In just five years, Barack Obama has succeeded in crippling the American economy and shattering the world order under the Pax Americana.
Americans feel the grave economic effects of his domestic policies more immediately and urgently, but it is the shattering of the world order that will ultimately change their lives for the worse.
President Vladimir Putin found that “he could annex Crimea without firing a single bullet”. He has good reason to think that “he will later be able to do the same with the rest of Ukraine”. But he will probably “wait until the situation worsens and the impotence of the United States and Europe becomes even more obvious”.
That is part of the picture of the crumbling world order, described here by Professor Guy Millière (of the University of Paris), at Gatestone.
[Putin] apparently considers that he has in front of him a weak and declining America. And the general demeanor of the present U.S. administration tends to prove him right. The United States seem in full retreat. U.S. military budgets continue to fall. For the last five years, Barack Obama spoke of “ending” the wars in which the U.S. was involved, and he depends on Russia’s cooperation for further negotiations with Iran, for dismantling chemical weapons in Syria, and for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Putin doubtless thinks that Obama will not enter into an open conflict with Russia. Sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States are insignificant, and Putin has every reason to think they will not increase. …
[He] evidently considers Europe even weaker than America. The way European leaders speak and act shows that he is not wrong. For decades, Western European countries relied on the U.S. defense umbrella; none of them today has an army capable of doing more than extremely limited operations. Their foreign policy positions converge with the Obama administration positions. They all have deep economic and financial links with Russia and cannot break these links. The UK needs the Russian capital invested in the City of London. France cannot cancel its Russian warship contract without having to close its shipyards in Saint Nazaire, and without being confronted with major social conflicts. Germany could not survive long without Russian oil and natural gas. Overall, Russia provides thirty percent of the natural gas consumed in Western Europe. Putin apparently thinks that Europe will not enter into an open conflict with Russia. …
Either the West will stand up to Putin, and it will have to do it fast, or Putin will win. Obviously, Europe will not stand up. Polls indicate that Americans are turning sharply toward isolationism.
Showing his view of the situation, Obama recently said that Russia is nothing but a “regional power”, acting “out of weakness”.
What is Russia’s “region”?
Russia covers ten time zones and has borders with Europe, the Muslim Middle East, China, North Korea, and Alaska.
Yes, Russia has a common border with the United States. The US is in its region.
If massing troops on the borders of Ukraine and annexing Crimea are signs of “weakness,” by its evident impotence, America appears even weaker.
Will Putin be content with annexing Crimea, or even the whole of Ukraine?
Several plebiscites have been held since 2006 in Transnistria, a strip of land between Ukraine and Moldova, and each of them has indicated a willingness to join Russia. Estonia includes a large Russian minority, and Russian leaders in Moscow speak of the need to “protect” the Russian population of Estonia.
Estonia is a member of NATO. If Russia were to attack it, NATO, according to Article 5 of its charter, should defend it with prompt military action. But would it? NATO’s military power is America’s military power. Under Obama,what chance is there that America would go to war in Europe?
The world order built after the Second World War was shaped by America. For almost five decades, its goal was to contain Soviet expansion. In the late 1980s, the Soviet empire collapsed, and another phase began: an arrangement in which America would keep the peace and assure the survival of liberty.
America has apparently abrogated that responsibility.
And if Russia is not deterred, other powers will be encouraged to advance their interests abroad by force.
Rogue leaders around the world are watching and drawing their own conclusions.
[The Iranian Ayatollah] Khamenei sees no reason to stop saying that America is the “Great Satan” and that Israel has to be wiped off the map. China sees no reason to hide its intention to occupy the Senkaku/Diyaoyu Islands. Last week, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un fired six missiles into the sea of Japan. [President] Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela reaffirmed its alliance with Russia and positioned Russian missiles in Caracas.
Guy Millière predicts that the chaos will increase and speed up. He sees disaster coming fast.
If we do not see the Ukraine as a warning signal, we could quickly discover that life could now easily enter the state of nature in Hobbes’s Leviathan: [solitary, poor,] nasty, brutish and short.
We are in principle against intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. But we are not for isolationism or pacifism – we regard either philosophy as a formula for national suicide. If other countries become belligerent, build up their armed strength, send their warships towards our shores, establish bases in countries on our borders, and declare their aggressive intentions towards us, the politics of those countries become our business. That is happening now. We are under threat – because Obama is deliberately weakening America. And his reaction to the result is to weaken America even more.
The conditions for major war develop much more easily when the U.S. is too weak. They are developing as we speak.
To a meaningful extent, the significant increase we’ve seen in unrest around the globe since 2010 has been made possible, and inevitable, by the retraction of American power. Even where we still have power in place, it has become increasingly obvious that we aren’t going to use it.
We quote from a website interestingly named Liberty Unyielding. The article on the extreme folly of the Obama administration’s moves to weaken America is by Commander Jennifer Dyer, now retired from the US navy. (Her own blog is at Theoptimisticconservative.wordpress.com):
The collapse of order in the Arab nations in 2011 was the first significant stage of the process. The perception that the United States would do nothing about a Hezbollah coup in Lebanon was tested in January of that year. The perception proved to be true, and when protests erupted in Tunisia and Egypt, for causes both natural and manufactured, a set of radical Islamist actors – the “establishment” Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni jihadists, Iran – saw an opportunity. The establishment Muslim Brotherhood has largely won out in Tunisia, but the battle still rages among these radical actors for Egypt, Syria, and now Iraq. Lebanon is being incrementally sucked into the maelstrom as well.
In multiple venues, Russia has watched the U.S. and the West effectively back Islamists in Russia’s “near abroad”: in Turkey (with support for the now struggling Erdogan government); in the Balkans, especially Bosnia and Kosovo; and in Syria. …
There was a time when the implicit determination of the U.S. to enforce the “Pax Americana” order – the post-World War II alignments of the region – held Russia in check. The Russians still derived some security benefit from that order, after all … It appears to me, however, that 2014 will be the year in which it becomes clear that, according to Russians’ perception, they no longer benefit from the old order. If we’re not going to enforce it, Russia will do what she thinks she has to.
In fact, Moscow’s pushback against the plan for Ukraine to affiliate with the EU constitutes just such a blow for perceived Russian interests. It is of supreme importance for Westerners to not misread the recent developments. The EU and the U.S. did back down when Russia pushed hard last fall. The only ones who didn’t back down were the Ukrainian opposition. I predict Vladimir Putin will try to handle the opposition factions cleverly, as much as he can, and avoid a pitched battle with them if possible. He respects what they are willing to do. But he has no reason to respect Brussels or Washington.
