Is America in decline? 2

Is the world entering a post-American era? Will the 21st century be dominated by some other power, or several others?

In the splendid speech that John Bolton delivered at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2010, he said of Obama, “He is the first post-American president.”

In Obama’s eyes, American superpower status is already over. The decline is happening. There’s no reason to regret it, and it would be pointless and unnecessary to try to halt or reverse it. Obama is content to let America be a nation among the nations, no different in any important respect, and certainly no better. “He sees American decline as a kind of natural phenomenon,” Bolton said.

In Bolton’s own view, however, America is still exceptional and still the one and only superpower. If its status as such is under threat, that threat proceeds from Obama himself, who, almost casually – not caring very much, as John Bolton remarked, about foreign and national security policy – is himself weakening it.

What Obama does care about is domestic policy. To achieve his redistributionist goals he has put America into crushing debt; and being determined, it seems, to turn America into a European-style socialist state, he can only make the debt vaster and heavier. That alone weakens America.

China is America’s chief creditor, but that does not mean China is now a second superpower. A China growing in wealth and confidence, and becoming an increasingly significant world actor, may pose an economic threat to America but is not, or not yet, a rival world power. Militarily it is far from a match. Militarily, America is still far and away the most powerful nation.

But there again, if Obama has his way, it won’t be for much longer. He has, in Bolton’s words, an “incredibly naïve idea” that if the US would get rid of its own nuclear weapons, other countries would give up theirs; those that do not have them but want them – such as Iran and North Korea – would abandon their intense efforts to obtain them; and the world would live at peace forever after. This belief or ambition represents, as John Bolton put it, “a pretty deep-seated strain in the left wing of the Democratic Party.” Obama will soon negotiate an arms control agreement with Russia by which he will undertake substantially to reduce America’s nuclear capability. America will not develop new nuclear weapons, or arms in outer space, or even keep its existing arsenal battle-ready by testing for safety and reliability. It is as if America had no enemies; as if America were not under attack; as if 9/11 had never happened; and as if Iran and North Korea would not drop nuclear bombs on America and its allies if they could do it and get away with it.

Furthermore, with the rest of the dreaming Left both at home and internationally, he aspires to another vision of a new earth: one that is not only sweetly irenic but held forcibly in union by a supreme governing authority. Those proposals for world taxes that we hear of; the intricate business of trading in carbon indulgences in the name of saving the earth from being consumed by fire or ice; international treaty regulations that would result in banning the private ownership of guns – all these are measures to realize the tremendous objective of “world governance”. It would mean the end of American independence, the end of national sovereignty. It would mean that the Revolution was lost, as Bolton said.

In a sense it would be the end of America, because America is an idea of liberty. And it is an idea that the world needs. Its loss would be a colossal disaster, a tragedy for the whole human race.

Can America be saved?

In his book titled The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria asserts that “America is closing down”, but allows that it “won’t be demoted from its superpower position in the foreseeable future” because “it’s not that the United States has been doing badly over the last two decades. It’s that, all of a sudden, everyone else is playing the game.”

America can “remain a vital, vibrant economy, at the forefront of the next revolutions in science, technology and industry, as long as it can embrace and adjust to the challenges confronting it”.

“The challenges” come from other nations, now rising, which he groups together as “the rest”.

China is the first of them because it is becoming an economic giant. The 21st century, he considers, may be the Chinese century.

What if [China ] quietly positions itself as the alternative to a hectoring and arrogant America? How will America cope with such a scenario – a kind of Cold War, but this time with a vibrant market economy, a nation that is not showing a hopeless model of state socialism, or squandering its power in pointless military interventions? This is a new challenge for the United States, one it has not tackled before, and for which it is largely unprepared.

Next in line is India. Poorer but democratic, India is “the ally”. Then come Brazil and Chile (plausibly); South Africa (less plausibly); and (implausibly) Russia. (Russia is a demographic basket case.)

Ironically, Zakaria says, these nations are rising because they learnt from America:

For sixty years, American politicians and diplomats have traveled around the world pushing countries to open their markets, free up their politics, and embrace trade and technology. … We counseled them to be unafraid of change and learn the secrets of our success. And it worked: the natives have gotten good at capitalism.

