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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

American Fatigue Syndrome -- If the U.S. doesn't lead, the strongmen win. For them it's easier -- By Daniel Henninger, The Wall Street Journal

By the time the second World Trade Center tower collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, the whole world was watching it. We may assume that Vladimir Putin was watching. Mr. Putin, a quick calculator of political realities, would see that someone was going to get hit for this, and hit hard. 

He was right of course. The Bush presidency became a war presidency that day, and it pounded and pursued the Islamic fundamentalists of al Qaeda without let-up or apology.

During that time, it was reported that Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer in East Germany, deeply regretted the fall of the Soviet Union's empire and despised the Americans who caused it to fall. But no one cared what Mr. Putin thought then. Russia's power was a sliver of its former size. Besides, Mr. Putin's hurt was salved with the limitless personal wealth that flowed from doing business with the West. Conventional wisdom clicked in easily: Capitalism's surplus was enough to sate any rational autocrat. 

In 2008, the American people elected a new president, and Vladimir Putin, a patient feline, would have noticed that President Obama in his speeches was saying that American power would be used "in concert" with other nations and institutions, such as the United Nations. What would have made Mr. Putin's eye jump was the decision by George Bush's successor not just to leave Iraq but without leaving a residual U.S. military presence to help the new government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. 

Sometime in the first Obama term, opinion polls began to report that the American people were experiencing what media shorthand came to call "fatigue" with the affairs of the world. The U.S. should "mind its own business." The America-is-fatigued polling fit with Mr. Obama's stated goal to lead from behind. A close observer of American politics also could notice that Republican politicians, the presumptive heirs of Reagan, began to recalibrate their worldview inward to accommodate the "fatigue" in the opinion polls. 

We are of course discussing Vladimir Putin's path to the forced annexation of Crimea. And possibly in time a move on the independence of Ukraine, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Kazakhstan or Moldova. This narrative has one more point of Putin demarcation: Syria.
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