And that means he has more latitude, not less, for going after the regional props to the old order, one by one. As always, Russia’s inevitable competition with China is a major driver, along with Russia’s concern about Islamism on her southern border. The whole Great Crossroads – Southwest Asia, Southeast Europe, Northeast Africa, the waterways that snake through the region – is, if not up for grabs, at least in ferment. Look wherever you like: there are almost no nations where there is not a very present menace from radicalism, or where governments and even borders are not gravely imperiled by internal dissent.
Israel is the chief standout for politically sustainable stability and continuity. Romania and Turkey seem likely to at least retain their constitutional order in the foreseeable future, but Turkey’s geopolitical orientation, in particular, is less certain. Greece and Kosovo – even Bosnia – have serious internal problems. Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia all remain in crisis at various levels. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are relatively stable, and the Arab Persian Gulf states relatively so as well. But their neighborhood is going downhill fast. Iran is riding a wave of radical confidence, and the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan.
In this tumultuous region, it’s actually a little funny that Pakistan looks stable and staid compared to Iran, Afghanistan, and neighbors west. We can hope that Islamabad’s perceived need to maintain a symmetrical stance against India will keep Pakistan’s loose federation of intransigents federated, and the nukes under central control. But as we move across South Asia, we near another boiling pot. Thailand – long an American ally and pillar of stability in the region – has been rocked in recent months by national unrest of a kind not seen in Southeast Asia for decades. Islamist radicalism is a growing threat in Indonesia, and an unpacified one in the Philippines, after more than a decade of U.S.-Philippines collaboration in fighting it.
And, of course, China is making real, transformative moves against regional security with her proclamations about air space and maritime rights off her southeast coast.
This disruptive process, like the battles for many of the Arab nations, is already underway. We’re not waiting for something to happen; it’s started.
China assumes, quite correctly, that there will be no effective pushback from the United States. But two other nations with power and means will regard it as intolerable for China to dictate conditions in Southeast Asia: Japan and Russia. The dance of realignment among these nations has implications for everyone in Central Asia and the Far East. The day may be on the horizon sooner than we think when maintaining a divided Korea no longer makes sense to at least one of the major players. The day is already here when Chinese activities in Central Asia are alarming the whole neighborhood, just as Chinese actions are in the South China Sea. …
Russia and Iran are advancing on the US through Central America:
It’s no accident that as radical leftism creeps across Central America (falsely laying claim to a noble “Bolivarian” political mantle), the maritime dispute between Nicaragua and American ally Colombia heats up – and Russia shows up to back Nicaragua and Venezuela – and so does Iran – and unrest turns into shooting and government brutality and violence in Venezuela – and Hezbollah shows up there to openly support the radical, repressive Maduro government.
Now Iran has a naval supply ship headed for Central America, very possibly with a cargo of arms that are not only prohibited by UN sanction, but capable of reaching the United States if launched from a Central American nation or Cuba.
We’re not still waiting for the shocks to start to the old order. They’ve already started. I haven’t surveyed even the half of what there is to talk about …
She looks at the latest defense cuts with dismay and considers what the consequences will be:
This is the world in which the United States plans to reduce our army to its lowest level since before World War II, and eliminate or put in storage much of its capabilities for heavy operations abroad (e.g., getting rid of the A-10 Warthogs, moving Blackhawk helicopters into the National Guard). It’s in this world that DOD proposes to cease operating half of our Navy cruisers, while delaying delivery of the carrier-based F-35 strike-fighter to the Navy and Marine Corps. These cutbacks come on top of cuts already made to training and maintenance expenditures in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force that will affect unit readiness for years to come. …
Then comes what should be a shocking observation:
By cutting back on defense so drastically, America is deciding, in essence, to “fight fair”: to give whatever opponents emerge more of a chance to kill our soldiers, damage our interests, and drag out conflicts. …
That would be hard to believe of any American leadership – until now. It is ludicrous. Worse, it is lunatic. But Obama has never concealed or disguised his wish to weaken America’s military capacity.
The decision “to further limit our capabilities to use power in politically relevant ways” will result in “even more global unrest: more conflict, more shooting, more blood, more extortion and political thuggery menacing civil life in the world’s poorer and more vulnerable nations”, and that cannot be good for America. The point is that -
These unpleasant trends will spill over into civil life in the wealthier nations soon enough …
As it has, she points out, in Ukraine, Thailand, and Venezuela, “whether directly or through second-order consequences”.
Peace and freedom have to be tended constantly; they are not the natural state of geopolitical indiscipline, but its antithesis. …
We’re extraordinarily unprepared for the world that is shaping up around us. …
[And] a world that doesn’t want quiescent trade conditions, tolerance of dissent, the open flow of ideas, and mutual agreements, peacefully arrived at, will not have them.
That’s the world we are sentencing ourselves, for now, to live in. Perhaps we will learn from the consequences how to think again: about what it takes to guard freedom, and indeed, about what freedom actually is.
It is Obama who needs to think again, but there is no reason to hope that he will. It could hardly be more obvious that he does not care for freedom.
The war 5
Among the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls there is one titled The War of the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness.
It is a perpetual war: Good against Evil.
It is fought in most of the world’s mythologies, and in almost all of them Good will win in the end. (The exception is that of the Norsemen. They foresaw the triumph of Evil.)
Dennis Prager, writing at Townhall, describes how the two sides of the conflict appear to him now:
In both personal and public life, you can know a great deal about a person or a group if you know what most bothers them – and what doesn’t bother them.
A news item this past week made this point with glaring clarity. It reported a meeting that the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights had on Friday. Before revealing the subject of that meeting, let’s review for a moment what is happening in the world …
North Korea continues to be an affront to the human species. That North Korea, whether or not it had nuclear weapons, is not a central concern is an indictment of humanity.
That the West, with the noble exception of Canada under Stephen Harper, is appeasing the dictators of Iran, is an indictment of the West.
Add to this list the U.N.’s and the world’s ignoring of the Chinese government’s continuing suppression of all dissent and its decades-long violent eradication of Tibet’s unique and ancient culture.
Then add the slaughter of millions in Congo over the last decade, the 100,000-plus killed in Syria just last year, most of them civilians killed by their own government, and the blowing up, burning alive, and throat-cutting of untold numbers of innocent people by violent Islamists on a daily basis.
