Cartoon a bear in the prime of its maturity is protecting its small cub, which shows the sanguinary mark of a recent attack on its young neck; ringing them about are a toothless old bulldog, a splay-hipped Alsatian, and a degenerate-looking poodle, none of whom appears to be especially keen on bearding the powerful bruin on its own turf, bay as they might from a distance. High in a tree some way off, perches an eagle, its feathers soiled and ruffled, its talons grasping a tuft of blood-soaked fur, its eyes unnaturally bright with the fire of frustrated rage. The terrible beak is agape and menacing as it shrieks its fell commands to the reluctant canines down below. The caption reads: Fuck the world!
The Americans are coming! The Americans are coming. . . Apart!
The contrast couldn't be more glaring. Putin: forceful, determined, deft; Obama: weak, vacillating, inept. There IS a tide in the affairs of men, as Shakespeare's Brutus noted, and that tide has left Obama in the shallows where he belongs. Obama is the captain of a ship that was headed for the rocks long before he came on board. Could he have turned it around, as per his pledges? Could he have adjusted the ballast and stopped the list toward militarism. Or could he have, Canute-like, turned back the mad tide of inflated dollars that is the underlying cause of all America's recent conflicts? Perhaps he could have, but he chose not even to try. Why rock the boat?
Then came the rocks. First Putin stole a march on the One by rescuing Snowden, to much of the world's applause. The irony was consummate: Russia's former spy master upstaging the snooper in chief under the banner of openness and freedom. While Obama fumed, Putin basked in Snowden's reflected glory.
Then the judo master's adroit statecraft in Syria caught the One with his pants down. Kerry and Co. had their Persian rug, red line and all, pulled right out from under them by the Russian master weaver.
Now after the Ukraine fiasco, the pants are off and the One stands exposed in all his naked hypocrisy and aggression. The London Financial Times is exhorting Obama to use his "preferred weapon" of diplomacy in the Ukraine. Better to "jaw jaw than war,war," it recites. Churchillian diplomacy may be Obama's schtick but it means nothing without Teddy Roosevelt's Big Stick. And the USA has neither stick nor carrot anymore. Its pseudo wealth has finally caught up to its pseudo strength. So The One is done and Putin has won.