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Civilization Watch
First appeared in print in The The Rhino Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card March 6, 2014

The End of the American Peace

The Russian invasion of the Crimea isn't anything new, and it didn't begin with Obama's presidency. Remember that during the election of 2008, Putin sent troops into Georgia, ostensibly to protect the rights of a minority, but really to keep Georgia from charting a course that was too independent of Moscow.

Putin distracts his people from the corruption and oppression of his administration by making Russians feel proud again. He does this by bullying newly independent nations that used to be part of the Evil Empire.

Russia is still an imperial power, and it's still evil -- totalitarian and expansionist -- under the leadership of Putin. It just isn't Communist.

When Putin invaded Georgia in 2008, we had a weakened President. Bush had been strong, but by then it was clear that he lacked public support for any kind of military intervention.

Also, Georgia is remote, so that there was no way for American forces to intervene; and it is strategically unimportant to American and Western interests.

Ukraine is not remote. Ukraine is economically vital -- it is to Russia what the wheat and corn belts of the Midwest are to America. Not only that, but whatever the yearnings of the Ukrainian people might be, it is very hard to find an era when Ukraine was an independent nation.

We may -- no, we should -- feel great sympathy with the yearning of Ukrainians for complete independence from Russia. Russia has been a vile overlord from the beginning of Moscow's domination under the Tsars, and Ukraine suffered more than anyone from Stalin's campaign against independent farmers and then from Germany's invasion during both world wars.

Even more than Poland, and very much like the delta region of Nigeria, Ukraine seems fated to be ruled by stronger neighbors. There are no natural defenses to hold back invaders.

There is only one way countries like Poland and Ukraine can remain independent. They must have a protector that is more powerful than any invaders, yet doesn't want to capture the prize for itself.

For a thousand years, Ukraine has been the prize tossed back and forth between the Golden Horde, Russia, and Lithuania-Poland, with Germany coming into the game during the twentieth century. That's why Ukraine has never been independent. There was never a benevolent protector, only captors.

Since the collapse of Communist rule and the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine had its first chance for independence. Ever. And it had that chance for one reason only:

The United States of America.

Russia was weak for a while, but it was always stronger than Ukraine, since Ukraine participated in the weakness of the USSR but came away from it with almost no resources except agriculture. Russia could have kept Ukraine as a satellite or forced it to become an integral part of Russia -- except that the United States said no.

We didn't say it loudly. But the message was clear: Hands off the newly independent former SSRs (Soviet Socialist Republics). Stay out of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and the Caucasian and Asian SSRS as well.

And until the Left weakened George W. Bush on the absurd grounds that he was wrong to wage war on the centers of terrorism, that message was obeyed.

Then came Barack Obama. We knew he was going to be a foreign policy disaster when Russia invaded Georgia and candidate Obama declared that we shouldn't do anything ourselves, but take the matter to the UN Security Council.

Apparently he didn't know that Russia has a veto on the Security Council.

His ignorance was not surprising. After all, he is the first President to be the product of our new "relevant" educational system. The first to attend universities where history has been taught through the filter of the "anti-war" (i.e., anti-American) propaganda of the 1960s.

Here is the myth that Barack Obama, like so many Americans who have swallowed the dogmas of the Left, believes:

America is a bully, picking on smaller nations and throwing our weight around. We are the cause of all the wars and evils in the world, and if we just let other nations find their own way, there would be peace and harmony everywhere.

This is impossible to believe if you know history at all. So in order to get people to believe it, the Leftists who dominate the American universities and the American media make sure they keep you from learning history as much as possible.

They have been almost completely successful. Only the tiny minority of people who actually study history on their own understand that this myth is the opposite of true.

Here's the truth: Big nations always take whatever they want from small nations, unless there's a bigger nation nearby that makes it too costly to do it.

When the big nations cooperate, they do nasty things like the partitioning of Poland, which continued until Poland ceased to exist as a state.

When they don't cooperate, we have wars, hot or cold.

This is the way the world has always worked and will always work. It's like the laws of economics. You can deplore them, you can wish things didn't work as they do, but you can't repeal those laws.

Barack Obama is the Beloved Leader of the America-hating Left -- and yes, they hate America and everything it stands for, until you say so, and then they get all tetchy and accuse you of impugning their patriotism. Well, of course we impugn their patriotism. They don't have any. They think patriotism is embarrassing. They call it "American Exceptionalism" and think the idea is absurd.

Except that America has always been an exception to almost everything.

We haven't been perfect, and we've had bloody struggles as we wrestled with mistakes from the past. Native Americans, slavery, civil rights, women's rights, religious freedom -- we have been far from perfect.

But that doesn't mean we aren't a huge, glorious Exception.