In other words, if what bothers you most is evil – the deliberate infliction of cruelty on people by people – North Korea, Congo, China, Syria and radical Islam will bother you more than anything else on the world scene.
So, then, what was the subject of the meeting convened Friday by the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights?
The alleged racism of the name of the National Football League’s Washington team, the Redskins.
That’s right. All these horrific evils are happening as you read this, and … the United Nations had a meeting about the name Washington Redskins.
The U.N. is not alone in paying undue attention to the Redskins’ name. The left in the United States is nearly obsessed with it. President Barack Obama has spoken out against it. The Washington Post editorial board has demanded that the team drop the name. In the herd-like way that governs media, innumerable columnists and sports writers have written passionate columns against the name, and increasing numbers of sports writers have vowed to never again write or speak the name.
This left-wing obsession with a non-evil exemplifies the left’s moral universe. That universe is preoccupied with lesser evils while nearly always ignoring the greatest evils.
Preoccupation with real evil is the greatest difference between right and left. The right was preoccupied with fighting Communism while the left … was preoccupied with fighting anti-Communists.
The right today is preoccupied with fighting Islamism; the left is preoccupied with fighting “Islamophobia.”
One way of putting it is that the right is preoccupied with fighting evil and the left is preoccupied with fighting those who fight evil.
The right is preoccupied with defending Israel against those who wish to annihilate it. The left is preoccupied with Israeli apartments on the West Bank.
This difference was made manifest last week in the address given by the one world leader to exemplify the right’s preoccupation with evil, Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper. Talking about all the condemnations of Israel, Harper said:
“Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening.”
Yes, but the writer does not go nearly far enough. The Left is not merely preoccupied with fighting those who fight evil, it is occupied with doing evil. The Left is in alliance with Islam. Its (bewilderingly unintelligent) intelligentsia invent a fake need to “save the planet” from “climate change” as an excuse to advance their own tyrannical rule, reduce population, and impoverish and destroy civilization.
And where are our warriors of the Right to stop them? Let’s see: there’s Stephen Harper and … Well, a few more names may spring to mind. And we do have the immense power of Reason on our side.
Which side is winning, would you say?
This information was given to us as a comment on our post Saved from Communism – and flourishing (September 15, 2013) by our reader – and citizen of Chile – Carlos. It confirms the two reports we quoted, which praise Chile for its spectacular economic achievements since 1973. But it is also a reality-check and corrective to their optimism, because it also tells the distressing story of how the Left is trying to sabotage the system that worked so well and return the country to failed collectivist policies:
The information you cite on this post is correct. The country I grew up in was entirely different from the one my parents knew. Latin American nations have always been poor in ways someone that hails from the Anglo-Saxon world can’t fathom, and it’s been like that since the Spaniards came hundreds of years ago.
My parents, the son and daughter of poor country workers (the kind that toiled the land without technology or electricity), are now medical professionals, wealthy, and have traveled to all continents. It’s the kind of story you hear in those once poor third world countries that lead free market reforms, or about first generation immigrants that arrive to the US as paupers and then, after some decades, amass the kind of wealth only a small percentage possess in their countries of origin.
Besides [and because of] having the highest per capita income of the region, the people of Chile surpass others in South America on eating and drinking alcohol, so much that, just like the US, obesity and diabetes are a major health concern of all ages.
With all this, you would think that the Chilean people would be happy and elated about their progress …
Yes, progress – because obesity and diabetes are bad effects of eating too much, not too little …
… but that could not be farther from the truth. The political consensus, accepted by pretty much everyone, is that the Chilean economic system is immoral and awful; a system built on “inequality and greed”.
Like in the US and Europe, the political Right has abandoned the Universities and intellectual spheres, leaving them to the Left to reign supreme. Socialism of all stripes is discussed on all political talk shows, while the greatest and most successful economic reforms in Chile’s history (the greatest reduction of poverty in recent years, for one) are scorned as “neoliberalism” and not egalitarian, and capitalists are despised with the same animus as your lefties [in the US] inveigh against the “one percenters”.
While the European welfare states are teetering, the people here hate the privately managed social security, accusing them of being thieves. The general belief here is that if something, whether minerals, forests, social security funds, etc., is owned by the State it is the property of everyone, which is good (no matter how much it costs or how much the national debt rises), but if it is private then someone somewhere is stealing from them (with commodities this is believed even if the prices are low).
This thinking is also applied to education.
Throughout 2011, huge protests broke out clamoring for free university education and the end of the voucher system for funding school education for poor families. The protesters were led by a member of the Communist Party, who was acclaimed and embraced by the fawning media. The protests ended up with more than a thousand policemen injured (beaten, burned by molotov bombs, etc.) and damages to schools on strike (by their own students, if not older members of left wing fanatic groups) that, according to the Minister of Education, amount to the cost of building 11 all-new schools.
Street violence is now a staple of the national life, with policemen attacked with a shower of rocks, molotov bombs, and acid (yes, ACID). Even the horses that policemen use have been the subject of horrible knife cuts. The last protest to commemorate the 40 years of the coup ended up with a policeman with his face (nose, teeth, cheek) destroyed by a rock blow, as several others had their hands burned with acid. (See videos of the riots here – where a fallen mounted policeman is stoned – and here and here.)
All of this without counting the crude and disgusting language the police are subject to by the crazed mass that revels in violence.
The two greatest universities of the country are hostile grounds for Presidents of all stripes. Years ago, Ricardo Lagos, a Socialist President, was verbally abused in the Law faculty of the University of Chile and paint was hurled at him for the crime of not been socialist enough. And just three or two years ago, the current President, Sebastián Piñera and other political colleagues where attacked in the Catholic University of Chile by a group of students that behaved like a group of crazed baboons hooting and jeering.
The “secular religion” of the Left, besides the sanctification of the “Dear Leader”, is the adoration of the martyrs of the Revolution.
At the tax payer expense, a Museum of the Memory was built to commemorate all the 3000+ victims of the Pinochet dictatorship, all under a language of Human Rights violations. Of course, there is no mention of Allende’s association with the Soviet Union, one of the greatest Human Rights violators ever, only surpassed by others that applied the system of Scientific Socialism, which Allende and the Left adhered to and admired. There is no mention, also, of the more than 400 police and military men that were murdered by the paramilitary groups; no mention of the human disaster that Allende government was (with a ridiculous high inflation, shortages of the basic victuals, rationing lines, out of control political violence, aggressive taking over of land and industries, the State controlling most of the economy); no mentioning of the language the Left used during Allende’s reign: the threat of violent Revolution, and, most disgusting of all, the claims that, after killing the men of the Bourgeoisie, they would take their women ‘to the bed’, a nice and blithe euphemism for rape.
