Can we put aside, just for a moment, the breaking news that Omarosa is threatening to sell Alex Jones tapes of a leering John Brennan in a tacky sombrero slow-dancing with Stormy Daniels at a Cinco de Mayo-themed party at the palatial home of Bruce and Nellie Ohr?
Notwithstanding the undoubted critical importance of the state of Elon Musk’s psyche, or the expanded nondisclosure agreement Michael Avenatti is negotiating with Nancy Pelosi’s Dr. Botox, a few other things are happening in the world that merit at least a little attention.
To the dismay of Christiane Amanpour, Thomas Friedman and some recent US retirees in danger of losing their security clearances, a lot of those nasty foreign leaders who were supposed to be running rings around what the experts insist is Donald Trump’s clumsy, ahistorical amateurism are finding themselves in serious trouble. While it is too soon to declare that Trump’s predicted “too much winning” has actually arrived, there is bad news for those abroad wishing us ill wherever one looks.Xi Jinping
China’s President for Life, Xi Jinping , is not only encountering unwonted new criticism at home for an emerging debt crisis and an economic slowdown, but revelations of fake vaccines being administered to Chinese children, mass detention of Muslim Uighurs in China’s northwest, and new resistance in places like Pakistan and Myanmar to mortgaging their futures to Chinese banks through the infrastructure scam known as the Belt and Road Initiative, are unmasking the reality of China’s brutal domestic and predatory foreign policy.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, despite all the bluster, occasional murder and provocative gestures, is likewise facing domestic unrest, much of it now centered on a plan for “reforming” state pensions. In this case “reform” means that Russia, like Chicago, can’t pay them anymore. In his own looming “midterm elections” nightmare, Putin’s United Russia Party’s “wide control of local and federal government institutions may now be in danger.” According to the Jamestown Foundation:
Twenty-two regional governor and 16 [other] regional government positions (including 4 mayoral elections) are up for grabs on September 9… [I]t is quite possible that the last few years of Putin’s reign as president will be characterized by a population that, while not in open revolt, holds heavy disdain for its government.”
Meanwhile, Putin’s business cronies must know something – they are sending their wealth off-shore at twice the rate they were a year ago.Vladimir Putin
Even the likelihood that Putin can turn once again to energy exports to bail out his ramshackle country seems threatened by new European skittishness over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. While of course Putin can still break a lot of things in various potential asymmetric strikes at the West, from more incursions in Ukraine to cyber and maybe even space-based attacks on US information systems, as well as election shenanigans here and in Europe, even these would reveal Russia for what it is – a declining power willing to descend to the level of other international pariahs like North Korea to maintain some semblance of relevance in the world.
Iran, likewise, is a mess. The economy, despite President Obama’s best efforts through his JCPA Mullah and Revolutionary Guard Stimulus Package, is in crisis, and civil unrest flares up across the country in response to everything from raging inflation to drinking water shortages. Meanwhile the degenerate clerics and Revolutionary Guard goons who support them are blaming “moderates” and the “management style, and executive policy planning” of the incompetent brothers-in-law and nephews on the take they themselves have placed in charge of what passes for Iranian civil government. Things will only get worse when the next round of US sanctions hits in November.
Turkey, another irritant of late, is also well along on the path to economic self-destruction. Except for “Its economic woes [including] one of the largest trade deficits of any emerging-market country, unmatched external debts, a currency vulnerable to decline, exceptionally high inflation, unorthodox monetary policy and very little international goodwill,” things are really great in Turkey. In an unorthodox initiative that will undoubtedly pull his desperate country out of the death spiral as well as protest U.S. sanctions effectively, President Erdogan has raised tariffs on U.S. imports and encouraged Turks to shoot and smash U.S. made electronic devices. The country’s progress towards Erdogan’s ideal of stricter Islamic observance is being accelerated by a new 140% tariff on U.S. alcoholic beverage imports.
Now, sophisticated hand-wringers will warn us not to engage in some kind of Schadenfreudefest over all this destabilization, disruption of international norms, threats to a rules-based order and all that. For them the only proper response is to fuel up the jets and get the diplomats, international lawyers and bankers to Helsinki or Vienna ASAP to begin a new round of The Negotiation Process before the global order collapses around our ears. Maybe a down-at-the heels Turkey abandoning the West and turning for economic aid to a Russia that can’t pay its pensioners, Persians and Russians conniving to sell sanctioned oil at bargain-basement prices out of used-car lots all over Asia, or Turkey threatening to blackmail potential Western European lenders by re-opening refugee routes through an Eastern, Southern and Central Europe that has learned a little and will react much differently this time, are prescriptions for disaster, but maybe not.
Maybe not, because something is different; namely, the U.S. is back. While it is too early to proclaim that the U.S. has done some serious winning abroad yet, the undoubted winning we are enjoying at home positions us more advantageously to confront foreign problems and turn at least some into opportunities, while containing those we can’t, than at any time in living memory. The United States’ economic recovery provides us options we did not have in December 2016, because of our growing economy’s capacity to absorb the undoubted costs that will accompany the changes in U.S. trade, defense and foreign policy the Administration is implementing. Add to this the emerging change of consciousness occurring across Europe, which, if wisely fostered by a confident and reliable America, can make the continent once again a real partner in the defense of the West.
As India turns to the U.S. to replace the oil it previously bought from Iran and Venezuela, the German Central Bank refuses to ship $400 million in cash to Iran, while Mexico and China keep coming back to talk trade, we see the wisdom of reversing the Obama Administration’s policy of hobbling American productivity and confidence. Keep this up and we may see some real winning on the world stage. Provided, of course, that Omarosa’s prediction in her new book does not pan out: “If news got out that I thought the president was delusional or mentally impaired, the impact on national and global stability would be cataclysmic.” And did you hear that Netflix cancelled Michelle Wolf’s show? Now that is big news.