The baton was officially transferred Monday to the world’s new sole superpower — and Vladimir Putin willingly picked it up.
President Obama (remember him?) embraced the ideals espoused by the United Nations’ founders 70 years ago: Diplomacy and “international order” will win over time, while might and force will lose.
Putin, too, appealed to UN laws (as he sees them), but he also used his speech to announce the formation of a “broad international coalition” to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
And who’d lead this new coalition? Hint: Moscow has always celebrated the Allies’ World War II victory as a Russian-led fete.
Oh, and if anyone wondered which Syrian players the coalition would rely on as allies, Putin made it clear: “No one but President [Bashar al-]Assad’s armed forces and Kurd militia are fighting the Islamic State.”
Meantime, if Obama has any realistic Syria plan of his own — beyond having Assad magically “transitioned” out of the country and simultaneously fighting ISIS — he failed to present it during his UN speech. Or any other time.
Instead, he scolded an “isolated” Putin for using force to annex Crimea and other parts of Ukraine. “Imagine if, instead, Russia had engaged in true diplomacy,” said Obama. “That would be better for Ukraine, but also better for Russia, and better for the world.”
His celebration of the United Nations was reminiscent of scenes from 1950s movies that portrayed it as a place where problems are actually resolved. In reality, along the decades (and even more so in the last six years), the UN became so paralyzed that it can no longer serve as arbiter of global security.
Obama’s speech was, as ever, full of promise. His turn from using “might” to claiming to have “right” on his side and relying on diplomacy have led to America’s opening up to Cuba and a key deal with Iran on nukes. But these are yet to yield positive results. “If this deal is implemented,” he said of Iran, “our world is safer.” Big if.
By contrast, Putin’s deployment of forces in Syria and arming of Assad create facts on the ground. They have also propelled him to the top by taking initiative on today’s most consequential world fight.
Putin? Nobody applauded him. He’s more interested in being feared than liked. Then again, his words, at most, are meant to explain forceful action.
That’s how Putin seized leadership from America.
And it’s bad for America. Because sooner or later, after more bloodshed and under even worse conditions than now, our next president will be called upon to retake the leadership baton from Putin. And that could prove tricky.
Full article: Obama has turned Putin into the world’s most powerful leader (NY Post)