Our Communist Party has expressed, openly, their grief for the passing of the lunatic dictator Kim Jong-il, and gave vocal support to the Assad regime on the glorious duty of massacring their own people (a very Communist endeavor, you know). These horrendous, ignominious, disgraceful acts in support of murder and evil that boggle the mind are met with total (yes, that is the word) indifference by the general populace, while Pinochet’s dictatorship is routinely condemned.
Michelle Bachelet, a member of the Socialist Party who governed Chile between 2006 – 2010, will return again as a candidate for the next election. While in her first mandate she tended to be Center-Left, supported by a somewhat moderate coalition, and applying as much fiscal sanity as a Socialist can have, this time she comes at the head of a new political group that includes the Communist Party and is bent on changing the “Neoliberal” system, increase taxes and all the litany of reforms that scares investors and ruins long term economic projects. She enjoys the support of nearly 40 – 45% of voters, mostly because of her motherly appearance and the fact that she is a woman.
The problem with Chile is that, as Ayn Rand would say, its very core, its spiritual, cultural and historic center, is complete and powerfully rotted with Altruism. It is embedded in the national soul. Its roots lie, I believe, with the Catholic creed, and is something that most Chileans embrace. This allows for any right, any value to be sacrificed on the altar of the Collective, Public, Tribal good.
This is the reason I am writing this to you, because I think that in some years, Chile will utterly fail in its quest for economic development, and it will be a disaster.
Economic liberalism, individualism, is the antithesis of Altruism.
The Left has learned NOTHING from the experience of Allende’s government: the living members of his administration have publicly refused to ask for forgiveness for ruining the economy and the coexistence of a nation that some three years before was peaceful and stable. The younger members of the Left believe that the CIA and the Right ruined the economy just to get rid of Allende. The lessons of History only apply to their enemies.
It is a very bleak picture that I have painted of the current situation of Chile, but it is one that any of us living here would profess, any of us that believe in freedom, private property and the secular Rule of Law focused on defending individual rights.
In authorizing limited strikes on Syria, Congress may inadvertently give its stamp of approval to an ideological revolution in the use of U.S. power. Our military can’t and shouldn’t be a global genocide watchdog.
So an Investor’s Business Daily editorial plausibly warns. It goes on, in part:
Obama’s pointless intervention in Syria could be a blueprint for a new leftist foreign policy, long championed by his new U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, in which America intervenes not to defend its strategic interests but to avenge victims of bloodthirsty thugs.
This comic-book internationalism would keep the world’s lone superpower busier than Superman.
Where do America’s armed forces go first to “change the course of mighty rivers and bend steel with their bare hands”? Zimbabwe, where Mugabe has tortured thousands? Nuclear-armed North Korea, the slave state where, under Kim Jong-un, over 40% of young children are seriously malnourished?
Or how about the mass murderers you’ve never heard of? Under Isaias Afewerki, in power for over two decades in Eritrea in northeast coastal Africa, thousands of young refugees have fled slavery-like indefinite national service — enforced by a shoot-to-kill policy — and government-tolerated human trafficking for sex and even organ extraction.
Over his quarter century in power, Sudan’s Omar Bashir has killed hundreds of thousands; thousands are being tortured today in Islam Karimov’s Uzbekistan, as tens of millions starve in Thein Sein’s Burma. …
We could add most other countries to the list. Only a minority of the world’s nation states are genuinely free democracies. (According to Freedom House’s 1973 through 2013 reports: Free, 90; Partly Free 58; Not Free 47.)
[Samantha] Power complains of “America’s toleration of unspeakable atrocities, often committed in clear view”, of Hutus slaughtering Tutsis, for instance. But America can no more save each of the world’s billions than it can give each of them green cards.
It is an extraordinarily ill thought-out idea, even for the ignorant and foolish people who now form the executive branch of the US government.
If it becomes policy for America to barge into every country that acts in a way a US administration dislikes, and if such a policy is implemented, it will mean that America will be engaged in perpetual war. Nation states will not allow invasion by self-appointed policemen or nannies in US military uniform to march in and take over. Or to subdue them with drones or missiles and then issue orders in conformity with American notions of human rights. They will defend themselves. There will be blood. There will be “collateral damage”.
It would take a Nobel Peace Prize winner to cause such global chaos.
David Solway surveys Obama’s abysmal record and the recent scandals that have engrossed those who’ve heard of them. He diagnoses the source of everything that has gone so very wrong for America since Obama came (absurdly!) to lead and injure the most successful nation on earth. It is Obama himself.
Here are some extracts (but read it all):
We have been reading of late of the blizzard of scandals that has buffeted the Obama administration. Every week or so a major storm wracks the political climate in the U.S., so much so that it is hard not to grow somewhat blasé. Whether it’s the odium of the Benghazi betrayal and ensuing cover-up; or the IRS training its sights on conservative and pro-Israeli organizations; or the DOJ seizing the phone records of News sources; or the Attorney General caught lying (or conveniently forgetting) about a subpoena against a FOX News reporter; or NSA snooping on Verizon customers … the time comes when we expect nothing less of a meretricious administration.
The scandals go back years: the Affordable Health Care Act passed in the middle of the night and encrypted in thousands of pages that nobody seems to have read; a multi-billion dollar stimulus project that didn’t stimulate anything; the defrauding of Chrysler’s secured creditors in favor of the UAW when the auto company went bankrupt; the Fast and Furious gun-running plan yet to be clarified by the Attorney General; the loans and grants to crony Green entrepreneurs who regularly fail to meet their goals and end up in default; the numbing disgrace of a Muslim outreach scheme that has seen known terrorists and dubious Islamic groups and individuals welcomed at the White House and operating to influence policy at the highest levels of government. The net result is always the same: a modest degree of public indignation followed by business as usual. …
The real scandal is Barack Obama himself, a man demonstrably unfit to be president of the United States, who makes the hapless Jimmy Carter and the sleazy Bill Clinton look like choir boys. The scandal is that America is being led by a man about whom we know all too little, who has placed his salient records under seal (including his original birth certificate) — a man who … is assiduously liquidating the economy; who is gutting the military while rendering it a politically correct monstrosity; whose foreign policy lies in shambles as he cozies up to dictators and theocrats or sits on the sidelines twiddling his thumbs; and who gives every indication of having managed to evade the responsibilities not only of his position but of genuine adulthood.
