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Safe, Benign, and Confident hands.

stephens

Bret Stephens writes The Meltdown in the September Commentary.

Excerpts:

Should any of this have come as a surprise? Probably not: With Obama, there was always more than a whiff of the overconfident dilettante, so sure of his powers that he could remain supremely comfortable with his own ignorance. His express-elevator ascent from Illinois state senator to U.S. president in the space of just four years didn’t allow much time for maturation or reflection, either. Obama really is, as Bill Clinton is supposed to have said of him, “an amateur.” When it comes to the execution of policy, it shows.

The myth of Obama’s brilliance paradoxically obscures the fact that he’s no fool. The point is especially important to note because the failure of Obama’s foreign policy is not, ultimately, a reflection of his character or IQ. It is the consequence of an ideology.

That ideology is what now goes by the name of progressivism, which has effectively been the dominant (if often disavowed) view of the Democratic Party since George McGovern ran on a “Come Home, America” platform in 1972—and got 37.5 percent of the popular vote. Progressivism believes that the United States must lead internationally by example (especially when it comes to nuclear-arms control); that the U.S. is as much the sinner as it is the sinned against when it comes to our adversaries (remember Mosaddegh?); and that the American interest is best served when it is merged with, or subsumed by, the global interest (ideally in the form of a UN resolution).

A new order that’s based on a different set of principles: Just what could that new order be? In the absence of a single dominant power, capable and willing to protect its friends and deter its foes, there are three conceivable models of global organization. First, a traditional balance-of-power system of the kind that briefly flourished in Europe in the 19th century. Second, “collective security” under the supervision of an organization like the League of Nations or the United Nations. Third, the liberal-democratic peace advocated, or predicted, by the likes of Immanuel Kant, Norman Angell, and Francis Fukuyama.

Yet, with the qualified exception of the liberal-democratic model, each of these systems wound up collapsing of its own weight—precisely the reason Dean Acheson, Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and the other postwar statesmen “present at the creation” understood the necessity of the Truman Doctrine, the Atlantic Alliance, containment, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and all the rest of the institutional and ideological architecture of America’s post–World War II leadership. These were men who knew that isolationism, global-disarmament pledges, international law, or any other principle based on “common humanity” could provide no lasting security against ambitious dictatorships and conniving upstarts. The only check against disorder and anarchy was order and power. The only hope that order and power would be put to the right use was to make sure that a preponderance of power lay in safe, benign, and confident hands.

In 1945 the only hands that fit that description were American. It remains true today—even more so, given the slow-motion economic and strategic collapse of Europe. Yet here was Obama, blithely proposing to substitute Pax Americana with an as-yet-unnamed and undefined formula for the maintenance of global order. Little wonder that leaders in Tehran, Beijing, and Moscow quickly understood that, with Obama in the White House, they had a rare opportunity to reshape and revise regional arrangements in a manner more to their liking. Iran is doing so today in southern Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. Beijing is extending its reach in the South and East China Sea. Russia is intervening in Ukraine. It’s no accident that, while acting independently from one another, they are all acting now. The next American president might not be so cavalier about challenges to the global status quo, or about enforcing his (or her) own red lines. Better to move while they can.

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Inherited Dilemmas

Bret Stephens writes The Meltdown in the September Commentary.

Excerpts:

Then again, every president confronts his share of apparently intractable dilemmas. The test of a successful presidency is whether it can avoid being trapped and defined by them. Did Obama inherit anything worse than what Franklin Roosevelt got from Herbert Hoover (the Great Depression) or Richard Nixon from Lyndon Johnson (the war in Vietnam and the social meltdown of the late ’60s) or Ronald Reagan from Jimmy Carter (stagflation, the ayatollahs, the Soviet Union on the march)?

 

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Supremely Comfortable With His Own Ignorance

Hillary’s Foreign Policy Failures

a comprehensive look, also scan the 80+ commments at AT.

A similar look, though more focused on Obama,  from Bret Stephens in Commentary: The Meltdown

excerpts:

Even the ordinarily sympathetic Washington press corps has cottoned to the truth about Obama’s style of management. “Former Obama administration officials,” theWashington Post’s Scott Wilson reported last year, “said the president’s inattention to detail has been a frequent source of frustration, leading in some cases to reversals of diplomatic initiatives and other efforts that had been underway for months.”

Should any of this have come as a surprise? Probably not: With Obama, there was always more than a whiff of the overconfident dilettante, so sure of his powers that he could remain supremely comfortable with his own ignorance. His express-elevator ascent from Illinois state senator to U.S. president in the space of just four years didn’t allow much time for maturation or reflection, either. Obama really is, as Bill Clinton is supposed to have said of him, “an amateur.” When it comes to the execution of policy, it shows.

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Planned Chaos

john-mccain-here-are-11-things-obama-should-do-about-ukraine-right-now

from Iraq War Regrets in The National Review, a compendium of analysis.

Michael Pakaluk

The term for the main virtue of practical intelligence, prudence, comes from a contraction of the word for foresight, “providentia.” So it should cause no surprise that in prudence, we should think about Iraq using two clear-headed statements from the past.

The first is Colin Powell’s “If you break it, you own it” statement. Expanding on the idea in 2002, Powell said, “You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems.” Such a statement is implied by basic principles of responsibility. Once the U.S. intervened in Iraq to the point of becoming for a time its de facto sovereign authority, it would be responsible for Iraq’s future course until it developed an independence and sovereignty that were free and clear of that intervention. But in reality, Iraq never did develop that sort of independence; it was merely asserted to have done so on political grounds and given certain interests.

The second statement is John McCain’s famous one that the U.S. might need to be a police force in Iraq for 100 years or more. In making the statement, McCain was rightly bearing in mind our responsibility to Iraq. He explained: “Both Senator Obama and Clinton want to set a date for withdrawal — that means chaos, that means genocide, that means undoing all the success we’ve achieved and al-Qaeda tells the world they defeated the United States of America.” We have seen chaos; we have seen genocide; and we have seen the undoing of everything that was achieved, exactly as McCain warned.

HKO

In order for a war to end you must fight as if it will never end.  Our impatience is our biggest handicap.  Perhaps it would be different if it was fought on our soil. On their soil our enemies have all the time in the world.

For a war to end you must fight as though it will never will.

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Trust Them This Time

polar-bears-mate-at-berlin-zoo

From Erick Erickson in Townhall, The Continued Farce:

excerpt:

In the United States today, more and more publications refuse letters to the editor from skeptics of global warming. As the world stays in this plateau of no warming, which we have been in for 17 years, the left works harder to silence dissent.

In A.D. 325, Emperor Constantine convened the First Council of Nicaea to establish the parameters of Christian doctrine. St. Nicholas, before passing out presents to children, attacked Arius, an Egyptian cleric who embraced heresies in the Council.

Two thousand years later, the secularists have convened their own Council of Nicaea under the rubric of the IPCC to set the parameters of their secular religion. But instead of Santa Claus attacking heretics, the left has journalists attacking a skeptical public as “holocaust deniers” for daring to be skeptical of moralistic crusaders who have caused the deaths of many and been wrong so often in their environmental and scientific prognostications. But trust them this time.