1. We are a nation founded on ideas, not ethnicity. We exist in a particular place, but we have permitted people to come to us from all over the world and become American. No other nation before us ever did that.

Some groups assimilated more slowly than others. Germans were probably the slowest -- compared to them, Latinos are assimilating at lightning speed. And ties to the motherland persist generations later -- remember how long Irish-American donors funded the terrorist of the IRA. But most immigrants have come here eager to raise their children to be American.

Because if you accept the ideas of America, you are American. Period.

But the American Left have rejected those ideas, every single one of them. They have carved out an new anti-American ethnicity within our borders and they have taken almost complete control of our universities and our media. Their revolution is arrogant, repressive, bullying, dishonest, and mean.

And Barack Obama is the first of their number to be elected President. That's why he has no qualms about governing unconstitutionally, which he has done from his first day in office. They have nothing but contempt for the core American ideas.

2. We are a nation that has aspired to behave morally in our foreign affairs. Again, we have been far from perfect. But American leaders who tried to play old-style international politics found out that when the American public learns the truth about how the game is played, we don't want to play it.

We didn't mind building an empire in North America. Manifest Destiny was a popular idea, and nobody got thrown out of office for invading Canada or Mexico.

But then we grew up a little. When we began to realize what it took to create and keep an empire, we hated it. The only way to hold on to the Philippines and Cuba after the Spanish-American War, for instance, was to behave barbarically.

And we didn't want to be barbaric. We aspired to be a nation that behaved in a New Testament manner toward other nations. You know: Turn the other cheek. Love your enemies. Do good to them that despitefully use you.

As opposed to "kill every man, woman, and child, and slaughter even their cattle."

We wanted to be the Good Guys. Slow to go to war, but implacable once we decided to fight.

So yes, we conquered Western Europe as Russia conquered Eastern Europe during World War II. But we were slow to enter that war, and we tried to fight it according to rules of human decency.

Even when we did massively terrible things -- Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki -- it was with the goal of shortening the war and saving far more lives in the long run.

Notice this, when you think America isn't Exceptional: Wherever Russia conquered, people were enslaved, blocked from escape, ruled under a totalitarian system where you could be imprisoned for saying the wrong words. And if a nation tried to vary even slightly from this system, in came the troops.

Wherever America conquered, nations kept their independence, as long as they established free institutions. They could thumb their noses at America with charmless insouciance ... and American troops did not come in to throw out the nose-thumbers.

We got rid of our own colonies and pressured our allies to get rid of theirs.

We did go to war, to try to keep aggressively imperialist Communists at bay. We could see that wherever Communism got power, personal rights and freedoms disappeared.

So, following the Truman doctrine, we went to war in Korea, Vietnam, and, on a smaller scale, in dozens of other nations, to keep Communist "revolutions" funded and directed from Moscow from ending the people's hope of freedom.

Some of our allies in this struggle were not clean-handed. Corruption and various degrees of repression marked some of our allies. We were tolerant of governments that varied greatly from our ideals.

But anybody who thinks such allies were as repressive and evil as the totalitarian states has no sense of proportion. Besides, we didn't invade everybody and turn them into American clones, even though the Left claims that we did.

Some of our uglier allies gradually become more democratic -- South Korea, Taiwan. Some threw out their pro-American bosses and replaced them with something closer to American-style democracy -- the Philippines, Spain, Portugal. Some had their ups and downs -- Greece, Turkey, most of Latin America.

We made plenty of mistakes, and we've paid for them. Check out the Vietnam War memorial. And the Ayatollahs' Iran and Saddam's Iraq were poster children for what happens when American diplomats don't behave as Americans think their government should behave.

But compared to every other nation in history, we have been the most benign superpower, ever.

The only nation that even comes close is Britain -- they, for instance, decided unilaterally to abolish the slave trade. They announced it and began seizing slave ships no matter whose flag they flew. You know -- imposing their cultural ideals on people from different cultures, without asking permission.

Were they bullies when they did that? Or saviors?

Were we conquering imperialists when we invaded Europe in World War II? Or liberators? Did our troops stay in Europe and Korea in order to make them part of our empire? Or in order to keep Russia and China from making them part of theirs?

Only idiots and malicious anti-American would claim any kind of moral equivalence between us and our enemies. Wherever we conquered, nations remained or became independent, and people remained free or became freer than they had been before.

Where our enemies conquered, the opposite happened.

Despite all our mistakes, we have been extraordinarily generous to former enemies and bratty allies alike. America has been a force for good in the world like no other nation in history.

3. We could only be a force for good because we had the ability to project power -- and by that I mean violent military force -- wherever it was necessary.