One might be forgiven for thinking of him as a paragon of cluelessness, except for the fact that, like a spoiled child, he is determined to get his way and has mastered the art of persuasion all along the spectrum from the temper tantrum to surreptitious appeal to feigned innocence — whatever works. … The child … is certainly precocious, shows himself adroit at manipulating both his peers and his elders, and has been educated by a battery of mentors whose outlook on the world is indisputably malign — theft masking as “social justice” and “redistribution”, antisemitism, unchecked spending, ends justifying means, the evils of free speech, deception as virtue, self-indulgence rather than duty and obligation. The president has been well schooled in the arts of his masters. … Barack Obama [is] … freighted with a leftwing agenda that has faltered everywhere save in his own sectarian mind.
Manifestly, he is not presidential material, not by any stretch of the most enamored imagination, as the country will belatedly learn to its own prohibitive cost.
America has put a disaster in the White House. … Under Obama’s leadership, the nation is in full retreat on every front, both domestic and foreign. Domestically, the debt and the deficit are rising exponentially; real unemployment remains staggeringly high and remunerative jobs are drying up, except for the burgeoning public sector and government sinecures; fiat money continues to be printed; a proliferating tangle of business regulations is garroting the economy; entitlement spending is creating an underclass of dependents and parasites that weakens the fiber of the nation; confiscatory taxes are shrinking the Middle Class; environmentalism-gone-mad is sapping productivity; and FBI training manuals are being scrubbed of references to the Islamic source of local terrorism and thus increasing the likelihood of jihadist atrocities on American soil.
The international theater is equally menacing. Obama likes to boast that al-Qaeda is on the run. This is true in a way, for al-Qaeda is indeed running — straight toward us. North Korea is exporting its nuclear technology to America’s enemies while America dithers. China is militarizing and expanding its influence in the Pacific. Russia is flexing its geopolitical muscles. Turkey is aiming for a neo-Ottoman Caliphate. The Palestinians are bloodsuckers on American largesse, offering nothing in return but self-righteous intransigence, a false historical narrative and systemic Jew-hatred. Egypt, Libya and Syria are imploding — the first two thanks to American meddling and the last — well, we recall that Hillary Clinton lauded Assad as a “reformer”. Iraq and Afghanistan are going rogue. Terror-sponsoring Iran is on the verge of nuclear capability and has made no secret of its enmity toward the U.S.
Meanwhile Obama does nothing but take vacations, preen on television, switch to campaign mode, target his local adversaries, appoint fools, political dandiprats and ideological doppelgängers to positions of power, and blab about “red lines” to no effect but his own embarrassment. …
We’re not sure that he is embarrassed, though he should be. But we delight in the writing, savor the “political dandiprats and ideological doppelgängers”.
Apart from pursuing a narrow and rigid social(ist) agenda, Obama is in way beyond his depth, especially in the field of foreign relations. Arguably, this may be his intention, to render the United States unrecognizable to itself and ultimately to turn it into an international laughing stock, a waning power no longer to be taken seriously. … But Obama’s glaring mismanagement of America’s interests may also indicate, perhaps no less plausibly, a feckless and myopic understanding of realpolitik and a complete inability to play with the big boys. His political immaturity coupled with his natural cynicism is equaled only by his bloated self-regard, and America’s adversaries have taken definitive advantage of the debilitating flaws of his temperament.
There should be no doubt about this in any rational mind. The various scandals plaguing the current administration are distractions. … There is a catastrophe afflicting the U.S. and it is summed up and embodied in the person of Barack Obama — his election to the Oval Office, the policies he has subsequently enacted, the vectors of his character on daily display, the progressively devastating consequences of his tenure.
“Let us make no mistake about this,” as the president is fond of saying. The greatest scandal of them all is the present occupant of the White House.
This is from Investor’s Business Daily, by Andrew Malcom:
In the satellite photo above on a typical night, note the bustling glow of South Korea and the power-less dark North.
Obama administration officials … rushed to play down their own recent announcements of defensive U.S. military movements in response to threats and provocations from the hermit kingdom of North Korea. …
As with Iran, President Obama has chosen a diplomatic path of international sanctions to discourage the weapons program. As with Iran, they haven’t worked. So, as with Iran, Obama has chosen to apply more of them.
This winter the North set off another underground nuclear test. Then, in recent weeks its officials grew increasingly bombastic, threatening South Korea, shutting down joint economic projects and talking of imminent war with the United States. …
Reports from intelligence posts, so sophisticated they can eavesdrop on conversations between individual troop commanders, were leaked to the media, telling of ominous military movements in the North.
This is familiar behavior for Pyongyang, which regularly ramps up tensions for domestic political reasons and to be mollified by shipments of food and fuel oil and loosening of currency and trade restrictions.
It’s also possible, given the youth and inexperience of the new exalted great leader, Kim Jung-un, that the bombast reflects an internal power struggle. Few senior officials – even their first wives – get to retire in North Korea. They get dead, like Kim’s grandmother when she’d served her purpose.
North Korea is a nation of about 25 million diminutive people, a result of long-term malnutrition to support one of the world’s larger armies. A single modest bag of rice can cost a month’s salary. Brutal concentration camps house an estimated 150,000 political prisoners and release no survivors. …
The most immediate threat from North Korea … is not yet to the American mainland. It’s to South Korea (the capital of Seoul is barely 30 miles from the North). And it’s to Japan, where the U.S. maintains considerable forces, and Guam, home to major Pacific B-52 and nuclear submarine bases.
Just days ago Pentagon officials touted the build-up as involving B-52 “training mission” flyovers of the South, the deployment of anti-missile naval assets to the area and Guam, F-22 stealth Raptor flights and long-range “Hey, watch this” missions of B-2 bombers capable of carrying standard or nuclear weapons. The displays and maneuvers were meant to “reiterate the U.S. commitment to the security of our allies and partners,” spokesmen said.
Voice from a sensible American: “Well done and well said! The iron will of Barack Obama on display. The only superpower on earth warning the potty little tyranny in North Korea to pipe down or else.”