America, then, has not been a malign power, or not always. In Roosevelt’s day other countries believed that “America’s mammoth power was not to be feared”. It was after it had won the Cold War, when it became the only superpower, that it began to go to the bad. “Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has walked the world like a colossus, unrivaled and unchecked”, and this “has made Washington arrogant, careless, and lazy.” Furthermore, he tell us, “people round the world worry about living in a world in which one country has so much power.”

To relieve that worry, America “must reduce its weaponry and work towards a non-nuclear world.” It is hypocritical for the US to insist that other countries should not have nuclear weapons while it is hoarding a nuclear arsenal of its own. By giving them up it would “gain credibility”, an end he apparently considers so desirable that it would be worth risking the nation’s very survival to achieve it.

The summer of 2002, Zakaria says, was “the high water-mark of unipolarity”. The world felt sympathy for America after 9/11. America went to war in Afghanistan, which was not good but not too bad. But then it invaded Iraq, which was very bad, and the world’s sympathy dried up. America was being too “unilateral”, too “imperial and imperious”.

George W Bush and “the nefarious neoconservative conspiracy” antagonized the world. He and his conspirators “disdained treaties, multilateral organizations, international public opinion, and anything that suggested a conciliatory approach to world politics.”

So the world’s dislike, contempt, and fear of America were justified, or at least understandable, in the light of the foreign policies of the “arrogant” Bush administration. Zakaria even claims that the animosity filled the Republicans – already full of “chest-thumping machismo” – with pride.

He asks:

Can Washington adjust and adapt to a world in which others have moved up? Can it respond to shift in economic and political power? … Can Washington truly embrace a world with a diversity of voices and viewpoints? Can it thrive in a world it cannot dominate?

The advice he gives to “Washington” for success in adjusting, adapting, responding, embracing, and thriving is to be conciliatory, apologetic. It must listen more; proclaim universal values”, but “phrase its positions carefully”; be like the chair of a board gently guiding a group of independent directors. America must “learn from the rest”. The president must meet more non-government people, have smaller entourages, rely more on diplomacy. Consultation, cooperation, compromise are the key words. He objects to such accomodations being called appeasement. Consult and cooperate, he urges, with Russia, and with “multilateral institutions” such as the UN, NATO, AFRICOM, OAS, and the International Criminal Court. (Even internally, the US legal system “should take note of transnational standards”.)

The federal government has been “too narrow-minded” about terrorism. When bin Laden got America to “come racing out to fight” him (in response to 9/11) this was “over-reaction.”  Zakaria’s advice: “take it on the chin” and “bounce back”. The government must stop thinking of terrorism as a national security issue, and think of it as criminal activity carried out by “small groups of misfits”. Although Democrats were on the whole “more sensible” about terrorism, both parties, he says, spoke “in language entirely designed for a domestic audience with no concern for the poisonous effect it has everywhere else.” His solution is better airport control round the world. The more urgent problem in his view is that American Muslims have become victims of over-reaction to terrorist attacks. Instead of being “questioned, harassed, and detained” they should, he urges, “be enlisted in the effort to understand the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism.”

Zakaria does not consider himself anti-American. He does not even see himself as a man of the left. He reiterates that he is a free marketeer. It is because America became “suspicious of free markets”, he says, that partly explains its “closing down”.

He wrote his book before the economic crisis. He saw a globalized economy bringing about an increasingly prosperous world in which the poorest nations were rising strongly enough for him to declare that “the world is swimming in capital”, and “there really isn’t a Third World any more “. But even then the dollar was sliding, and America was showing signs of being “enfeebled”.

At a military-political level America still dominates the world, but the larger structure of unipolarity – economic, financial, cultural – is weakening… every year it becomes weaker and other nations and actors grow in strength.

For all its military might, its chest-thumping phase is over and now it is “cowering in fear”. It must, he says, “recover its confidence.” ‘It must stop being “a nation consumed by anxiety”, with a tendency to “hunker down”, unreasonably “worried about unreal threats” such as terrorism, and rogue nations like North Korea and Iran. (Iran, he explains, has good reason to fear the United States, with its armies on two of its borders. It’s only to be expected that Iran would try to arm itself with nuclear bombs and missile delivery systems. He does not explain why America should not fear this as a real threat.)

He is certain about what America needs to do to propitiate and serve the world it has alienated. It should ‘‘build broad rules by which the world will be bound’’, rather than pursue “narrow interests”.

What the world really wants from America is … that it affirm its own ideals. That role, as the country that will define universal ideals, remains one that only America can play.

