Filed under: Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Military, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: Russia and Ukraine, The Rise of al Qaeda, The World Demands Attention
So many of us on the right have felt we were confronted by a puzzle. The left was caught up in a bubble of ecstasy about their president. No superlatives were too extreme. After the Cairo speech in June, 2009, Newsweek editor Evan Thomas gushed ” I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above, above the world, he’s sort of God.”
Thomas added ,”He’s going to bring all different sides together … Obama is trying to sort of tamper everything down. He doesn’t even use the word terror. He uses extremism. He’s all about let us reason together…He’s the teacher. He is going to say,’now, children stop fighting and quarreling with each other.’ And he has a kind of a moral authority that he—he can—he can do that.”
Republicans were puzzled by the bubble. Republicans have been proud of some presidents and some candidates, but are not given to hero worship, and quick to point out flaws. Unfortunately. Democrats still worship FDR, sure that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that he saved the country from the Great Depression and from Hitler and Tojo. So they believe in intent, and are not given to analyzing the results — but we knew that.
Republicans thought Obama did not have the experience either in the private sector or in managing anything — no executive experience — to be successful in the presidency. Democrats, desperately aware of their own long dismal history with race, jumped on any lack of enthusiasm for the Obama presidency as a clear example of racism. If you didn’t think Barack Obama was beyond criticism, then you clearly were opposed to having a black man as president and you were a racist.
That’s getting harder to maintain as President Obama’s claim that he is “on the right side of history” has crumbled in the wake of his ineptness in foreign policy. He was famously caught ‘off mike’ telling then-president of Russia Dimitri Medvedev that “he could be more flexible after the election.”
Paul Mirengoff sums it all up very effectively at Powerline, in a piece titled “Barack the Surprised.” Mr. Mirengoff sums it up: “Obama’s biggest mistake is to ascribe his own ambivalence towards America to the world at large.” He quotes Leon Wieseltier in the New Republic in a piece titled “The Inconvenience of History.”
[T]he richest of the ironies about Obama’s foreign policy is this: the world that in his view wanted to be rid of American salience now longs for it. It turns out that Obama’s Iraq-based view of America’s role in the world, according to which American preeminence is bad for the world and bad for America, is not shared by societies and movements in many regions.
They need, and deserve, support in their struggles. (In Syria, for example, the tyrant enjoys the significant support of Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, the Islamist rebels enjoy the significant support of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the moderate secular rebels enjoy the significant support of nobody.)
There are many places in the world where we are despised not for taking action but for not taking action. Our allies do not trust us. Our enemies do not fear us. What if American preeminence is good for the world and good for America?
Obama brought to the presidency a view that George W. Bush was responsible for most of the troubles in the world, and the United States was unnecessarily involved in the world. Obama told us he had a better understanding of the world because he had lived in Indonesia as a child, visited Pakistan, and his father was from Kenya. His opposition to everything Bush led him to want a much smaller military, less involved.
It was a shock to many when in the wake of Putin’s takeover of the Crimea, when Ukraine begged for help we sent MREs and military-type socks.
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to warn of playing politics with military readiness in a dangerous world. Al Qaeda is on the rise, encouraged by a passive White House. Panetta is speaking softly, but attempting to wake up those in charge.
While the temporary two-year budget deal in Congress provided some short-term stability, it failed to repair the extensive damage to readiness. There is simply no slack left in the system if the U.S. must respond to another crisis abroad.
In a troubled world, both our friends and our enemies will take note if we reduce our military readiness. No one questions the capability of our troops, our weaponry or our technology. What they do question is whether our democracy can function effectively to ensure our strength.
We have been told by those who know Obama that he does not change his mind. That does not portend well for the next 2½ years. Obama’s interest is focused on the midterm elections, not the world as it is.