Like most of his comments, this is too good to waste, so I’ve pulled out this comment by Liberty Scott for a Guest Post…
…the key point is that the US, particularly the Obama Administration (although Bush wimped out over Georgia) has withdrawn from the world.
Putin effectively annexed two parts of Georgia, he frightened the US into not implementing a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic (despite both countries being members of NATO and wanting it), and now he has taken part of Ukraine.
China is watching because it wants to see what would happen if it took the Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands, or the Spratlys and Paracels. It will see that for the next two years at least, the US is led by a President who will say a few words but do nothing. The implications for this will be considerable.
NATO, once led by the US, is paralysed as it is split between its Members. The UK, which was ready to act on Syria had been kneecapped by the appeasers in its backbenches and the Marxist now leading the Labour Party. France feels, rightly so, that it has been doing enough in Africa to deal to Islamists that it isn't going to lead on Ukraine. Germany is terrified of being portrayed as replaying WW2, and so is impotent on any of this.
The EU, eager to replace NATO as a foreign policy instrument, is trying to be oh so earnest, but can't deliver either.
Meanwhile, Japan is watching, and considering repealing its wartime constitution because it fears it wont be protected by the US - despite paying the US for its bases for the past 20 years. South Korea is sufficiently armed to the teeth to feel confident it can take on the north.
Obama, by extending his peacenik opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and belief in US guilt for many of the world's ills, is engaging in isolationism unseen since before WW21. It's popular mind you, Americans are war weary and the mainstream view in much of the West is cynically anti-American.
However, if people weren't so happy with Pax Americana, wait till they see Pax Bruxellis, Pax Russia and Pax Sinica.
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1. But isolationism this time in the context of a US that had previously made ongoing commitments to protect various places around the globe -- not least the Ukraine, peacefully disarmed of its nuclear weapons after the breakup of the Soviet Union on the basis that the US and Britain would continue to protect it. In this context, withdrawal of these commitments in the disintegrating manner Obama has done and is still doing (as Scott points out also in the case of Japan) leaves a power vacuum aggressors are eager to exploit. – Ed.