We know Obama has read Zakaria’s book, or at least looked into it, because there is a photograph of him holding it, one finger marking his place. Obama is doing much that Zakaria advises in foreign affairs. But that’s less likely to be because the writer has impressed the president with his arguments than because they have both drunk from the same ideological well.

Obama’s foreign policy lets us see if Zakaria’s theory works. So far it has not.

So is America’s decline beyond all remedy?

It’s a relief to turn from Zakaria’s dull and weakly reasoned book with its uncongenial credo to an article titled The Seductions of Decline (February 2, 2010) by brilliantly witty and insightful Mark Steyn. If America believes it is in decline, he says, it will be. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The view that America has been too arrogant a power; that it is not and should not be exceptional; that humility and apology are required of it; that only endlessly patient negotiation in a spirit of compromise will improve foreign relations and dissuade states like North Korea and Iran from acquiring nuclear arms; that Islamic terrorism should be treated as crime and not as the jihad its perpetrators declare it to be; that Russia should be consulted on, say, the deployment of American missile defense; and that the US should reduce its nuclear arsenal and work towards a non-nuclear world – will bring about the decline.

National decline is psychological – and therefore what matters is accepting the psychology of decline.

His answer to the question “is America set for decline?” is yes, because of the policies of Obama and the Democrats, which arise from their acceptance of decline.

Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: Unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the American economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet.

American decline, he says, “will be steeper, faster and more devastating than Britain’s – and something far closer to Rome’s.” It will not be like France’s, or Austria’s.

Why did decline prove so pleasant in Europe? Because it was cushioned by American power. The United States is such a perversely non-imperial power that it garrisons not ramshackle colonies but its wealthiest “allies”, from Germany to Japan. For most of its members, “the free world” has been a free ride.

And after “Washington’s retreat from la gloire” as hegemon of the world, when America “becomes Europe in its domestic disposition and geopolitical decline, then who will be America?”

Of the many competing schools of declinism, perhaps the most gleeful are those who salivate over the rise of China. For years, Sinophiles have been penning orgasmic fantasies of mid-century when China will bestride the world and America will be consigned to the garbage heap of history. It will never happen: As I’ve been saying for years, China has profound structural problems. It will get old before it gets rich.

Not China then. Russia?

The demographic deformation of Tsar Putin’s new empire is even more severe than Beijing’s. Russia is a global power only to the extent of the mischief it can make on its acceleration into a death spiral.

Not Russia. How about the Caliphate that the terrorist war is being fought to establish?

Even if every dimestore jihadist’s dreams came true, almost by definition an Islamic imperium will be in decline from Day One.

So what might the post-American world look like? Mark Steyn’s answer is deeply depressing:

The most likely future is not a world under a new order but a world with no order – in which pipsqueak states go nuclear while the planet’s wealthiest nations, from New Zealand to Norway, are unable to defend their own borders and are forced to adjust to the post-American era as they can. Yet, in such a geopolitical scene, the United States will still remain the most inviting target – first, because it’s big, and secondly, because, as Britain knows, the durbar moves on but imperial resentments linger long after imperial grandeur.

But nothing is inevitable, and Mark Steyn offers a last hope. Though “decline is the way to bet”, the only thing that will ensure it is “if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy.”

When in 2008 a majority of the American electorate voted for Barack Obama to be president of the United States, it seemed that the deal had been made. But now Obama is failing, the Democratic majority is under threat, and the Tea Party movement is reclaiming the Revolution.

This could be another American century after all.

Jillian Becker   March 1, 2010

Sacred custodians of the earth 0

Successive British governments have squandered huge sums of tax-payers’ money on nebulous schemes purporting to save the earth from climate change.

That the earth could or should be saved from its climate change is a spiritual, religious, and philosophical view’ of a ‘belief system’, to quote from the following report.

America too has ‘invested’ enormous sums in this thing of spit and cobwebs (see our post of that title, February 3, 2010). For the Western world as a whole the expense is astronomical.

Has there ever been a waste as vast as this?

