Yes, I know the meme is cliché. But clichés become cliché because they capture some basic truths.
Have any doubts? Just compare Putin’s speech on Crimea to Obama’s speech in Brussels. Compare what Lavrov says to what Kerry says. Compare the different versions of the various phone conversations between Obama and Putin released by the Kremlin and the White House, most especially the readouts of yesterday’s conversation: the immediate question is “are these people talking about the same phone call?”
Obama is all about diplomacy, community, talk, de-escalation, agreement on mutually beneficial terms. Putin is all about grievance, righting historical wrongs, battling dark forces (i.e., Ukrainian fascists and Nazis and Western interlopers), winner take all.
The reason their conversations seem disjointed is that they are. They start from totally different premises, totally different world views. They are talking past one another.
Oh. And Putin is doing more than talking. He is acting.
And this means that Obama’s Vensuian lets-talk-about-it-and-get-to-win-win approach is utterly without foundation. For it presumes that your would-be interlocutor and partner-to-be is operating from the same assumptions, premises, and world view as you are.
When that’s not true, the jaw-jaw Venusian approach will be about as constructive as any conversation between two parties speaking mutually incomprehensible languages.
And what’s more, the advantage in this type of contest between Mars and Venus is decidedly on the Martian side in the realm of international relations, where third party enforcement is absent. Especially when the Martian side can deploy little green men on its doorstep against a far weaker neighbor.
Before writing this, I Googled “Putin is from Mars Obama is from Venus,” to see if anyone had used this meme recently. I didn’t find that on the first several pages of search results, but I did find several pieces saying that the US (and hence Obama) is Mars, and Europe is Venus.
Yes, the US-and even Obama-are positively Martian compared to the Euros. And that’s precisely a major problem. Because it means that the Euros are absolutely dead-set against doing anything to confront Russia. And Obama is completely willing to defer to them.
And the worst offender is the nation that was once the most militantly Martian on earth: Germany. Rather than recognize the similarities of Putin’s Russia to the bad Germany of old, and understand the need to oppose and deter such conduct, Germany is hell bent on imitating its appeasing opponents of decades past.
Two depressing articles tell you all you need to know.
My knowledge of Greek and Roman mythology is inadequate to figure out what Europe (and especially Germany) are if Obama is Venus to Putin’s Mars. I guess I have to back further. To Egypt. Because Germany is from Denial.