One could make the case - and Dinesh D'Souza has quite convincingly - that President Obama's policies for much of the world reflect the anti-imperial activism of his Kenyan father and, to a lesser extent, his Indonesian stepfather. Thus, his non-response to the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria. Thus his retreat from Iraq without leaving any forces behind. Thus his leaving the fight against Al Queda in North Africa to the French. Thus his ineffectual and ambivalent treatment of the war which he escalated in Afghanistan. Among the progressives on the left and many libertarians on the right, this is OK. There is too much global discord for us to settle it all.
But what about the "leading from behind" strategy in the rest of the world? What will eight years of President Obama do to the military and economic Pax Americana that has existed since 1945? There are plenty of clues:
- With all of the histrionics about the impact of the sequester on the social safety net, there has been nary a peep from the Commander in Chief about the impact on the military. The closest thing has been the call of narrowly-confirmed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for "fundamental (downward) Pentagon spending changes".
- The decennial change of leadership in China has received little fanfare in the United States, but it no accident that the first foreign trip of new President Xi Jinping was to Moscow. Or that China is beginning efforts with Australia, Brazil, Russia, and Iran to replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency.
- From Vladimir Putin's perspective, the Eurozone's confiscation of Russian deposits in Cyprus, with the blessing of the American-led International Monetary Fund, stimulates a rethinking about Russia's place in the world at a time when the Obama administration has demonstrated its "flexibility" by cancelling the planned Eastern Europe missile defense shield - with no quid pro quo. The Russians have reason to be offended, and latitude to respond.
- And what of the remaining two members of George W Bush's "axis of evil"? North Korea and Iran barrel ahead on their paths to become realistic nuclear threats. Realizing that the American "nuclear shield" may no longer be operable, Japan and South Korea are taking first steps to develop their own deterrents. Without a credible assurance of American protection, the same will undoubtedly happen in the Sunni world once Iran crosses the threshold.
It's not a pretty picture. Maybe the world will move slowly or the House and Senate will be able to exert real pressure on President Obama's military and foreign policies. Maybe there is enough financial strength in the European and American economic systems to retain primacy for a decade or two. But don't look to Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Chuck Hegel to usher in a new era of American global leadership. Quite the opposite.
For this week's video we have NBCs Brian Williams expressing shocked surprise that Obamacare's requirements for extended coverage without real cost containment are driving double digit rate increases. Next step - price controls.
bill bowen - 4/5/13