Reality has a way of intruding, interfering with political hopes and ambitions. The realities of the past week in Egypt and Libya are so clear that they have propelled at least a few European liberals to what they surely regard as an ugly realization that challenges one of liberalism’s most precious dogmas.
Since the beginning of the Cold War, liberals here and abroad have always wanted to cut the American superpower down to size. America, in their view, should submit its foreign policy to the learned guidance of its betters among the EUnuchs and the UN. The U.S. should be made to reform, to end its unilateral exercise of power, to drop its cowboy attitude and work harder to get along with its adversaries.
Now they have what they wanted: an American president who has consistently worked to limit American power and has submitted our foreign policy to the judgment of the EU and the UN. Obama went to war in Libya at the request of France and after his first defense secretary said there was no American national security interest in play. He — and his second defense secretary — emphasized that the action was undertaken pursuant to authority granted by the UN, not by our Congress. He bows to foreign kings and emperors, insists on decimating the Pentagon’s budget and “leads” from the rear.
Last February Obama said, “One of the proudest things of my three years in office is helping to restore a sense of respect for America around the world, a belief that we are not just defined by the size of our military.” Liberals all over the world should be celebrating the fact that America is withdrawing from its superpower role. Everything is working out just as they’ve wanted, right?
Well, not so much. America’s withdrawal has created a vacuum part of which is being filled by radical Islam. In the past week, there have been riots and attacks on American targets in more than twenty nations.
Now there is a small glimmering of recognition that maybe, just maybe, the world needs the American superpower.
This week’s issue of the devoutly liberal Economist magazine contains the first recognition of the problem the liberals have created. Insisting that the “Arab spring” is broadly moving that part of the world to democracy, an Economist editorial declaims that in the “many years” it will take for the Arab nations to become democracies, “America will remain essential to progress.”
The Economist opines: “Libya’s relative success was largely thanks to American firepower at the start of the campaign against the Qaddafi regime.… America is needed to put more pressure the Gulf monarchies it supports to loosen up their political systems.” It calls for more American financial aid, contingent on economic reform, which it says “could make a huge difference.”
In the same issue, another Economist article calls for American airpower to establish a no-fly zone over Syria to suppress the regime’s use of its own airpower and give the Syrian rebels a chance. But only, of course, after we get UN permission to risk American lives and pay the costs.
Why doesn’t France do it or, better still, Saudi Arabia, which has hundreds of combat aircraft and capable pilots? Because they fear Syria’s allies — Iran and Russia — more than they care about what happens to Syrian people. They want us to take the risks.
What Economist revealed is what liberals here and throughout Europe have always denied: if America doesn’t project its power in its own interests and those of our allies, no one else will. We are a nation indispensable to their freedom as well as ours.
The events of the past week prove redundantly that the world will descend into war and chaos if America continues along Obama’s path of retreat from leadership and opposition to evil.
Obama is, to coin a term, the unleader. His diplomacy consists of rhetoric unsupported by the threat of military action. And that rhetoric is aimed more at changing our — and our allies’ — behavior than that of our enemies.
Israeli pleas for support against Iran are met with gauzy assurances of our solid support but nothing more. Hillary Clinton has said that we have no time limits for diplomacy to work on Iran. Just yesterday, Obama’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, said on Fox News Sunday that the only way to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program is for Iran to decide to give it up. Diplomatic efforts have never succeeded in changing the Iranian regime’s behavior, and won’t now.
Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons since the regime took power in 1979. Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Iran is six months away from having enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb. Unending diplomacy won’t lengthen that time.
We learned last week that Obama has failed to attend more than half of his daily intelligence briefings. Policy unsupported by the best intelligence is mere guesswork. Obama’s policymaking is ideological, independent of facts, a willful ignorance that borders on criminal negligence. Disorder, indecision, and increasing danger of a huge war are the results of Obama’s unwillingness to lead.
The attacks on our Cairo embassy and the Benghazi consulate are prime examples. Intelligence community sources confirm that we had intelligence warnings of the attack on the Cairo embassy that preceded the event by several weeks. Several reports say that Libyan security officials warned of the Libya attack days before it happened. Some of that information had to filter into the president’s daily briefings. What did Obama ignore and when did he ignore it?
In these cases, real leadership — at a minimum — would have taken steps to protect our diplomatic outposts by withdrawing personnel or reinforcing our security forces. Neither Obama nor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took those actions. Now, the Sudan has refused us permission to reinforce security at our embassy. But Obama won’t pull our people out.
American leadership might not have prevented last week’s attacks, but it could have prevented the assassination of our ambassador to Libya and the deaths of the three men who accompanied him.
Iran is proceeding with its nuclear weapons program in another Obama-created vacuum. Obama has refused to even meet with Netanyahu to discuss possible action against Iran. Obama and his allies insist that we have drawn a “red line” against Iran by saying that we wouldn’t tolerate Iran having nuclear weapons.
What that means is that we won’t take any action against Iran until it has developed — and, possibly, deployed — nuclear weapons capable of destroying Israel. Given the gaps in our intelligence community’s ability to penetrate Iran, Obama won’t know if it has actually built nuclear weapons until well after the fact. A real American leader would prevent that from occurring, not promise to react to the event when it happens, when it will be far more costly in blood and treasure to face.
What has dawned on Economist’s editorial writers won’t be recognized by our media before the November election, or perhaps for years to come. It goes too far to challenge the most basic liberal ideology for anyone here to take notice. But what comes after?
Thomas Cahill, in his How the Irish Saved Civilization, provides the answer. On the last day of December 406, the Rhine froze solid, creating a bridge for hundreds of thousands of barbarians to flood into Rome. Rome had fallen from its superpower status long before the city fell to the barbarians. The gradual abdication of the only superpower of its day left a vacuum that was filled by chaos for more than a thousand years.
The world moves at a much faster pace now than it did then. The November election will be our choice between remaining the only superpower defending freedom or leaving the world — and our interests in it — to whatever forces choose to fill the vacuum Obama is creating.