A taciturn man, Calvin Coolidge the 30th President of the United States (1923-1929) was given the nickname “Silent Cal”. It is said that when the writer Dororthy Parker, noted for her quick wit, was told he had died, she asked “How could they tell?”
Figuratively, the somnambulistic current US president is sleepwalking through his term of office. Ascribed to a long ago predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, the expression, ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’ epitomized US power. But a feeble use of that stick or using it for support is unlikely to evoke fear or bend countries to US will. Not that such an approach is likely to yield staunch allies anyway.
At present, long time ally Pakistan is clearly unhappy at the courting of its arch rival India. Pakistan itself is hardly inconsequential, a nuclear armed country of 250 million with a large army, its Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, recently called the Pakistan-US relationship event driven. Her meaning she explained as, whenever there is an ‘event’ and the US needs Pakistan, ties become closer — a bad weather friend so to speak.
Fashionably dressed, the Amherst educated Ms. Khar’s choice of Jimmy Choo stilettos, a Birkin bag and other suitable attire were much remarked upon in India … although not in China (which foregoes such frivolities) during the course of a recent four-country tour. As is quite transparent from her recent comments about the US, she does not mince words.
Almost on the other side of the world there is Ukraine. It was getting along as best it could until a Russia friendly president was elected. The US organized a coup and, when it could not garner European Union support, Victoria Nuland the US representative in Ukraine notably remarked, “F**k the EU” and went ahead anyway.
When you are half a world away and Russia is next door, and when you did not tolerate nuclear missiles in Cuba (Kennedy’s time), why would Russia sit idly by with a dagger aimed at its heart. It did not. And a thought or two please for the poor suffering Ukrainians who would probably give an arm and a leg for the status quo ante.
Then there is climate change. Our esteemed president noted that unlike his predecessor who called it a hoax, he believed in global warming … and then went to sleep. The same goes for his oft-stated — during the debates with Donald Trump — intention to replace, over time, fossil fuels with renewable energy.
Given all the energy sector jobs not easily filled through renewable energy and given world events like Ukraine, pragmatism won. The Europeans stopped buying gas from Russia at US behest and relied on the US to supply it. After all, Biden had forced them off Russian dependence for their energy needs.
And so the world on the cusp of existential suicide continues to expel CO2 in copious amounts. What can an individual do but at least try to curtail personal use of energy.
Awareness, a little history, a little relevance, and above all a little humor is needed for as Schopenhauer observed, “Humor is the only divine quality of man.”