From the Telegraph, by Christopher Booker:

In all the coverage lately given to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its embattled chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri [see our post The most powerful magician the world has ever known, December 21, 2009], one rather important part of the story has largely been missed. This is the way in which, in its obsession with climate change, different branches of the UK Government have in recent years been pouring hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into a bewildering array of “climate-related” projects, often throwing a veil of mystery over how much is being paid, to whom and why…

To begin with a small example. Everyone has now heard of “Glaciergate”, the inclusion in the IPCC’s 2007 report of a wild claim it was recently forced to disown, that by 2035 all Himalayan glaciers will have melted. In 2001 the Department for International Development (DfID) spent £315,277 commissioning a team of British scientists to investigate this prediction. After co-opting its Indian originator, Dr Syed Hasnain, they reported in 2004 that his claim was just a scare story

Three years later, however, when the IPCC produced its 2007 report, it endorsed Dr Hasnain’s claim without any mention of the careful UK-funded study which had shown it to be false. What made this particularly shocking was that in 2008 another British ministry, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced that it had paid £1,436,000 to fund all the support needed to run the same IPCC working group which, as we now know from a senior IPCC author, had included the bogus claim in its report. …

In 2008 that Dr Hasnain was recruited by Dr Pachauri to work in his Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri), where his spurious claim was used to win Teri a share in two lucrative studies of the effects of the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers. …

Why was UK taxpayers’ money being used to fund these projects?

Why in 2005, for instance, did Defra pay Teri for a study designed to help the Indian insurance industry make money out of the risks of global warming? Why was the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) sponsoring a study into how Indian industry could make billions out of “carbon credits“, paid by Western firms under the bizarre UN scheme known as the Clean Development Mechanism?

Typical of this curiously opaque world was a payment by Defra to fund the work of an unnamed “head of unit” on something called the IPCC Synthesis Report, of which Dr Pachauri was co-editor. This money was paid to Cambridge University (department unnamed), to be forwarded to Teri Europe, then sent on to the anonymous recipient in Delhi, whose email address was Teri India… (The IPCC itself meanwhile paid Teri a further £400,000 for its work on the Synthesis Report, although it was only 52 pages.)…

Why  have UK taxpayers shelled out £239,538 to unnamed recipients for a study of “Climate change impacts on Chinese agriculture”? Or £230,895 for a “research programme on climate change impacts in India”? Or £57,500 on the “Brazilian proposal support group”?

The largest single payment on Defra’s list, and almost the only recipient identified, was £13,315,168 given to the Hadley Centre itself for its [fraudulent, as the Climategate emails have shown] Climate Predictions Programme. This is just a tiny part of the money UK taxpayers have been contributing for years to assist the work of the IPCC: the Hadley Centre alone has been handed £179 million. …

Why should DfID have paid £30 million to assist “climate change adaptation in Africa“; or £2.5 million for the same in China?

Why in 2002 should UK taxpayers have given £200,000 to pay for delegates from developing nations to attend a “Rio Earth Summit” conference in Johannesburg, and another £120,000 for green activists to attend the same shindig – let alone £10,000 for a “WORKSHOP ON WOMEN AS SACRED CUSTODIANS OF THE EARTH”, to “explore the spiritual, religious and philosophical views concerning women and ecology and the policy implications of these belief systems”?

Only rarely do the government departments funding all these shadowy activities shout pubicly about how they are spending our money – as when last September DfID’s Douglas Alexander was happy to get publicity for flying to Delhi to give Dr Pachauri £10 million to pay for his institute to examine how India’s poverty could be reduced by “sustainable development”.

Similarly, in 2008, our then energy minister Malcolm Wicks flew to Japan to boast that the UK was “the world’s largest donor” to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, pledging another £2.5 million of taxpayers’ money, on top of £9 million Britain had already paid into this scheme since its launch in 2003. More than one ministry is responsible for funding this programme, as when DfID pays for a “research agenda on climate change and development”, while the FCO sponsors yet another study into “clean development mechanisms”.

Contemplating the impenetrable maze of payments made by various ministries to the UN, the EU, banks, research institutes, teams of academics, NGOs, environmental and industrial lobby groups and “charitable foundations” – often through chains of “funding vehicles” which may give only the most nebulous idea of their purpose – we can get little idea what is the total amount of taxpayers’ money flooding out from all our different branches of officialdom. The ministries involved have not seemed exactly keen to help sort out all these mysteries and confusions. What does seem clear is that our Government doesn’t really want us to know all the sums involved, who many of the recipients are or why most of these payments are being made in the first place.

