If Only We'd Listened

« March 2014 »

So we've got a new global crisis, this time in the Ukraine, with Russian troops moving into Crimea. You won't see me opining much on the topic, or what we should be doing about it, because frankly, I don't have the grounding or the background to have an opinion that means a goddamned thing.

However, what I DO have the background and grounding on is people who don't have the grounding or background to have an opinion that means a damn thing, but still express that opinion, because qualifications are for suckers.

Now, under most circumstances, I would consider myself done with Sarah Palin. Since she's now employed solely to say stupid shit, the stupid shit she says is a condition of her continued employment as a cog in the echo chamber machine, and thus, largely boring.

But one of the tenets of this space is that people who are right about stuff should be listened to, and people who are wrong about stuff should be vilified and punished. And Palin is now claiming to have been right about stuff. Which means I have to quote her being right about stuff. Which means I need to warn you to keep a bucket handy, because the quote does include at least two of Palin's trademark, bordering-on-self-parody Palinisms. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"I'm usually not one to Told-Ya-So, but I did, despite my accurate prediction being derided as 'an extremely far-fetched scenario' by the 'high-brow' Foreign Policy magazine." - Palin on Facebook, the last refuge of scoundrels.

Now, it's true that, six years ago, Palin warned that Vladimir Putin might invade the Ukraine. And it is true, that, six years later, Putin has sent Russian troops into part of the Ukraine. But there's more to Palin's prediction than that, and it's worth looking at in in detail. The context was the 2008 election, and Palin trying to explain why voters should pick McCain over Obama.

"After the Russian army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence – the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next,"

Now, that's a very different statement. The prediction wasn't that Putin would invade the Ukraine, it was that Putin would do it because Obama wasn't swinging a big enough foreign policy dick to intimidate Putin. Which is a sentiment you probably heard a lot of this weekend if you listened to the wrong people.

Now, I'm not suggesting that foreign policy is entirely a, if you'll pardon the borrowing of the term, "high brow" affair played out on a purely intellectual and strategic level, because foreign policy is decided by people and people are assholes. But neither is it as simple as Palin thinks it is. Because, well, nothing is as simple as Palin thinks it is, and the only thing MORE simple than Palin thinks it is is, well, Sarah Palin.

It's clear that if anything "encouraged" Vladimir Putin to invade the Ukraine, it's been the last two weeks of protest, violence, and the eventual overthrow and destabilization of the Ukranian government. Now, one could argue that somehow, a deeply intimidating United States president might override actual strategic considerations, but since nobody is actually proposing military intervention to stop Russia, what's being argued is that Obama is incapable of bluffing convincingly.

And even if shit worked like that, which essentially treats global politics like a prison yard, what's made Obama incapable of bluffing convincingly? Could it have been a failed invasion and occupation of Iraq? Maybe a 12-year occupation of Afghanistan? Maybe a lack of moral authority when it comes to invading other countries? Or maybe, just maybe, it's that everyone knows the United States' options here are incredibly limited no matter who would have been in power since 2008. What are we gonna do, threaten to nuke Moscow like it was 1987?

If Sarah Palin wants to have told us so, she's going to have to do more than get the "what" right within the larger part of a decade while getting the "why" and the entire surrounding context wrong.