States governed by evil, bullying, expansionist rulers only kept their misbehavior within bounds because America actively opposed them -- using military force wherever that was the only way to stop them from conquering.

Without military power and the willingness to use it, America could not have maintained the peaceful world system that has made the West so rich.

Every nation that has tried our economic system has prospered. But only because of our military protection has this even been possible. Does it even need saying that there would be no Taiwan, no South Korea, no Western Europe, no Japan as powerful economic forces in the world, were it not for American vigilance and sacrifices in maintaining their independence?

But Barack Obama took office in the firm belief that we were a force for evil, and he has systematically weakened us.

He began with his world apology tour. He bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia and chummed with the Islamist ruler of Turkey. He openly expressed his envy of dictators. He sided against Israel as far as was politically possible. He withdrew us prematurely from Iraq and now from Afghanistan.

He has signaled weakness at every opportunity. He drew a line in Syria, and when they crossed it he did nothing.

The world watched as Islamist terrorists invaded our consulate in Benghazi, assassinated our ambassador and three others, and Obama's reaction was to do nothing to protect them and then, after they died, lie and lie about who attacked and who was responsible for our failure to support our own people.

Did his kinder, gentler foreign policy make us any friends?

Quite the opposite. The image of America even among Muslims has plummeted under Obama.

Bush's foreign policy made us worth having as friends, because Bush defended liberty and kept his word. But Obama keeps no promises, defends no friends -- doesn't even defend our own soldiers and officials under military attack.

Under Obama, America has become an unreliable ally, a protector that refuses to protect. And he is weakening and shrinking our military so that we won't be able to project power even if we had the will. Even if our survival depends on it.

It's not that Barack Obama doesn't know how to be tough. If he had shown half the firmness with America's enemies that he has shown in slapping around the Republican Party and the few elements of the media that don't lick his shoes, we would be in a much stronger position in the world.

Why should Putin negotiate with us about anything? Ukraine is none of our business because we don't have the power to make it our business.

It is Europe's business -- because it isn't just the Crimea that's at stake. Do you think the governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, with huge Russian minorities, don't see the handwriting on the wall? They just lost their independence as surely as Ukraine did. Poland, Slovakia, Czechland, Hungary, and Rumania are also trembling. They know what Russian soldiers and tanks look like within their borders, and they can hear them coming.

We can't unite Europe behind the defense of Ukraine or any other eastern European nation, because most of Europe's energy comes from or flows through Russia. Putin can turn off the lights and stop the traffic all over Europe whenever he wants.

Maybe if America were still a credible world power with a strong will, we could lead Europe in taking bold action.

But it is Putin who has joined Syria and Iran in showing that might makes right, and America won't and, increasingly, can't do anything. Just as Eastern Europeans are preparing to be very, very obedient to Putin, so also the Middle East is preparing to be very obedient to nuclear Iran.

Do you think China isn't looking at what's happening in Ukraine, and thinking: Taiwan is ours now whenever we want to take it.

The only thing that kept these evil, expansionist governments from taking whatever they wanted from smaller nations was the United States of America -- the superpower that used its incredible strength to protect other nations and preserve their freedom.

The America that said, about Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, "This will not stand," is now led by Barack Obama, the worst president in our entire history. In five years, he -- and the American Left -- have had their way, breaking down our strength and turning us into a former superpower.

The result is not a more peaceful world at all. Their claims were all lies and delusions. America really was the great Exception. The World Power that protected the little guys instead of swallowing them up.

We weren't perfect, but we were the best in all of human history.

Now it's over. And here's what we'll get: The collapse of the world economy. Not suddenly, but bit by bit for a while, as other nations manipulate, monopolize, and disrupt international trade.

We'll reach a tipping point down the line somewhere, and all this global prosperity will collapse, leading to worldwide depression -- and poverty, and famine -- from which we may never recover.

But whatever the final tipping point is, remember this: It began when Barack Obama and the American Left dismantled America's power and withdrew us from our role as protector of the small nations of the world.

In the name of stopping America's "bullying," they have opened the door to all the real bullies.

Our weakness will unleash savage repression that will eventually reach every corner of the world.

This isn't about Barack Obama being our first black President. It's about Barack Obama being our first President from the New Left. Our first anti-American President. Our first President to believe all our enemies' slanders against America.

And because he has always governed without Congress, without any kind of cooperation with the opposition party, he will not compromise even now. Because Obama cannot learn from his mistakes.

He is such a fanatic, such a True Believer in the fantastical dogmas of the Left, that he and his whole party are deliberately stupid. They will continue to drive us toward the cliff -- toward several cliffs at once, in fact -- and when anyone points out the danger, they will denounce them, ignore the warnings, and step on the gas.

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