- Accents #
- Pulse of Week #
- Art of Living #
In the past few years, and especially in recent months, Barack Obama and the Americans had to get rid of a number of illusions. The political crisis in Ukraine imposed by Russia turns into a Rubicon for the “pigeon” foreign policy and leftliberal ideas about reforms in the US economy.
It should be mentioned that it would quite inappropriate to call Obama a “spineless pacifist” or a “political loser”. The reelected President of the United States is not a priori a loser and can try to implement his most daring dreams. On one condition, though.
He should have the majority in the chambers of Congress. In other cases, especially when interparty antagonism increases, the maximum legal capacity of president and executive authorities would be a blockade of their competitors’ initiatives. In the worst case (if both houses are lost at the zenith of the first or the second term) the president may start collecting exhibits for his museum and work on memoirs for the Library of Congress. Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush faced a similar problem at the time. And now Obama experiences the same difficulty with the control of Congress.
The Democrats lost the “supermajority” in 2010, the House of Representatives is now controlled by the Republicans. The Democrats maintain shaky dominance in the Senate. It is shaky because the conservative Democrats have no enthusiasm about the most radical initiatives of the president, and he cannot manage without their support. This fall there will be an election of almost a third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives. And the results are not encouraging for the Democrats yet: according to a Gallup survey, the level of support for Obama’s policies is close to 44%, while in 2012 he received 51.1%.
All this happens against the background of the ongoing painful crisis of party ideology and staff crisis in the US: new faces, politicians which are strong enough to handle the presidential race are still barely noticeable among both the Democrats and the Republicans.
First of all, the level of scandalization in discussion of political processes and events has been constantly increasing since the middle of the 1990s, and the tone of heated arguments between American politicians, commentators and activists approached the corny abusive level. This is due to the loss of moral authority, the fact that the generation of the WWII veterans is resigning from politics, the generation of “baby boomers” who served in Vietnam is aging. In particular, this is why Ukraine has been such a shock to the average American who is used to petty propaganda and shallow political debates.
It turned out that somewhere on the periphery of the West, people compose a new epic of freedom, the good and evil cross their swords, and someone is looking at America in its traditional role – the leader of the democratic world. Someone still sees it not like a condominium of eternally dissatisfied customers fighting obesity and sexual harassment in offices – after all, Americans used to see themselves like that.
Secondly, the Democrats felt that an average American is still not ready to move to European socialism, and became much more cautious – social reforms are carried out in stages. And this displeases the leftwing voters of the Democratic Party. The Obama administration is a blade runner – it pursues the useful “politics of the future”, while a relative majority of citizens continues to vehemently demand implementation of their populist fantasies.
Nevertheless, unemployment rates are gradually declining, demand is gradually increasing, and the economy is gradually developing – the average quarterly result in terms of Obama’s presidency (2009 – 2014) is 1.4%. “Gradual growth” is the main cause of neuroticism of an essential part of American society. And despite the voters’ traditional orientation on internal politics – this time Ukraine and global “rings on the water” caused by the Maidan, Crimean crisis and aggravation of relations with Russia is almost a panacea for the social ills in America.
AMERICA’S NEW REALITY
Russian threat is presented as a threat to the West and the United States in particular. It helps to remember that extraction of gas from shale rocks will be expanded in Eastern Europe (and Ukraine). In addition, the US has major interests in extraction of gas in the Black Sea shelf. Responding to the Russian threat even Japan started extracting shale oil, and America’s ally – Qatar – is even ready to export it beginning with 2015. Russia’s aggressive policy in Eastern Europe causes direct blow to economic interests of the US. Protection of Ukraine and return to Syria (through which gas can be transited from the Gulf countries to the EU) turn into the key geopolitical interests for Washington.
Moreover, Ukrainian crisis allows Obama finally find a common language with the military and industrial complex and get lawmakers’ support for his Keynesian government programs.
Obviously, the spirit of “Atlantic unity” is restoring at accelerated pace with all the same old reasons. For many years the leftwing liberals could not understand why the world needs the NATO needs – after all, the USSR collapsed. Therefore, the NATO was turning into a bureaucratic organization and a club for retired politicians. Invasion of Crimea and provocation in Donbas mobilized the organization.
Moreover, there is a shift of power within the NATO and the EU – in favor of “young Europe”: Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic. Consequently, the old Europe, which previously flirted with Moscow and tried to save on military spending, has to seek for the grace of Washington. George W. Bush and his Iraqi campaign, which ruptured the NATO, is forgotten the wiretapping scandal is not that commonly discussed – especially now that these troubles can be attributed to the Russians, and Snowden can be officially branded as its spy. Because it turned out that the Soviet Union did not go anywhere, but only was reduced in its territory.
And finally, the stiffness in Ukrainian issue helps American voters forget about the White House’s mild position on Syria and flirting with the Kremlin. After all the Republicans were planning to base their campaign on the marshy reform in health care. Now such intention is gone.
The young generation of American political scientist can smell the game – the revival of neoconservatism is in the air, such leftliberal “mastodons” as Henry Kissinger and Stephen Cohen have seriously erred, and now there is a chance to sell them for scrap.
Diplomatic, informational and economic war and the arms race is beneficial not only to Vladimir Putin. All this is sobering to the West, reminiscing about its core values. Finally, it is the confrontation with the “grim eastern tyranny” that will write off the transaction costs of the inevitable changes in the world order in favor of increasing globalization.
But if Barack Obama and the Democrats cannot cope with these tasks – defeat would await them at the fall election. Because American voters despise weaklings, even if they are guided by the best intentions.
KAWAII ATTORNEY GENERAL
Perhaps the most paradoxical echo of the recent events in Ukraine came from Japan. 34-year-old Natalya Poklonska, appointed by the self-proclaimed Crimean government to the office of the Prosecutor General in early March, became the star of Japanese anime.
There was no particular political implication for it – the secret of her fame is that she looks like an anime character: her large eyes, features, and her hair meet the standards of female beauty in Japanese animation (“kawaii nyan” and “mimimi” in general). On March 13 the video of Poklonska’s press conference was posted on Youtube – within a month it got more than 1.8 mn views. On March 15th, the Japanese news blog RocketNews24 highlighted several photographs of Poklonska and reported that a fandom surrounding the prosecutor had formed among Japanese netizens. The number of anime drawings dedicated to Poklonska on the Internet is countless (some of them are openly pornographic). The viral meme returned to Russia and Ukraine like a boomerang.
Poklonska herself, learning about her popularity from the media, only added fuel to the fire, saying: “I am the prosecutor here, and therefore I will not tolerate any nyash, myash and what not”. So now nyash-myash has turned into a separate meme. Some fans even dedicated to Poklonska their songs Akh, kakaya nyasha prokuror Natasha (Natasha is such a nyan prosecutor) and posters (Pobeda budet nyasha!).
We would like to note, that other citations by Poklonska are not so “nya”: “I want my child to live in an honest country, and not in the treacherous Nazi state occupied by banderivtsi. I was ashamed to be the citizen of that state”.
We would also like to recall that the first Ukrainian heroine popular among anime fans was Yulia Tymoshenko. In Russia such popularity was previously enjoyed by the girls from t.A.T.u. band and the Sochi 2014 Olympic champion Yulia Lipnitskaya.Printable version