In an early act of cultural appropriation, circa 1900, Theodore Roosevelt, then governor of New York, borrowed the West African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Since then, this has become the cornerstone of American diplomacy and countless John Wayne-style westerns.
The West’s response to Putin’s blatant aggressive and posturing, like a dog on heat, has been decidedly tepid. Their big stick has been more of a hoary old divining rod that twitches every so often, hopefully indicating a way forward.
Hanging over the European nations, particularly Germany, is that fact that they have supped with the devil in seeking cheap gas supplied via a pipeline direct from Russia. The result has been a few threatening statements and the flying in of a few extra weapons. Oh yes, America did send a lightly armed battalion into Poland, more than 1000km away from any frontline. The main weapon in the West’s response arsenal has been the threat of sanctions.
Sanctions never stopped Hugo Chavez nationalising the filthy rich Venezuela into economic oblivion.
Sanctions never gave a moment’s pause to Mugabe and his thugs as he stole elections through mass killings and intimidation and drove his country into miserable irrelevance, sucking off the desiccated hind tit of SA to survive.
Sanctions never stopped the Ayatollahs of Iran from spewing jihadist bile and continuing their nuclear weapons program.
Sanctions never stopped the young un of the hermit kingdom from growing fat on the backs of his people’s starvation while playing Solitaire Megalomania with his nuclear program and ICBM’s in his private bunker.
Sanctions never diverted the course of destructive socialism during the nigh-on 60 years of the Castro family’s ideological rule.
Closer to home, sanctions never caused the old Nationalist government to waver in the least in their racial beliefs and, in fact, served as a useful propaganda tool at election time. Their kragdadigheid (forcefulness or hard-arsed attitude) in the face of international opprobrium served to drive all the fence sitters into their camp to deliver the largest majority that the Nationalist Party had ever seen.
Sanctimonious sanctions don’t work. All they do is to provide those governments with a fig leaf to hide the embarrassment of their shrivelled-up impotence. They are as irrelevant to the course of history as that flimsy piece of paper that Chamberlain waved when he claimed a “peace for our time” after a meeting with Hitler in 1938.