Voice from the Obama administration: “Who said that? Why are you calling us a superpower? Don’t you know it riles all the countries of the Third World? Hurts their feelings? Suggests they are inferior? If we don’t treat them with respect they may come to hate us. Do you want to take that risk? Shut up!”
Now Obama officials appear to be caving to the North’s threats and bluffs.
“We’re trying to turn the volume down,” an unidentified [shivering] one told CNN.
“We are absolutely trying to ratchet back the rhetoric,” another worried official told the cable channel.
“We became part of the cycle [of belligerent talk and gestures]. We allowed that to happen.”
“Oh, we are covered with shame! Are our faces red! We are soooo sorry, Kim Jung-un! Please forgive us? Here – here are some shiploads of food for you and your henchmen. Here’s some oil. And a heap of money. And more apologies.”
All delivered with a smiley face.
Three days ago The Blaze reported:
Amid mounting tensions with North Korea, the Pentagon has delayed an intercontinental ballistic missile test that had been planned for next week at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California …
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided to put off the long-planned Minuteman 3 test … because of concerns the launch could be misinterpreted and exacerbate the Korean crisis.
Ed Driscoll interviewed Monica Crowley, whose book What the (Bleep) Just Happened Again was recently published. You can find the whole interview on video and in transcript here at PJ Media.
Monica Crowley’s opinions of Obama and his policies are very close to our own. So we are posting some extracts from the transcript, letting her speak for us, while we nod in the background – only interjecting a few words.
On transforming America:
I really believe that Obama’s objective from the beginning — and it’s not just him, it has been the objective of the far left for a very long time — … is to change the very nature of America. America, the gift that the Founding Fathers gave to us … a nation that was exceptional because it was based on an idea. And the idea, instead of being based on the ambitions of men … was centered on the concept of limited government and individual freedom.
And those two things are deeply interrelated. You can’t really have tremendous individual freedom when you have a big government. The idea of the last few decades has been to try to transform that fundamental Americanness, that great American idea that has given us tremendous prosperity and tremendous power, [and made] America into a great nation [and] a good nation. … The far left has been on this mission to strip away both … the limited government part and the individual liberty part.
And for many years they had success in putting up these big, huge entitlement pillars, dependency pillars, pillars that would change the way the government related to the individual; big redistributionist pillars like Social Security and like Medicare, like Medicaid. But they were never able to sort of put the whole thing together and do a dramatic socialist overhaul of the country until they found their perfect marriage of man and mission in Barack Obama.
And so from the beginning, and from day one of his first term, Obama and the far left set out to change the very nature of America, to change our character. And by that I mean strip away the self-reliance that underpins limited government and individual freedom. Strip that away and replace it with massive dependency; dependency on government.
So over the last four years, what they have done, and they have largely succeeded, is change the balance between the government sector and the private sector, change the relationship between the government and the individual, and created and expanded this massive dependency society. …
Obama and the far left have had enormous success in changing the character of this country. …
On the state of the GOP today:
I think over the next four years, certainly, we are going to see — we’re going to see federalism come to the fore. We’re going to see that Tenth Amendment rise.
And the reason is … Republicans now control thirty out of fifty governorships. We control the vast majority of state houses across the country. And it’s been a very interesting phenomenon to watch, because those offices are closer to the people than the presidency and then Washington, Congress, the Senate, and so on.
So when people have a choice, when they think that their vote will actually matter to their direct lives, meaning governor, state houses, they’re going more conservative. They’re going toward conservative governors, not even just Republican governors, but conservative governors, in most states. …
And so what I think you’re going to see is a real tension — and we already see this tension now, but I think it’s going to increase — between Washington, the federal government, and the states. And we’re going to see the states, as they’re starting to do now, on gun control, on immigration, … on a whole range of issues, you’re going to see the states pushing back and asserting their rights on behalf of the people that put them into office.
Taking on the federal government is a really tough thing, especially now, because it’s so big and it’s so powerful under Obama. But I think you’re going to see an increase in states going forward with their own agendas and pushing back on Washington. …
On foreign policy:
I actually believe [Obama] wants Iran to get a nuclear weapon. He has done nothing to stop Iran. Those sanctions that his administration put into place are toothless. The Iranians have found every way to get around them.
He has done nothing but stall. And the Iranians have used that time to go ahead and a) slaughter their own people in the streets when they revolted in 2009; and b) try to acquire a nuclear weapon. And they are getting there with every passing hour … This president has done nothing to stop them, on purpose.
I would also say on the Arab Spring, this is a man who wants to see the rise of the Islamists. He wants to see the rise of the Islamists across the board, and that is why he threw over a long time ally of the United States, Husni Mubarak in Egypt. That is why he paved the way for Muammar Gaddafi, who yes, was a longstanding terrorist, but over recent years Gaddafi was trying to reach out to the United States and providing us with crucial intelligence on the movements of Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood across Northern Africa. And now we see what a problem that is. This president then went to facilitate his overthrow as well.
Why hasn’t he moved in Syria, where you have, what, upwards of maybe 40,000 people slaughtered under the Assad regime? Well, it’s because he’s been waiting for the Muslim Brotherhood to be poised and ready to take control there as well.
This is a man who knows exactly what he is doing. It is incredibly dangerous. It is completely antithetical to American interests. And now here we are. And we see it with China. He hasn’t taken on China. China continues to be a currency manipulator, getting very aggressive along the Pacific Rim, with very close allies of ours, like Japan and South Korea. Obama hasn’t lifted a finger. North Koreans just tested another nuclear weapon. No consequences from the United States. …
Yes. Obama wants victory for Islam in the world as much as he wants victory for socialism in America. A big step towards Islamic victory would be the defeat, and so the destruction, of Israel. He has to seem to be somewhat supportive of Israel, somewhat even-handed in the – totally defunct – “peace process” ostensibly still taking place between Israel and the Palestinians. But meanwhile he lets Iran build a nuclear arsenal because the quick and reliable way to destroy Israel would be by nuclear attack.
This president came into office with a far left ideology of wanting to take down America a notch or two or ten abroad, because we are not worthy. America’s full of sin from the past, and we have had our way around the world, and now it’s time we pay the price.
So I would argue, and I argue in this book, that his whole philosophy is all being carried out and it’s all deliberate and it’s all on purpose. There is no incompetence. There’s no naivete. It’s being carried out exactly as he’d like to see it. …
On the collusion of the media:
The philosophy of the Obama administration is we will do what we want, Constitution be damned. And we know that nobody’s really going to cover the bad stuff, because they’re all out to protect us. They’re with us ideologically. They’re never going to allow the first black president to get into any real trouble. They will protect us. So therefore, we will get away with everything.
