over Canada and should be significantly richer.

Yet when it comes to comparing per capita income, Canada comes in 11th in the world with $29,740 while Russia only weakly registers as 82nd in the world with a relatively meager $8,920. Russian per capita income is just 30% of a Canadian! Such an economic disparity also shows up, logically, in export and GDP stats. Canada exports about $431 billion worth of stuff per year while Russia ships abroad only $335 billion.  Canada’s Gross Domestic Product weighs in at $1.25 trillion yearly while Russia’s GDP amounts to only $986 billion. The Canadian GDP is about 26% greater than Russia’s (stats courtesy of http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia).

Why such a surprising discrepancy? Among all the nations of this world, in the human development index (life expectancy, literacy, and standard of living), Canada is ranked as 5th among 178 nations while Russia lags behind in 62nd place. In the economic freedom index (rule of law and property rights) Canada is 18th amongst 156 countries surveyed whilst Russia is a pathetic 137th.  Obviously, in such a comparison to Russia, Canada is punching far above its basic national statistical weight! Why?

Why are we doing so much better than the Russians? It comes down to a question of leadership. Consider the past to understand the present, and perhaps to even see into the future.

The Russians brutally murdered their Monarch and their royal family in the early part of the 20th Century and embraced atheism as a national doctrine and Marxist-Leninism as their guide in economics. The result was a long series of brutal, paranoid dictators who oppressed the Russian people in order to control them and spent an incredible amount of their resources on a massive military infrastructure.

Canada, on the other hand, cherished its Monarchy and royal family. Canada also embraced for its theology, for the most part, Judeo-Christian religions with values that flowed from the Bible’s abiding respect for the rule of law and private property rights and a whole list of personal freedoms.

The effect of these different paths followed by Canada and Russia were consequences with very different outcomes.

Canada’s success and its foundational political institutions and documents are deeply indebted to the royal family for the solid cornerstone upon which the Canadian national enterprise has been built. The British/Canadian/Australian/New Zealand, etc. royal family has been one of the most successful political franchises the world has ever seen! Again, it has been a question of leadership.

Queen Elizabeth II, the present Queen of Canada and Canadian forces commander-in-chief, has been home with her people this week celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy, and our national birthday–Canada Day—on July 1st. Over 100,000 people enthusiastically greeted the Queen in Ottawa for this celebration.

Most Canadians of English-speaking descent are content with our present system of constitutional monarchy. However, most of the French-speaking are not so enthusiastic nor are those English-speakers infected by republicanism. For them the grass is always greener on the other side. But then we, Canadians, know that whining about the monarchy is as Canadian as complaining about the weather, eating pancakes with maple syrup or griping about having to learn to speak in school that “other” official Canadian language be it French or English.

The plain fact of history is, whether we like it or not, that Canada is what it is today–highly successful–in great part due to the role played in our national life by our monarchy.

The Scriptures have something to say about the important role of leadership in a nation’s well-being:

2When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn (Proverbs 29:2, 21st Century King James Version).

And…

4 The king establishes the land by justice, but he who receives bribes overthrows it (Proverbs 29:4, NKJV).

Again…

14 A king who judges the poor with fairness—his throne will be established forever.

In Canada, our very human Monarchy has been the tie that has bound us to each other and to others scattered around the world, setting an example for good, mostly. It has been the tie that has sustained us through thick and thin and we should show respect to our Queen and those who govern in her name. As the Apostle Paul admonished Christians:

1LET EVERY person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God’s appointment…. 7Render to all men their dues. [Pay] taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due. (Romans 13:1 and 7, Amplified Version).

So on the Canada day weekend, let us remember to show respect  and honor to those whose mostly good examples have allowed us to enjoy living in such a wonderful country.