To hear President Obama tell it, things are actually going pretty damned well; swimmingly, actually, if it weren’t for the whole social media thingy.
All of that makes things pretty frightening. And then, you turn your eyes to Europe and you see the President of Russia making a decision to look backwards instead of forward, and encroaching on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their neighbors, and reasserting the notion that might means right. And I can see why a lot of folks are troubled.
… It doesn’t mean the threat isn’t there and we can’t be — we don’t have to be vigilant, but it means that we are much less vulnerable than we were 10 or 12 or 15 years ago.
And the truth of the matter is, is that the world has always been messy. In part, we’re just noticing now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through. The good news is that American leadership has never been more necessary, and there’s really no competition out there for the ideas and the values that can create the sort of order that we need in this world.
Yes, the Middle East is challenging, but the truth is it’s been challenging for quite a while. And our values, our leadership, our military power but also our diplomatic power, the power of our culture is one that means we will get through these challenging times just like we have in the past. And I promise you things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago.
This is not something that is comparable to the challenges we faced during the Cold War. This is not comparable to the challenges that we faced when we had an entire block of Communist countries that were trying to do us in. This is something we can handle, because we are Americans and that’s what we do…
One hardly knows where to begin with this smorgasbord of non sequiturs. The real question, of course, is not if things were more dangerous 20 or 30 years ago but whether they are more dangerous than, say, a year ago. Or two years ago. Putting it in the best possible light, this is simply whistling past the graveyard. Otherwise it is either delusional (if he believes it) or patently dishonest.
This propensity of Obama to try to gaslight us into believing things are better than they really are has grown so pronounced that even his sycophants are beginning to notice. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who is as firmly affixed to Obama’s nether regions as any reporter in the nation, writes in President Obama’s unnerving happy talk:
So we wouldn’t have fussed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine if not for Facebook? Or worried about terrorists taking over much of Syria and Iraq if not for Twitter? This explanation, following Obama’s indiscreet admission Thursday that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for military action against the Islamic State, adds to the impression that Obama is disengaged.
In short, Americans would worry less if Obama worried more.
In fact it is starting to resemble the story of the British cavalry officer who was so dumb that even the horses began to notice. The perpetually befuddled Vox-splainer Max Fisher says:
Obama’s foreign policy optimism during a time of global disintegration captures every worry that foreign policy hands have had about his second term: That he is unconcerned, perhaps even blithe, about rising threats and deteriorating status quos. That he has, as he’s himself admitted with regards to the rise of ISIS, no plan for addressing these challenges nor prospects of getting one. That even when he does as have a plan, such as for countering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, that plan is so cautious and risk-averse as to make little substantial difference.
It’s little wonder that the foreign policy elite in Washington — Republican and Democratic — is increasingly decrying Obama’s “drift of disengagement in world affairs,” as long-time Obama supporter and former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul put it.
What we are witnessing is the unraveling, conscious or unconscious, of the America-centric international regime that has offered the world unprecedented stability despite the existence of nuclear weapons. A close RedState friend gave his assessment (Aaron quoted it here and Erick talked about it while guest hosting for Rush yesterday):
Let’s accept, arguendo, that the outgoing DIA chief is right, and that we are now in an era of danger similar to the mid-1930s. How did we get here? It’s worth looking back into the mists of time — an entire year, to Labor Day weekend 2013. What had not happened then? It’s quite a list, actually: the Chinese ADIZ, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the rise of ISIS, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fall of Mosul, the end of Hungarian liberal democracy, the Central American refugee crisis, the Egyptian-UAE attacks on Libya, the extermination of Iraqi Christians, the Yazidi genocide, the scramble to revise NATO’s eastern-frontier defenses, the Kristallnacht-style pogroms in European cities, the reemergence of mainstream anti-Semitism, the third (or fourth, perhaps) American war in Iraq, racial riots in middle America, et cetera and ad nauseum.
All that was in the future just one year ago.
What is happening now is basically America’s version of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The President of the United States — supported to an exceptional extent by an electorate both uncomprehending and untrusting of the outside world — is Clarence the Angel, and he’s showing us what the world would be like if we’d never been born, Unsurprisingly, Bedford Falls is now Pottersville, and it’s a terrible place. Unfortunately we do not get to revert to the tolerable if modest status quo at the end of the lesson: George Bailey will eventually have to shell the town and retake it street by street from Old Man Potter’s Spetsnaz.
But the larger point here is not what’s happening, because what’s happening is obvious. Things are falling apart. The point is how fast it’s come.
It takes the blood and labor of generations to build a general peace, and that peace is sustained by two pillars: a common moral vision, and force majeure. We spent a quarter-century chipping away at the latter, and finally discarded the former, and now that peace is gone. All this was the work of decades.
Look back, again, to Labor Day weekend 2013, and understand one thing: its undoing was the work of mere months.
And things are getting worse, not better.