President Obama declared this week the U.S. is “respected again” by the rest of the world.
This seems to be a mission he embarked on, failed miserably at — and has now declared victory in.
Although in fairness George Bush committed this same error, as I will now show, the magnitude between the two positions is enormous and it isn’t in Obama’s favor.
Russia – Putin feared George Bush, admittedly. He didn’t respect Bush and thought him a fool, but he feared him, he knew he’d hit back if pushed and would be single minded about it. Obama capitalized on this politically which showed canny political skill pre-election, but his post election “Russian Re-Set” policy, looking back now, was flawed in many fundamental ways, which simply emboldened a foe Obama really didn’t understand. Here’s the rub, Bush didn’t need to understand Putin, his policy positions kept Putin at bay without his intervention as president.
Obama’s nearly unilateral decision to change some of those long-standing policies, against the wishes of the Pentagon, the Intelligence community, our Arab allies, the Israeli right and a big part of the Israeli center (viewed as leftists here) was a mistake. It has made 30 or 40 long standing American allies that are bewildered, scared, unsure of what’s happening very nervous — but out of sheer fear of a world without a stable United States, they are hanging on, remaining loyal and even filling in the gaps where Obama and his team have left gaping holes in American power and hegemony.
I mention this here because one of those silent heroes is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has quietly held Europe together, tolerated and isolated the odious Putin, and dealt with the a delusional pair of U.S. Secretary of State’s in a row; Hillary Clinton and now John Kerry.
Merkel has used her economy, her government, her financial clout, and an iron hand within her industrial partners to enforce a chokehold on Russia that has been the only thing slowing down Russian armor and Special Forces, thousands strong now in Ukraine.
They got there by way of the Crimea, fresh from vacations in two Georgian districts. Putin is on the move, Russia is a big negative for Obama and even he can’t say with a straight face either that we’re more respected by Russia today or that we would even want to be — considering how free Putin seems to be able to move militarily with Obama in the White House.
Unfortunately our failure in this important first area of the world must include the countries of Ukraine, Germany, France, Britain, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and many others in the region that definitely respected the U.S. more 8 years ago when Putin didn’t have armor rolling toward them and they weren’t doing practice drilling on their borders to send a signal to Russia they are prepared to fight.
China – Thank God for Ash Carter the new Secretary of Defense who is holding the world together right now by a thread jetting from capital to capital making sure the damage done by 6 years of Obama’s policies doesn’t ignite WW3. Don’t believe me, look up his schedule and think about what he’s up against, this guy is the best SECDEF in years and we need him for that and more at this moment in history.
The Chinese want to legitimize the Yuan, make it a reserve currency and become a world power militarily and in regional hegemony. Period, that’s the goal and they are well on the way with a new navy, accurate small ICBM’s (courtesy of the same Clintons aforementioned), a plan to seize the South China Sea (Spratly Island construction scam) from Vietnam, the Japanese, and a list of other countries all being intimidated right now by China.
It’s truly a high wire act for China right now which doesn’t exactly have the low level of domestic dissent they did years ago and may even be experiencing some sort of power struggle at the top as well. Wealth brings power, knowledge, and the desire for more power – and in China – that loss of power can only come from 1 place, the Communist Party; which is not accommodating all this change at the same pace the national Chinese consciousness is evolving.
People never understand the real power of democracy; it’s very simple really, whether by vote or representative, democracies balance the violent faction tendency in people against the might of the collective will.
This in turn forces the national consciousness to reconcile it’s differences through a series of checks and balances (different in each system) that thwarts the violent faction struggle (primarily between the haves and have-nots) as the laws and legal structure change to accommodate the violent urge before it rends the nation itself.
In the U.S., at least once, and possibly again of course, as in most other democracies, these mechanisms fail and a civil war ensues. In the U.S. the toll was horrible, 700,000 dead out of 33 million Americans. Such a war fought today, proportionally, would have 7 million dead against a population of 330 million, an unimaginable tragedy.
That number, one of the most widely quoted in American historical literature, largely created by white historians, of course does not count the 2 million dead black slaves (out of 6 million transported) — that died as a result of the capture and transport system necessary to transport the slaves from Africa to America.
With another 300,000 dead thrown in for early death due to poor living conditions for the slaves after purchase and settlement, you really have over 3 million dead, or 10% of the population killed for an institution that violent faction would not surrender, mostly for economic reasons, as stated above — the have and have-nots are the root of almost human struggle.
China is bubbling under that same cauldron right now and the breadth of the problems and ethnicities there that could break into violent faction is staggering. Even if you want to be generous and call China a “respect” tie for Obama, that isn’t the real problem, this September’s summit with Xi is the problem. If the Obama team doesn’t go into that important meeting with their policy positions much cleaner than they are right now, (meaning less internal contradiction,) the U.S. is in trouble.
China’s current demands and how they are handled by Obama’s team will effect the final calculus on whether the world’s current problems end in WW3 or not. The XI and Putin relationship is not factored into White House policy at all and this is a big error, among many. His focus on “respect” and not this critical list of issues like SDR, the trading band, the demand economy in China, civil rights in the Chinese territories (Hong Kong, etc) and of course the continued escalation of the Chinese navy hegemony machine is the problem. PBoC policy, support of the repo market with forex, and their overall credit policies, in conjunction with Federal Reserve policy, needs a much higher profile and comprehensive policy outline by Obama before this meeting.
Yemen – No contest here, Obama blew this and the region does not respect him for it.
Syria – No contest here, Obama’s policies and Kerry’s mouth and Clinton’s greed have set this nation and the region surrounding into a firestorm of death.
Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries – No contest here, the Saudi’s despise Obama and stood up his summit to demonstrate it to the world.
Egypt – This critical ally was so badly handled by Obama personally, only our countries friendship with the people of Egypt has salved this wound, Sisi is fighting the war in North Sinai and as an anti–Brotherhood foe we badly need him to be – without Obama. Respect? Contempt would be closer to the truth.
Libya — far worse, of course.
Nigeria is a special case – the new leader, General Buhari, would traditionally have been a foe of this new Obama foreign policy – except his paid political strategist was David Axelrod who took this job within months of leaving the White House – a nearly impossible conflict of interest — which is apparently going to sink out of sight unnoticed. Nevertheless, despite it’s corrupt and probably criminal origins, I give this critical nations “respect” vote to Obama.
This leaves the 900 lb. gorilla in the room, Iran and Israel. No doubt here, Obama worked hard to convince the Israeli people he knew more about their security situation than they do — and he got the result he should have expected — the most right wing Israeli government in modern memory.
Even leftist in Israel are writing columns calling his policies and statements naïve and dangerous and that’s after he personally taped an interview for Israeli TV explaining his position to them. He was openly ridiculed in their press and even by the TV interviewer. She didn’t throw a shoe at him, but she’s a professional. Sort of a big anti-respect vote here for Obama.
Iran I give to Obama.
All in all not a great score card. Certainly not one I would declare victory with. It reminds me of George Bush really, that day on the carrier with that stupid banner — I remember having a sick feeling that this was all a mistake, that pride and policy miscalculations, including wars, always precede the fall and that just seemed to prideful to be healthy.
I see Obama’s statement today in an even darker light. He isn’t foreshadowing some future reversal here with this statement, he’s attempting to use the remaining media power he has left, to sell one more propaganda position, that is not valid at it’s core.
I’m not worried though, George has this one, and I don’t mean George Bush, but George Washington — who built a system hopefully strong enough to see us through all this smoke and mirror gamesmanship with the constitutional mechanisms of checks and balances — that can be tilted, but rarely tipped over.