Monday, February 14, 2022

Strong, Empowered Women Take the World Stage

Fortunately for us, journalist Anne Applebaum knows exactly what is wrong with Western Ukraine diplomacy. As it happens, her prescription is the problem, but let’s not worry about that for now.

More important is the fact that Applebaum seems to understand that the West is sending incompetent and unqualified females to do diplomacy with the strong Russian men. 

Remember all the times that we have heard about strong, empowered women. Well, apparently, these strong empowered women, backed up by a platoon of Biden administration girly men, get slapped down when they make the least foray into the arena of international diplomacy.

Obviously, Applebaum has chosen to solve the problem by telling them how to be really, really tough. I trust that Russian men are quivering in their boots. After all, when threatened with dread sanctions last week, Vladimir Putin sent out a flunky to explain that he did not give a shit about sanctions.

Anyway, this is not a new story. Remember when Hillary Clinton, the ultimate in girl power, became Secretary of State-- another job for which she was blissfully unqualified-- and had her first meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Wanting to show how strong and empowered she was Hillary handed Lavrov a plastic toy which supposedly was marked with the Russian word for Reset-- meaning that she wanted to reset Russian policy after the bad things that the bad Bush administration had done.

You might recall that Lavrov looked at the toy and declared that the State Department experts had gotten the translation wrong. No one seemed to notice at the time, but Lavrov was slapping Hillary down. He was making her look like a fool on the international stage.

But, it was not the first time that America had gotten burned by its absurd infatuation with girl power. Recall, if you are of a certain age, the lead up to the first Gulf War. Before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait he sat down for a meeting with the American ambassador to Iraq.

President G. H. W. Bush had sent a school marmy creature named April Glasspie to represent us in Baghdad. How could anyone fail to notice that Saddam might have taken her strong empowered presence to be a gross insult, an attack on his self-esteem. Did Glasspie’s weak demeanor provoke Saddam into invading Kuwait? We do not know. We do know that it did not prevent him from doing so.

So, the march of strong empowered women advances. One reason Europe’s knickers are in a twist over Russia is because strong empowered Angela Merkel chose to shut down her nation’s nuclear power plants, and to make Germany dependent on Russian natural gas. So, Germany is not exactly in the position to call the Russian bear’s bluff.

As for Great Britain, where the Boris Johnson prime ministership is imploding and where former advisor Dominic Cummings has been announcing that the fault lies with Carrie, that is, Mrs. Johnson, who has far more influence on the hapless Boris than she should. Naturally, the sisterhood is up in arms about this, because it seems to shift the blame from Boris to a woman.

Anyway, now we have the case of Liz Truss, who had widely been touted as the next Tory prime minister. So, last week, the strong empowered and highly qualified Truss went off to meet with the Russian foreign  minister, the better to defuse tensions over Ukraine. 

Applebaum described it as a major calamity. Apparently, the strong empowered Truss was no match for Sergei Lavrov. 

For those who have never heard of her, Truss is the lightweight British foreign secretary who went to Moscow this week to tell her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that his country should not invade Ukraine. This trip was not a success. At a glacial press conference he likened their conversation to “the mute” speaking with “the deaf”; later, he leaked the fact that she had confused some Russian regions with Ukrainian regions, to add a little insult to the general injury.

So, how does strong empowered Applebaum propose to deal with the Russians? She wants Western diplomats to threaten them with sanctions, to welcome the cutoff of Russian natural gas, and to beat their chests. Thump, thump....That this would be an exercise in utter futility does not seem to have entered her strong empowered brain.

And she adds, that the Russians do not care about reputation at all. This is absurd. Of course, they do. When Putin took over Crimea under the nose of the weak and ineffectual Barack Obama, a part of the calculus was to show who was really strong and empowered. And to enhance Russia's reputation.

After all, the American Pentagon, while sending troops to the Russian borders, is also hard at work fighting against climate change. It is also fighting a war to advance the cause of diversity, inclusion and equity. After the debacle of its Afghanistan surrender, it is hardly in a position to do more than to bluster.

Consider this analysis of the effectiveness of sanctions, offered by the Libertarian Institute:

Rather than leading to a peaceful resolution of tensions, sanctions have the opposite effect. Countries are often hesitant to make concessions in exchange for sanctions relief as the US has proved to be an unreliable negotiating partner, backing out of deals with North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Libya. 

Unable to negotiate a way forward, frozen conflict has been created between the United States and a litany of ‘adversaries.’ After years of unproductive penalties, the hawks will claim the ‘peaceful’ option of sanctions has failed and the targeted regime is simply too unreasonable to be dealt with non-violently – as is increasingly the case with Iran. The long duration of sanctions allows DC’s foreign policy Blob to firmly establish narratives such as ‘Uyghur genocide,’ ‘Iran’s nuclear weapons program,’ and ‘Saddam’s WMDs’ into the American consciousness.