Less free, therefore less prosperous 0

We agree wholly with the opinion we quote here, though the author does not seem to believe as we do that Obama does not want America to be free. He is a collectivist, a redistributionist, a socialist. To reduce individual freedom, to replace the free market with centralized control of the economy, to expand government is what he is about.

From the Washington Times:

Consider our recent economic policy. In late 2008, the specter of a financial meltdown triggered dangerous decisions under President Bush. He approved an unprecedented intervention in the financial sector – the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program – which actually fed the crisis. Instead of changing course, President Obama not only doubled down on those decisions, but went even further, in the belief that only bigger government can “lift us from a recession this deep and severe.” …

In December, the U.S. economy lost an additional 85,000 jobs. Despite all the bailouts and stimulus spending, the economy shed 3.4 million net jobs in 2009. But while employment has shrunk, the federal deficit has ballooned. One year after Mr. Obama took office, the deficit has grown to $1.4 trillion. His 10-year budget will add $13 trillion to the national debt by 2019. …

The bad news is that the United States is falling behind. The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, released Wednesday, finds that the U.S. experienced the most precipitous drop in economic freedom among the world’s top 20 economies (as measured by the gross domestic product). The decline was steep enough to tumble the U.S. from the ranks of truly “free” economies. We are now numbered among the ranks of the “mostly free” – the same as Botswana, Belgium and Sweden. Canada now stands as the sole beacon of economic freedom in North America, getting a higher score on the economic-freedom Index than the United States.

On the index’s 100-point scale of economic freedom, the U.S. fell 2.7 points. Canada’s score dropped, too, but only one-tenth of a point. Meanwhile, countries such as Germany, France, Poland, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Indonesia managed to maintain or even improve their scores, despite the economic crisis.

Why? In large measure, it’s because of the way Washington has exacerbated the financial and economic crisis since 2008. By June of last year, when we cut off data collection in order to begin our analysis, Washington’s interventionist policies had already caused a decline in seven of the 10 categories of economic freedom we measure. Particularly significant were declines in financial freedom, monetary freedom and property rights.

Conditions attached to large government bailouts of financial and automotive firms significantly undermined investors’ property rights. Additionally, politically influenced regulatory changes – such as the imposition of executive salary caps – have had perverse effects, discouraging entrepreneurship and job creation and slowing recovery. On top of this, we had massive stimulus spending that is leading to unprecedented deficits….

We are heading the wrong way. The index, co-published annually by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, has become a “leading indicator” of economic vitality, but other surveys also show that when economic freedom drops, falling opportunity and declining prosperity follow. Unless Washington takes steps to reverse the poor decisions it has made, Americans can expect a long and difficult time ahead.

The good news is that we’ve been here before, and we’ve turned things around before. There’s no reason we can’t do that again. Poll after poll demonstrates that the American people understand this, even if their politicians don’t. They clearly want Washington to gather up the political will to do things such as lowering taxes and reducing regulation and massive spending that feeds the federal debt. We need to unleash the power of the market to create jobs and to reclaim our competitive edge in the global economy. …

The less government intervenes in our lives and our economy, the freer and more prosperous we can become. The choices Mr. Obama takes in the future will determine whether America remains a land of opportunity and can reclaim its international reputation as “the land of the free.”

View the Index of Economic Freedom list here.

A vision of pure meaninglessness 7

The Canadian journalist Diane Francis has written an article in the Financial Post, expressing the opinion that the whole world should adopt China’s one-child-only policy in order to reduce the world’s population.

The environmentalists hold to the view, as little fact-based as all their views tend to be, that over-population is a threat, when in fact most countries, notably all of Europe and Japan, have precisely the opposite problem: birth-rates so low that the Italians, the Irish, the Spanish, the Portuguese (all predominantly Catholic countries, note) as well as the British, the Scandinavians, the Russians, the Japanese are literally dying out.

The environmentalist view is that human beings are messy creatures, doing more harm than good to the planet. The Green vision is of a clean, nay a pure planet. In truth, their ideal could only be realized by the total elimination of the filthy human species.

Here’s what Diane Francis has to say:

The “inconvenient truth” overhanging the UN’s Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are overpopulating the world.

A planetary law, such as China’s one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.

The world’s other species, vegetation, resources, oceans, arable land, water supplies and atmosphere are being destroyed and pushed out of existence as a result of humanity’s soaring reproduction rate. [This is the sheerest nonsense – JB]

Ironically, China, despite its dirty coal plants, is the world’s leader in terms of fashioning policy to combat environmental degradation, thanks to its one-child-only edict.