And they have. And like I said, with a few exceptions of certain news outlets that have covered Fast and Furious, it really hasn’t gotten covered. And they believe that when the bad stuff happens, whether it’s Fast and Furious or Benghazi or any of the range of unconstitutional maneuvers this president has done, that they can just wait it out, because it doesn’t get covered. So they wait it out, they stonewall, they don’t give any explanations. They continue to smile, and the story blows over. …
These scandals [the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, and the scandal of the Benghazi murders] under Barack Obama actually have an American body count. Watergate, nobody died. So you tell me which one is the more serious. They have covered up these scandals. They go as high as Eric Holder, possibly the President of the United States, and still, no sense of curiosity from the mainstream media. It’s astonishing. And they ought to be ashamed. …
On how badly Obama is wrecking America:
Assuming he does leave in 2017… I think the extent of the damage we don’t even know yet. I think we have a sense of the extent of the damage, but we really have no idea [of]the destruction that he has wrought and is wreaking on this country.
This is a man who spoke in 2008 about his dream of the fundamental transformation of the nation — his words, not mine — the fundamental transformation. He also talked about remaking America — again, his words, not mine.
And he would invoke the phrase “a more perfect union.” And you know, part of his genius [or Alinskyite training - ed] four years ago was, in allowing those statements to kind of float out there on their own, and allowing the American people to hear those statements and assign to them their own meaning, what they thought he meant by those phrases.
What I argue in the book is, don’t pay attention to what you think he meant. Pay attention to what he meant by it. Now we have four years of evidence as to what he meant by the fundamental transformation of the nation. And that is he intends to change us and is changing us, very quickly, into a European-style socialist state.
The result of that is, as we see in Western Europe, after decades of socialism, we see stubbornly and permanently high unemployment. We see sovereign debt crises that are imploding nations, if not the entire continent of Europe. We see immigration policies out of control, where these nations have lost their very identities, because they have been overrun by all kinds of different ethnicities, including radical Muslims that have taken over a lot of these countries, or at least exerting a lot of influence there.
So you see the results that are absolutely devastating in Western Europe. No economic growth. We see that now here. We have seen it. All of those results of decades of socialism building up in Western Europe, that is imploding all of those once-great nations. We see it happening here on a much more accelerated scale, because this economy is so much bigger, this country is so much bigger than any country in Western Europe.
So it’s happening a lot faster here. And when he leaves office, I do think that this country — the tentacles of redistributionism that he has wrapped around every major pillar of this economy, from the industrial base, to the financial sector, to the energy sector to the healthcare sector, those tentacles will be wrapped so tightly after eight years, that it will be almost impossible to unwind without great, enormous economic pain and dislocation. I think that’s where we’re heading. …
The laws of economics will kick in, and everything will come to a screeching halt.
Inflation, interest rates going up, higher taxes, no jobs. You’re seeing it happening across Western Europe. The debt crisis will kick in and it will be brutal, and it will affect every single person.
You can’t spend the last four or five years — actually longer than that, with the easy money policy from the Fed — you can’t spend all this time pumping trillions of dollars down into the system and not expect inflation to kick in big time. That is actually — massive inflation is actually a tax that affects the middle and lower classes more than anybody else. That is coming. …
We have had brave Republicans like Paul Ryan put out budget after budget and plan after plan saying, guys, this is foreseen. We can see this coming. And here’s how we fix it before the crisis hits. But people don’t want to hear it. People vote them out. People — people take the courageous folks and throw them out on their ears. And they don’t listen until they have to. And by that point, the pain so intense that it is going to be an absolute nightmare.
Can it be repaired? Yeah. But I fear, I really worry, that we’re going to have to hit rock bottom before we even get to that point. I hope that’s not the case. But I fear that it may be.
America is under threat from that cruel and pompous gang, led by Kim Jong-un, who rule over the long-suffering North Koreans. And it seems they have the power to obliterate our civilization.
According to this report in the Washington Times, they have developed a Super-EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) with which to strike the United States:
North Korea is a mortal nuclear threat to the United States— right now.
North Korea has already successfully tested and developed nuclear weapons. It has also already miniaturized nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery and has armed missiles with nuclear warheads. In 2011, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. General Ronald Burgess, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea has weaponized its nuclear devices into warheads for ballistic missiles.
North Korea has labored for years and starved its people so it could develop an intercontinental missile capable of reaching the United States. Why? Because they have a special kind of nuclear weapon that could destroy the United States with a single blow. …
Not just incapacitate – which would be extremely bad – but worse: destroy.
Any nuclear weapon detonated above an altitude of 30 kilometers will generate an electromagnetic pulse that will destroy electronics and could collapse the electric power grid and other critical infrastructures — communications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water — that sustain modern civilization and the lives of 300 million Americans. All could be destroyed by a single nuclear weapon making an EMP attack.
A Super-EMP attack on the United States would cause much more and much deeper damage than a primitive nuclear weapon, and so would increase confidence that the catastrophic consequences will be irreversible. Such an attack would inflict maximum damage and be optimum for realizing a world without America.
Both North Korean nuclear tests look suspiciously like a Super-EMP weapon. A Super-EMP warhead would have a low yield, like the North Korean device, because it is not designed to create a big explosion, but to convert its energy into gamma rays, that generate the EMP effect. Reportedly South Korean military intelligence concluded, independent of the EMP Commission, that Russian scientists are in North Korea helping develop a Super-EMP warhead. In 2012, a military commentator for the People’s Republic of China stated that North Korea has Super-EMP nuclear warheads.
A Super-EMP warhead would not weigh much, and could probably be delivered by North Korea’s ICBM. The missile does not have to be accurate, as the EMP field is so large that detonating anywhere over the United States would have catastrophic consequences. The warhead does not even need a re-entry vehicle, as an EMP attack entails detonating the warhead at high-altitude, above the atmosphere.
So, as of Dec. 12, North Korea’s successful orbit of a satellite demonstrates its ability to make an EMP attack against the United States — right now.
The Congressional EMP Commission estimates that, given the nation’s current unpreparedness, within one year of an EMP attack, two-thirds of the U.S. population — 200 million Americans — would probably perish from starvation, disease and societal collapse.
Thus, North Korea now has an Assured Destruction capability against the United States.
