Sunday, December 26, 2010
Obama Has Lost the World
After the 2010 elections, it's not exactly news that Obama has lost America. But in a less public referendum, he also lost the world. Obama's cocktail party tour of the world's capitals may look impressive on a map, but is irrelevant on a policy level. In less than two years, the White House has gone from being the center of world leadership to being irrelevant, from protecting world freedom to serving as a global party planning committee. Even the Bush Administration's harshest critics could never have credibly claimed that George W. Bush was irrelevant. He might have been hated, pilloried and shouted about-- but he couldn't be ignored. However Obama can be safely ignored. Invited to parties, given the chance to show off his cosmopolitan sophisticated by reciting one or two words in the local lingo, read off a teleprompter, along with some cant about the need for everyone to pull together and make the world a better place, and then dismissed for the rest of the evening.
As a world leader, he makes a passable party guest. He has a broad smile, brings along his own gifts and is famous in the way that celebrities, rather than prime ministers and presidents are famous. On an invitation list, he is more Bono than Sarkozy, Leonardo DiCaprio not Putin. You don't invite him to talk turkey, not even on Thanksgiving. He's just one of those famous people with a passing interest in politics who gets good media attention, but who has nothing worthwhile to say.
The only countries who take Obama seriously, are the ones who have to. The leaders of Great Britain, Israel and Japan-- who have tied their countries to an enduring alliance with America based on mutual interests and values, only to discover that the latest fellow to sit behind the Oval Office desk no longer shares those values and couldn't give less of a damn about American interests. It's no wonder that European leaders ignore him as much as possible. Or that Netanyahu visited America, while Obama was abroad. Or that Japanese politics have become dangerously unstable.
On the enemy side, the growing aggressiveness of China, North Korea, Iran, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda can all be attributed to the global consensus that no one is at home in the White House.And if no one is at home in the White House, then that's a perfect time to slap the big boy around the yard. China is doing it economically, the rest are doing it militarily. They're all on board with Obama's Post-American vision of the world. But unlike him and most liberals, they have a clear understanding of what that means. The America of some years back, which actually intimidated Libyan dictator Khaddafi into giving up his nuclear program, without lifting a hand against him is long gone. So is the Cedar Revolution. Syria and Iran are back in charge in Lebanon. And in Afghanistan, the Taliban are laughing at our soft power outreach efforts.
Obama's soft power approach emphasizes the 'soft' and forgets the 'power'. It neglects even Clinton era understandings about the role of America in the world, and reverts instead to a Carter era sense of guilt that bleeds into hostility toward American interests and allies. While the rest of the world puts their own interests first, they act like a cog in some imaginary global community, turning and turning toward the distant horizon of international brotherhood. While China, Russia and most of the world walk down their backs and up their jellyfish spines, laughing all the way. And America's allies gird themselves and prepare for the worst.
From the first, this administration has curried favor with America's enemies by betraying and humiliating its allies. But these hideous acts of moral cowardice have not won Obama the approval of America's enemies. Only their contempt. And a Nobel Peace Prize from a committee of elderly left wing Swedes, awarded not for any accomplishment, but for the lack thereof. For being a man without a country, a leader without a spine and a representative of America who gives no thought for the interests of that country.
Now that the Koreas stand on the brink of war, Iran continues its drive toward a nuclear bomb, Al Qaeda is going global, Hezbollah is on the verge of taking Lebanon and Mexico is on the verge of imploding-- the impact of America's absence on the global stage is all too clear. The countless cocktail parties and toasts have not changed the world. All they've done is highlighted the transition of the White House from world leadership to global party guest. Trip after trip has ended in photo ops and policy failures. Instead Obama is stuck dumpster diving into the futile quest for a Palestinian state, not because such an entity will make the world any better, but because it will make him look good.
Obama has no mandate at home, and he has even less of one abroad. America's enemies do not fear him. Only our allies do. Kim Jong Il does not sit up nights worrying what Obama will do. Because the consensus in North Korea, Iran and the rest of the world is that the sea will rise, the sun will set and Obama will do nothing. Except maybe write a strongly worded letter, offset by some quiet backchannel diplomacy from his coterie of international left wing stooges reassuring the offender that, "No, Barry really isn't mad at you. He's just concerned. Really, really concerned."
Liberal pundits mock the rough and ready style of conservatives like Reagan, Bush or Palin in world affairs, but what they fail to realize is that the over-educated naivete, trendy cosmopolitanism and buzzword rich approach of a Kerry or Obama come off as laughably pathetic on the world stage. Republicans might be hated, but they can't be ignored. Democrats on the other hand are catspaws and pawns, fools who are so sure of their cleverness and determined to embrace every culture in the way that only the graduates of Ivy League institutions can, that any Third World vendor could twirl them around his fingers.
World leaders are rarely liked, but effective ones are respected. And effective world leaders don't lead with appeasement, don't compromise before the other side has even made an offer and negotiate on behalf of their country, rather than some intangible global consensus. They understand that they represent a country, not a popularity contest. They don't travel abroad to be adored or be greeted with parades and gifts, but to achieve tangible results on specific issues. To do otherwise is not to be a world leader, but a celebrity who happens to have picked up a big title along the way.
To be a proper American president on the world stage, means choosing to be respected, rather than liked. Obama always chooses to be liked, rather than respected. Because respect comes from accomplishment and character, while 'liking' is a function of appearance and image. Aiming to be 'liked' is playing to Obama's strengths. But being liked is irrelevant outside of an afterschool special. World affairs is not a networking seminar, it is a negotiation between countries who have billions of dollars and millions of lives on the line. And Obama has no idea how to play that game. Like the kid who never fit in anywhere, he's still trying to be liked. And he's willing to sell out American interests and allies to get the cool UN kids to like him.
Unfortunately Obama's irrelevance is also America's irrelevance. A Republican House of Representatives cannot do what Obama should be doing. And any attempt to show strength gets shouted down by the liberal punditocracy as treason and undermining the White House. As if anyone, anywhere could undermine Obama internationally as much as he undermines himself. The same liberals who considered Ted Kennedy's treasonous offer of cooperation with the Soviet Union or Kerry's trip to Latin American Marxist terrorists to be acts of courage, damn Republicans who supported allies in Ecuador and Israel as traitors. And so Obama must have a free hand to do it all on his own. To do what Kennedy or Kerry could have only dreamed of.
Obama has lost the world. He has made the country that he claims to represent into a shadow of its former strength and glory. And his irrelevance endangers American lives. Not just those of soldiers in war zones, laboring under restrictive Rules of Engagement, written so as not to offend Muslims. Not just those of Americans at risk for domestic terrorism under an Attorney General who sympathizes with terrorists, more than with Americans. But to everyone living in a world where countries like North Korea and Iran feel free to do what they want, where our economic rivals such as Russia and China advance their interests and their espionage, and where terrorists across the Muslim world grow in boldness and number because they have no one left to fear anymore. In America and around the world-- Barack Hussein Obama endangers us all.