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Pray for them
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-04-06 08:29:13
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What happened at the last NATO summit in Romania is known and hundreds of pages have been written from experts and analysts. All of them agree on one thing, George W. Bush has failed in many senses, but most of all he has failed with his ten year foreign and defense policy.

Over the last ten years, in a very arrogant way, George W. Bush’s administration made enemies even between friends, especially traditional friends and allies such as the Europeans, but his biggest mistake was demanding loyalty, not to America, but to his agenda and his agenda was always dark and doubtful for the European allies. George W. Bush didn’t just fail in the NATO summit, his whole policy failed. Ukraine, Georgia and FYROM were to pay the hardest part of this failure, all filled with empty promises returning home empty-handed and, in the case of FYROM, embarrassed as well.

However, the big question now is not what George W. Bush did but what the next president will do with what she or he will be left to deal with. Months before the end of his final term as President of the United States this administration seems to be in a real frenzy to do everything. Everything they are sure their democratic replacement will reject. And that if the new president of USA is a Democrat because if it is McCain not much is going to change… on the contrary, things in some cases might get - let’s say more - tense! Thinking about it, it is most likely that this administration’s advisers did another mistake by assuring them that McCain is the next man on the throne and Hillary with Obama has no chance at all.

But then again if it is a democrat leader, one who has promised that the boys will come home, one who has promised respect to human rights and democracy, then things are getting tough, very tough! The presidency of the United States is an institution with continuation and the next administration will have to accept and honor the things this administration signs. The next president cannot say, I’m sorry I didn’t sign this; but that means that the biggest part of the new term is going to be spent honoring things that often didn’t agree with. The only hope the new president has is to have, besides the seat of the president, a strong Congress to support her or him so he/she can cancel the agreements he/she doesn’t agree with. Complicated situations with a lot of politics and sensitive balances because, other than a democratic Congress, they will need Republicans with a lot of understanding and this will be difficult.

At this moment it looks like American politics is shared between the war hawks and the welfare state supporters, there is no meeting point between those two and definitely the Republicans will do anything possible to make the next president’s life, if Democrat, hell. I’m wondering what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are thinking about all that; are they prepared for what they have to face and most of all have they got ready solutions, suggestions? In the next summit of NATO, a new American president will sit and will have to deal again with Russia.

Regarding Russia, this administration did something unbelievable for the Russians; it gave them strong motivation to rebuild the old empire. Russian leadership often felt cornered from the Bush administration, especially after seen the Americans getting involved in internal politics of dormer soviet democracies and most of them becoming members of the former villain of the Warsaw Pact, NATO. Some of them even crossed the lines from former allies to become worst enemies like Poland. This definitely motivated the Russian administration to prove that the bear is still here standing up strong and healthy and oddly Putin did it.

Remember the days of Yeltsin, Russia was far from her old self, a superpower on her knees ready to do anything the Americans allies would ask. But this was the beauty and the cleverness of Bill Clinton, instead of pushing them further down he gave a hand to help them stand up and this is the ugliness of this administration, if George W. Bush could he would push them even lower. And that was what the stubborn former soviets need it to motivate them and stand up alone.
After the 9/11 incidents President Putin was the first to give a hand, the first to run and help and the first to join the alliance that struck the Taliban’s Afghanistan, but then it looked like George W. Bush missed his opportunity to establish a world power accepted even from the old enemies and with a lot of help from the then defense minister Donald Rumsfeld. By the way the very same man advised and provoked the isolation from the traditional European allies imprisoning foreign American policy into alliances with the doubtful and insecure former Soviet democracies and their often extreme right governments.

But returning to the basic question, for the next few months this administration is going to continue acting in the same frenzy, most likely continuing making the same mistakes leaving the next administration honor them, there is only one thing left to say, something President Truman said when they announced to him that he was the president …boys, pray for them!

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Emanuel Paparella2008-04-06 11:36:21
Indeed, Thanos, perhaps that prayer: “Boys pray for me,” which Truman requested in 1945 upon hearing that he was now president, can be deconstructed to “pray form them,” them being the Communists, but that is certainly not what he meant. When Pope John Paul II became Pope, he also said “pray for me” to his cardinals. That request too could perhaps be deconstructed as “pray for them,” them being the Communist leadership in Poland subservient to the Soviet Union, and perhaps this time it was meant. On the other hand Gerald Ford in 1976 during a televised presidential debate against Jimmy Carter said that Poland was “independent and autonomous from the Soviet Union.” When pressed Ford responded that “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.” Those misstatements cost Ford the presidency to Carter who also upon becoming president said that his prayers had been answered. But of course it displeased the Soviet Union which dominated Poland and much of Eastern Europe but liked to believe that all the members of the Warsaw Pact, like those of NATO, were all happy campers in the Warsaw Pact Alliance and believing that it proceeded to invade Afghanistan to make it another happy camper. Unlike today’s pusillanimous political leaders Carter carried a successful boycott of the Olympic games of 1980 because of that unjustified invasion. Now NATO is in Afghanistan. Ah the ironies of history. In any case, that Poland and Czechoslovakia were never happy campers is proven from the eagerness with which they joined NATO and the EU. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-04-06 11:44:14
What is the point of the above musings? Nothing really, except to point the nexus between the ironies of history and the power of prayer, or if one prefers, the power of armies and the weakness of prayer ("how many divisions does the Church have?" asked Stalin). Vico for one would not call it prayer but Providence acting immanently within human events independent of the intentions and even the prayers of the powerful of this brave new world deluding themselves that they are in total control…, but that’s another story.

Emanuel Paparella2008-04-06 22:12:49
P.S. A short sequel on prayer:

The four stages of Prayer:

1. I talk, you listen.
2. You talk, I listen.
3. Neither talks, both listen.
4. Neither talks, neither
listens: Silence.

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