The consequences of this development are so extremely grave that U.S. and global security have, in effect, gone over the “strategic cliff” into free-fall. Where we will land, into what kind of future, is as yet unknown.
Nevertheless, some very bad developments are foreseeable. Iran will certainly be inspired by North Korea’s example to persist in the development of its own nuclear weapon and ICBM programs to pose a mortal threat to the United States. Indeed, North Korea and Iran have been collaborating all along. …
We are fast moving to a place where, for the first time in history, failed little states like North Korea and Iran, that cannot even feed their own people, will have power in their hands to blackmail or destroy the largest and most successful societies on Earth. North Korea and Iran perceive themselves to be at war with the United States, and are desperate, highly unpredictable characters. …
What is to be done?
The president should immediately issue an Executive Order, drafted for the White House earlier by the Congressional EMP Commission, to protect the national electric grid and other critical infrastructures from an EMP attack. The Congress should pass the SHIELD Act (HR 668) now to provide the legal authorities and financial mechanisms for protecting the electric grid from EMP. The Congress should enhance Defense Department programs for National Missile Defense and Department of Homeland Security programs for protecting critical infrastructures.
Better still: how about us doing it to them first? Like now.
It seems that the (misnamed) “War on Terror” is over – not because Islam has been defeated, or Muslims have stopped waging jihad but because the US will no longer resist it.
America’s anti-America president would rather the US military does not fight. Maybe he’d allow it to do a little social work abroad now and then. But the US should have nothing as nasty as a formidable military capability.
This is from the Washington Post:
For most of the past year, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has stressed that the vast military complex over which he presides is at a “strategic turning point.”
A decade of grinding guerrilla war is drawing to a close. Defense budgets are shrinking. The implication is that major changes are coming to the military. …
And what is this civilian with no experience whatsoever of military service doing about it?
The watchword for Panetta’s tenure, senior defense officials said, has been “humble.”
“He’s told the service chiefs to be humble in their predictions of warfare,” one senior official said.
Be humble in their predictions? What does that mean? Humbly predict? Or predict US humbleness?
In an interview describing his defense strategy, Panetta said he has helped craft an approach that hedges bets against a range of potential enemies. “It really does provide maximum flexibility,” he said.
You bet they won’t attack you, and as you’re not committed to any kind of response (“flexibility”) you won’t have to do anything in particular about it if they do?
“The military is going to be smaller … “
“… but it is going to be more agile, more flexible …”
No fixed orders, no fixed plan, no fixed aim?
… and more deployable so that it moves fast and stays on the cutting edge of technology.”
Drones then, mainly?
Panetta’s vision is notable for some of the big questions left unanswered. A highly touted promise to shift the military’s focus to Asia has produced little in the way of major new deployments. Nine months after it was unveiled, there is scant evidence of how it will be implemented.
“This is a time when you would expect an intense focus on where we want to go and what we want to be,” said Andrew Hoehn, a senior vice president at the Rand Corp. and a former Pentagon strategist. Hoehn said such a debate does not appear to be happening inside the Pentagon or in the presidential campaigns, which have largely ignored national security issues.
Although the war in Iraq has ended and troops are being withdrawn from Afghanistan, Panetta has not pressed the ground forces to conduct a tough and detailed examination of their performance in the two long and costly wars, said Eliot Cohen, a military historian at Johns Hopkins University and an adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign.
In recent years, Army and Marine Corps officers have tended to blame their struggles on the State Department and other federal agencies, which were unable to provide the necessary help to rebuild the war-torn countries’ governments and economies.
Were unable to rebuild the enemies’ economies? Well then, the news isn’t all bad. Though the US did waste a vast amount of energy and money trying to do just that.
Cohen said the finger-pointing has prevented the ground services from acknowledging their own shortcomings, such as their inability to produce a core of experts in the culture, politics, history and languages of the two countries where they have spent most of the past decade fighting.
But since when have countries needed to be familiar with the culture, politics, history and languages of their enemies? The only mission has always been to defeat them.
Panetta said he would like to see the military do more in this area. “I think we have to look at the lessons that we draw, particularly from these last 10 years of war,” he said. “I’m not satisfied. I think more needs to be done.”
Good grief! Far too much social work has been done by the US military in Afghanistan. (See our posts Heroic inaction May 19, 2010; No victory or something like that June 15, 2010; No reason at all April 19, 2011.)
The Obama administration’s defense strategy, meanwhile …
So they do have one?
… plays down the likelihood of the military fighting major counterinsurgency wars in the coming years.
Not a likelihood of their having to fight such wars, but just not fighting them in any circumstances.
To that end, Panetta has ordered the Army to shrink to about 490,000 soldiers by 2017, a reduction of about 80,000 that will leave the force slightly larger than it was before Sept. 11, 2001.
A surprise pick to run the CIA in 2009, Panetta had spent most of his career as a congressman from California and … in the Clinton administration, including a stint as White House chief of staff.
Even after two and a half years at the CIA and 14 months at the Pentagon, Panetta’s speeches tend to steer clear of the kinds of detailed policy prescriptions and tough questions that were routine under Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, his immediate predecessor.
“Do we really need 11 [aircraft] carrier strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one?” Gates asked a Navy audience in 2010. He also challenged the Marines to consider whether, in an era of increasingly precise cruise missiles, they would be called upon again to storm an enemy’s shore — a question that cuts to the core of the Marines’ identity.
Gates’s goal was to encourage lower-ranking officers to challenge military pieties. By contrast, Panetta sometimes sounds more like a congressman representing the “Pentagon district” than the leader of the world’s largest military. …
Contradictorally, he is against the devastating reduction in the defense budget that the Obama administration proposes.
“It’s mindless, and it will . . . do incredible damage to our national defense,” Panetta said last month in a speech in New York.
But then, he is not a man who worries overmuch about depleting public funds:
As he did during his days as a congressman, Panetta spends most weekends in California, commuting home on a military jet at a cost of more than $800,000 as of this spring, the latest figures available. …
Although the Washington Post states that “the current list of crises stretches from growing unrest in Syria and Iran’s nuclear ambitions to a new leader in North Korea and rising tensions between China and its neighbors around the South China Sea”, it blandly reports that Michele Flournoy, “the Pentagon’s top policy official”, declared that -
“For the first time in a decade, the urgent priority mission is not staring us in the face.”
Got that? No urgent priority mission staring the US in the face.
Though Iran is rapidly becoming a nuclear power.