The intelligence behind this is the following:

-If only one child per female was born as of now, the world’s population would drop from its current 6.5 billion to 5.5 billion by 2050, according to a study done for scientific academy Vienna Institute of Demography.

-By 2075, there would be 3.43 billion humans on the planet. This would have immediate positive effects on the world’s forests, other species, the oceans, atmospheric quality and living standards.

-Doing nothing, by contrast, will result in an unsustainable population of nine billion by 2050.

Humans are the only rational animals but have yet to prove it. Medical and other scientific advances have benefited by delivering lower infant mortality rates as well as longevity. Both are welcome, but humankind has not yet recalibrated its behavior to account for the fact that especially if billions get indoor plumbing and cars.

The fix is simple. It’s dramatic. And yet the world’s leaders don’t even have this on their agenda in Copenhagen. Instead there will be photo ops, posturing, optics, blah-blah-blah about climate science and climate fraud, announcements of giant wind farms, then cap-and-trade subsidies.

None will work unless a China one-child policy is imposed. Unfortunately, there are powerful opponents. Leaders of the world’s big fundamentalist religions preach in favor of procreation and fiercely oppose birth control. And most political leaders in emerging economies perpetuate a disastrous Catch-22: Many children (i. e. sons) stave off hardship in the absence of a social safety net or economic development, which, in turn, prevents protections or development.

China has proven that birth restriction is smart policy. Its middle class grows, all its citizens have housing, health care, education and food [this has long been a popular myth on the Left – JB], and the one out of five human beings who live there are not overpopulating the planet. [What sense can be made of this statement? – JB]

For those who balk at the notion that governments should control family sizes, just wait until the growing human population turns twice as much pastureland into desert as is now the case, or when the Amazon is gone, the elephants disappear for good and wars erupt over water, scarce resources and spatial needs.

The point is that Copenhagen’s talking points are beside the point.

The only fix is if all countries drastically reduce their populations, clean up their messes and impose mandatory conservation measures.

Impose, impose, impose. And because ‘over-population’ is a world problem, there must be a World Authority with the power to impose its will on every single one of us. Totalitarianism on a scale that Lenin could only have dreamed of.

This is neo-Malthusianism. Human beings are not as Malthus or this lady imagines them.

Diane Francis’s article is typical of the thinking of the Left. It is sociological. Sociology is a collectivist idea, a way of seeing people merely as units of a species.

The sociological, leftist, Green view is anti-human, chiming harmoniously with the view of the Communist Chinese government that Diane Francis praises. The naturally dictatorial Greens (including Barack Obama’s adviser, Cass Sunstein) are all for forced sterilization and forced abortion to solve a non-existent problem of over-population. They surely have no objection to another Communist Chinese method of keeping the population down: the murder, usually by exposure and neglect, of millions of babies born alive, most of them girls.

It should never be forgotten that every human being is a repository of meaning, the only meaning there is in the known universe. Every human being is a world. No two are the same.

A critical mass of humanity is needed before you get your innovators, your geniuses, and all of us, even the foolish and the mad among us, can make our contributions.

‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being Obama’ 0

As Obama descends from the clouds to touch down on Japan, Singapore, China, and South Korea, he claims to be the ‘first Pacific president of the United States’.

The following is from a piece about this by Tony Fratto, published by The Roosevelt Room under the apt title which we quote.

This is a president absolutely unburdened by what came before. “Being Obama” means to fly high and lightly above the evidence of the past.

“Being Obama”, for the purposes of this White House, is more than sufficient — it is all.

On his inaugural visit to Asia, President Obama announced a “new” orientation toward Asia, leaving an impression that prior White House maps merely employed pictures of sea monsters to depict the strange lands beyond the Hawaiian Islands.

If you were looking for a new initiative, a new program, some new evidence breaking with the past to mark the end of the old era, you would be disappointed. Understand that “Being Obama” is the difference.

“Being Obama” is the self-proclamation of “America’s first Pacific president”.

Never mind the previous presidents who hailed from the Pacific rim state of California. Never mind that a prior president served as an ambassador to China. Never mind that prior presidents served in battle in Asia, negotiated peace in the region, opened China, initiated historic diplomatic, security and economic initiatives with Asian nations and guaranteed the region’s safety.

