Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Madame Sarah Sees All

By now, almost everyone knows that Sarah Palin has bragged on Facebook

Yes, I could see this one from Alaska. 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. Here’s what this “stupid” “insipid woman” predicted back in 2008: "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."

Thanks to media outlets like CNN, whose political unit writes "Sarah Palin may be having a bragging rights moment," people may actually believe the ex-governor of Alaska.

Even Foreign Policy is is insufficiently instructive, offering an unnecessarily weak defense, with one of its contributors arguing (subscription required)

Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell called that hypothetical "an extremely far-fetched scenario," "Given how Russia has been able to unsettle Ukraine's pro-western government without firing a shot, I don't see why violence would be necessary to bring Kiev to heel."

Well, this week Russia did in fact invade Ukraine...

So we have to hand it to her: Six years after the publication oa a 156-word blog post, points to Palin. Sort of. Foreign policy wasn't Palin's strong suit when the campaign began so the McCain team assigned two Republican foreign operatives- Randy Scheunemann and Steve Blegun- to tutor her. And while Palin took to her studies with gusto, the campaign made a horrifying discovery in September 2008. "Palin couldn't expalin why North and South Korea were separate nations. She didn't know what the Fed did," John Heilemann and Mark Halperin write in their book 'Game Change.' "Asked who attacked America on 9/11. she suggested several times that it was Saddam Hussein. Asked to identify the enemy that her son (in the National Guard) would be fighting in Iraq, she drew a blank..." 

So... did Palin sit down one day in October, soberly consider the facts ,and conclude that, yes, Russia would probably invade Ukraine if Obama were elected?

It's easier to see the comments in the context of the GOP's 2008 narrative, which was the same as most Republican campaigns since World War I. Democrats are weak on national defense and that weakness will invite aggression, endangering us. And Obama would do things like "sit down with the world's worst dictators," Palin said, referring to Iran, while depriving our troops in Iraq of the tools they needed to win. In short, there are powerful enemies in the world: I am strong,; my opponent is not; I'll keep you safe.

It's a psychologically powerful message, which is why conservatives use it over and over again. America is always under threat, Democrats are always naive, the GOP is always strong. So for the purposes of riling up the crowd in Reno- which Palin did quite effectively- about any scenario would have done.

Admittedly, Palin's thoughts were less her own than those of her tutors.  But she made statements and is responsible for them, the apparently prescient as well as the silly.  And she was, almost proudly, ignorant. But a prediction made by someone unaware of the international situation is even more impressive if borne out, and is certainly more damning of the President of the United States.

Or it would be if it had been accurate.  Steve M. of No More Mister Nice (see blogroll on right) explains

Or, um, her speechwriters could. Or, to put it more precisely, they could see an imminent crisis that, as it turned out, wasn't so imminent. And in the same speech, the words they put in Palin's mouth condemned in advance what's turned out to be the greatest foreign policy triumph of the Obama presidency, the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed. 

Let's start at the beginning. In a speech on October 19, 2008, Joe Biden predicted an early foreign policy crisis in an Obama presidency:

"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you – not financially to help him – we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we’re right."

Two days later, in what The Weekly Standard called "prepared remarks" -- translation: Palin wasn't the author -- the Alaska governor did a riff on possible foreign policy crises that might result from Obama policies. Now, please note two things: 

First, Palin's speechwriters were predicting a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine "next," presumably in (to use Biden's words) the first "six months" of an Obama presidency. It's more than six months since Barack Obama became president, according to my calendar. 

And second, Palin's speechwriters were condemning an invasion of Pakistan without the country's assent -- which is precisely how Osama bin Laden was killed.

(Transcript of Palin remarks via the Standard -- emphasis mine. Video is at the end of the post.)

Did you hear what Senator Biden said at a fundraiser on Sunday? He guaranteed that if Barack Obama is elected, we'll face an international crisis within the first six months of their administration. He told Democrat donors to mark his words - that there were "at least four or five scenarios" that would place our country at risk in an Obama administration. Thanks for the warning, Joe!

He didn't specify what all those four or five scenarios will be, but for clues, let's review the Obama foreign policy agenda.

Our opponent wants to sit down with the world's worst dictators. With no preconditions, he proposes to meet with a regime in Teheran that vows to "wipe Israel off the map." Let's call that crisis scenario number one.

Senator Obama has also advocated sending our U.S. military into Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government. Invading the sovereign territory of a troubled partner in the war against terrorism. We'll call that scenario number two.

He opposed the surge strategy that has finally brought victory in Iraq within sight. He's voted to cut off funding for our troops, leaving our young men and women at grave risk. He wants to pull out, leaving some 25 million Iraqis at the mercy of Iranian-supported Shiite extremists and al Qaeda in Iraq. By his own admission, this could mean our troops would have to go back to Iraq. Crisis scenario number three.

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 Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine next. That would be crisis scenario number four.

But I guess the looming crisis that most worries the Obama campaign right now is Joe Biden's next speaking engagement. Let's call that crisis scenario number five.

(Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that Palin also criticized Obama's plan to withdraw from Iraq in that speech. Hey, Sarah, are you going to call for us to send troops back in now?)

So Sarah Palin knew that an invasion of Ukraine in 2014 would occur in 2009.  More remarkably, though maintaining it would be because a President Obama would signal weakness to the Soviet Union, she just knew Victor Yanukovych would become Prime Minister of Ukraine in 2010, reject an Association Agreement with the European Union and instead turn toward Russia.  She foresaw that helping spur an overthrow of Yanukovych and replacement with an individual friendlier toward the West would result in ethnic strife in the western portion of the nation, offering Putin an excuse for invasion. A world-class psychic.

That would be the same Putin (video below from YouTube; video here from Fox Nation) whom Palin says chooses "to exert huge power and dominance."   But applying the description of "huge power and dominance" might not be a negative to the self-proclaimed "mama grizzlie," who told Sean Hannity "Look, the perception of Obama, of him and his potency across the world is one of such weakness. People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.”  See those hormones rage!

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