A WORLD ADRIFT

BLOG #43, SERIES #6
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
A WORLD ADRIFT
October 28, 2015

Once, very long ago, we had Pax Romana, which lasted for a very long time. If you include the Eastern Byzantine Roman Empire, it lasted well over a thousand years. Then came Pax Britannica that lasted over a hundred years. It was followed by Pax Americana—it has lasted about a hundred years. But now that America has all but abdicated its role of global peace-keeper, the proverbial Pandora’s Box has been opened with a vengeance.

Up until recently, a system of global alliances, anchored by the authority and credibility of America, has helped keep the world from ripping apart. Not so today: Hardly any nation seriously believes America cares much about anyone other than itself any more. Result: Russia has stormed into Ukraine—and now Syria; America is retreating from Iraq and Afghanistan; and is permitting China to challenge it across the Pacific. The Middle East is in shambles and millions of displaced people are overrunning the nations of Europe. Europeans assumed national boundaries meant something—but when people are starving, nothing short of wholesale slaughter will stop them from their desperate search for a better life.

In history, democracies have rarely lasted longer than two centuries. Now many are wondering whether or not the same will hold true for America.

In economics, if global trust breaks down, nothing will be able to save the global economy.

If we ever needed God before, we certainly need Him now.

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Pandora’s Box, Drones, and Regime Change

BLOG #21, SERIES 6
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
PANDORA’S BOX, DRONES, AND REGIME CHANGE
May 27, 2015

In recent days and weeks, the news from the Middle East just gets bleaker and bleaker—which makes me wonder. Specifically about the increasing use of drones in warfare. The rationale, of course, is that it’s not nearly as “messy” to surgically remove enemy leaders by drone strikes than having to fight them one on one on the ground. But what scares one is the precedent it sets: what is there then to stop them from returning the favor: using their own drones to surgically target our leaders in Washington?

When a President is Commander in Chief of the world’s largest military, there is an almost irresistible temptation to use it for regime-change. We removed Saddam Hussein in Iraq—now we’re seeing daily imagery of the barbaric ISIS exhibiting widespread atrocities across the Middle East. We step into Syria—and it unleashed a veritable hell in which one of the oldest civilizations in the world crumbles before our very eyes.

I remember hearing a pundit saying early on, where Assad of Syria was referenced: “As bad as he may be, has anyone taken into consideration the possibility that if we remove him from power, we may end up with something far worse?”

Well, it’s happened—and the situation grows more dire by the day.

Back to Iraq: We eliminate Iraq’s leader, arm the Iraquis, and when ISIS forces attack—they run. Whose fault is it?

What about the driving out or killing Christians all across the Middle East? Might that possibly be another example of Arabs taking vicarious revenge for our perceived intrusion into their “personal” affairs?

I don’t know the answers. I only know that there can be grave repercussions when one nation opens the Pandora’s Box of the Middle East and there emerges unimaginably vicious demons that heretofore had been kept safely caged.

And let’s look at Ukraine: Just how many countries around the world do we want to be responsible for? Yet, if our President is the acknowledged leader of the so-called “Free World,” how can he not take a stand in such a grave European dilemma?

It is always unpopular for a sitting President to respond to military “opportunities” in anything less than a macho way. But, since I’m in a wondering mood this morning—somehow nothing on this planet seems quite as simple as it appeared a few years ago.

More questions than I have answers.

IS UKRAINE OUR GENERATION’S MUNICH?

BLOG #10, SERIES #5
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
IS UKRAINE OUR GENERATION’S MUNICH?
March 5, 2014

Preliminary indications and predictions add up to a bleak scenario for our time. Just to refresh your memory, go back through history to the events leading up to World War II: British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his Conservative Party agreed to a foreign policy based on appeasement of Hitler. Chamberlain sought to draw Italy’s dictator Mussolii away from Hitler by concessions. In 1938, Chamberlain and his team met with Hitler and Mussolini in Munich and agreed to the rape of Czechoslovakia; and the stage was set for the horrific war that followed. Reason being: each back-down emboldened Hitler to gobble up another nation. History has not been kind to Chamberlain and his ill-conceived policy of appeasement.

Winston Churchill, Chamberlain’s successor, likened appeasers to a tiger that appeasers hope will eat them last.

So now we are faced with Janus-faced (one face to the Olympics, another to his opponents) Vladimir Putin, who is determined to crush the former countries that were freed by the fall of the Berlin Wall. U.S. and European leaders dithered like Chamberlain over Putin’s invading Georgia and Moldova (after the breakup of the Soviet Union), doing little to stop Putin. Now Obama is faced with Putin’s next step: the invasion of another sovereign nation, the Ukraine. Apparently, noting that Obama’s famous line in the sand for Syria’s dictator Assad turned out to be nothing but rhetoric, Putin feels empowered to do another land grab–not content with Russia’s already being the world’s largest nation.

Our current administration continues to weaken our armed forces in favor of entitlements, so our military is stretched paper-thin around the world. Already, Japan, seeing the backdown of Obama where Syria is concerned, realizes that it can no longer depend on America to defend it from the new tiger of the East, China, so it is beginning to rebuild its long inactive military. Now, Obama and Kerry are faced with their own moment of truth. The long fuse lit during the fiercely-fought primaries where Obama and Hillary Clinton fought almost to a draw. The issue of presidential guts was brought up then: that whoever won the presidency, after their honeymoon was over, inevitably their guts, or lack of them, would be severely tested by leaders of nations around the world. The question brought up then is clearly the question facing Obama now: Does he have the guts to stand toe to toe to Putin and demand that he pull back from the Ukraine? Guts such as Washington had, Lincoln had, FDR had, Truman had, Reagan had.

Let’s hope Obama will rise to the occasion and institute serious repercussions with real teeth for all our sakes– such as tough sanctions and freezing of Russian assets. If he does come through with real presidency toughness, it may end up defining his presidency.

Stay tuned. The Ukraine’s Crimea will answer this question.