Importantly, countries never concede to sanctions because it damages their reputation. Has China caved to sanctions? Now that we have sanctioned China, suddenly the supply chains are in crisis, China is developing new relationships with Iran and Russia, and, by the way, the fentanyl keeps coming. You might believe that it would be a good idea to negotiate with China over these issues, especially the fentanyl issue, but this is difficult to do while we are trying to destroy their largest private company. Duh.

The strong empowered Applebaum does not understand the importance of reputation in foreign policy so she ignores the issue completely. 

By all appearances, using sanctions as the only policy tool, bespeaks weakness. It also tends to be self-punishing. 

While the strong empowered femosphere tells us to be tough and more virile toward Russia, because we can certainly compensate for the loss of Russian natural gas by sending over tanker loads of liquid natural gas, my old friend John Dizard remarked in his Financial Times column on Saturday, that there is another problem that attaches to the gas problem. That is, the fertilizer problem.

You see, natural gas produces a great deal of the best fertilizer. And guess who controls the fertilizer market in Europe? You guessed it, Russia.


Dizard explained:

It has now dawned on EU authorities that the union’s agonising dependence on Russian natural gas will be compounded by Russian companies’ market power over fertiliser. As one Eurocrat told me this week, “You do not get a Nobel Prize for seeing this fertiliser situation as a threat to Europe’s food security.”

Now there is strong sentiment among some in Brussels to respond to such a threat, perhaps through legal challenges and competition proceedings. This comes after the announcement this month that the EuroChem Group has made a binding offer to buy the nitrogen fertiliser and chemical assets of Borealis, now owned by OMV, the Austrian oil and petrochemicals company.

As a European fertiliser industry executive pointed out: “This will make EuroChem the second-largest fertiliser company in Europe, after Yara [of Norway].” The home country of EuroChem’s management and the core ownership group are in Russia, which, by the way, just imposed a two-month ban on its own fertiliser exports that ends on April 1.

But, if European crops are compromised by the lack of fertilizer, they can always buy grain on the open market. Don’t you think? Well, not so fast.

Dizard explains:

Easing the immediate pressure on European food supplies by importing cheap foreign grain will be a challenge. In recent years Russia moved from a communist-era grain importer to one of the two most important grain exporters in the world, along with Ukraine. To maintain plentiful domestic supplies, however, Russia has also restricted grain exports for several months. Given that prices of wheat and other cereals in the EU were already up between 38 and 59 per cent on the year, that is not good news for Europeans.

Europe may lack fertiliser, but it has plenty of trade lawyers and experts who know how to manage official trade proceedings. There have been murmurs in Brussels about challenging Russia’s fertiliser export restrictions at the World Trade Organization. But as one European official admits: “That would take four or five years, and for what?”

Yes, indeed. They might have natural gas and fertilizer and grain, but we in the West have lawyers and other assorted experts. And, we also have the metaverse. Don’t say that we are not strong and empowered! And, of course, we are also green.

Dizard concludes:

Of course Russians have lawyers too. And the truth is that it’s not EuroChem that caused Europe’s gas and fertiliser crunch. The member states decided among themselves that they did not want to drill for more gas on their own territory. The carbon impact of European gas use was just being shifted to politicised Russian wells and pipelines and expensive LNG imports from the US or Qatar.

Oh, and before the deep green people in the room suggest a virtuous switch to “organic” fertiliser, variously defined, they should keep in mind that grain crop yields per hectare decline by nearly half when dressed organically.

Europe has great technology strengths. But gas and fertiliser do not come from a virtual reality headset. Russians had a strategy, and they have executed it.

The bottom line is this. If strong, empowered Anne Applebaum, the queen of bluster and bluff, believes that Putin does not care about reputation, we may safely conclude that it is all about reputation. It’s about showing who is in charge, who has the strongest hand and who is playing from weakness. It’s about the rising East, seat of manly values, facing off against the weak, decadent, girlified West.


Anonymous said...

Maybe we should send some of our transgender women to negotiate with the Russians?

370H55V said...

Demonstrating once again that pussification is an existential threat.

Anonymous said...

Or,is it an existential treat?

370H55V said...

Happy Valentine's Day.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you... and a Happy Valentine's Day to all.

370H55V said...

Speaking of, did you see this, Stuart?

I never heard of her, but I sure won't miss her.

lynney62 said...

Until people all over the World finally wake up to the scientific proven fact that women have a biological makeup of "softness, feelings first", putting women in charge will always bring inherent weakness. The biological make up of a male (who is not a feminized male) is "strength through power, war, if called for, strength expressed can protect/prevent war" ....The sad thing for me is that Feminists do not realize that they can accomplish more goodness in their World by having/holding a STRONG family together.

Anonymous said...

Sigal Barsade: Researcher of the obvious to those of us in the real world:

In one study, she showed that emotions and moods are contagious — that we unconsciously mimic the expressions and demeanors of those around us. She gave groups of people a task to complete together; unknown to the participants, she also assigned one person in each group to express a particular emotion — to lean back and scowl or lean forward and smile.

Condolences to her family on her early demise, but reall, this is what passes for research at Wharton?