“Being Obama” is to lightly, and without shame, disregard the irony that the nation he visits today, Singapore, was the first Asian nation to sign (during the era of disengagement!) a free trade agreement with the U.S. …

It would be unbearable to acknowledge that the key initiative cited to highlight a “new” engagement with Asia in the Obama era — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — was actually agreed to and announced by President Obama’s predecessor after years of careful work and engagement.

The President spoke of a “new” engagement with China, one that recognized that nation as important to the U.S. economy, welcoming its economic rise — not a competitor, but as an engine of growth and opportunity in the global economy. An enterprising reporter with access to Google might find these very same words, almost verbatim, used by President Bush and a succession of Bush Administration Treasury and Commerce secretaries.

Never mind that.

Never mind that the hallmark forum for engagement with China in the “new” era of engagement — the Strategic and Economic Dialogue — is a continuation of the Bush Administration’s Strategic Economic Dialogue. (A new era accomplished by the mere addition of a conjunction.)

Never mind that the hallmark multilateral forum for engagement with China on the priority strategic regional security concern — the Six-Party Talks to deal with a nuclear North Korea — is a continuation of a Bush Administration initiative.

Never mind that the hallmark multilateral forum for engagement with China on climate change — the Major Economies Forum — is, once again, a continuation of President Bush’s initiative.

Never mind all that. Shed the heavy burden of the work and sacrifice of history that preceded and fly lightly above it.

“Being Obama” is enough, and it is all.

If 0

President Obama has reduced the number of US warships in the strategically important region of the Persian Gulf. There’s not a single US aircraft carrier in the region. Now Russian warships have arrived there, being serviced at Gulf ports they have never had the use of before; and Iran has sent its navy into the Gulf of Aden. These maneuvers are co-ordinated by Russia and Iran.  

Furthermore, Iran recently launched its long-range missile, and North Korea, which co-operates with Iran on missile development, has demonstrated that it now possesses nuclear warheads. North Korea is in the business of selling its nuclear technology. Not only Iran, but Syria, Hizbollah in Lebanon, and probably Venezuela are among its eager customers.

North Korea is threatening war on South Korea. The danger extends to Japan, and to all countries within the range of Iran’s and North Korea’s missiles, including Europe and the US.

But the US administration does nothing about it.

 From the Oneida Dispatch:

With tensions high on the Korean peninsula, Chinese fishing boats left the region, possibly to avoid any maritime skirmishes between the two Koreas. But U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the situation was not a crisis and no additional U.S. troops would be sent to the region…

South Korean and U.S. troops facing North Korea raised their surveillance on Thursday to its highest level since 2006, when North Korea tested its first nuclear device. About 28,000 American troops are stationed across the South…

In Washington, the Army’s top officer, Gen. George Casey, expressed confidence that the U.S. could fight a conventional war against North Korea if necessary, despite continuing conflicts elsewhere.

But [Defense Secretary] Gates, en route to Singapore for regional defense talks, tried to lower the temperature.

“I don’t think that anybody in the (Obama) administration thinks there is a crisis,” Gates told reporters aboard his military jet early Friday…

The two Koreas technically remain at war because they signed a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953…

 So despite what the pathetic Gates ‘thinks’ the US administration ‘thinks’, there is a crisis in the East, threatening the West and Western interests.

The US needs to act, but its Commander-in-Chief has no intention of doing anything effective, either because he doesn’t understand what’s going on, or because he sees no evil in it.

It is tempting to speculate imaginatively: If the US had a Churchill or Truman in command, what would he do now? Churchill bombed Dresden flat to hasten the end of the Second World War. Truman dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to achieve the same end. In the present crisis might not either of them decide that Pyongyang needs to be destroyed? Would they not launch ICBMs with nuclear warheads to do the job quickly and thoroughly? Not only would an evil nuisance be eliminated from the world, but the psychological shock-wave would most likely stop Iran in its tracks; dumbfound Hizbollah, Hamas, and the Saudis; freeze the global jihad; silence Russia and China; paralyze the Taliban; knock the breath out of Chavez and all the little dictators who had begun to think the US was finished as a super-power. After some mopping up operations  – taking out the enemy’s nuclear development sites – we reckon there would be a long period of peace.

But we don’t have a Churchill or Truman. We have Obama, so the international crisis will intensify and spread.