by John Hawkins | April 24, 2009 7:28 am
“From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking.” — Niccolo Machiavelli
“There is such a gap between how one lives and how one ought to live that anyone who abandons what is done for what ought to be done learns his ruin rather than his preservation: for a man who wishes to profess goodness at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.” — Niccolo Machiavelli
George Bush defined success in foreign policy by how much he got done for America. On the other hand, Barack Obama seems to define success by how many people across the world chant his name.
This sort of needy “if you’ll be my friend, I’ll let you swim in my pool” mentality is a common failing of modern liberals who are so hemmed in by the ridiculous rules they’ve set up for themselves, that it’s almost impossible for them to effectively deal with foreign threats.
Among other things, most liberals, Barack Obama included, have bought into the Chomskyian idea that the United States is at the root of all evil in the world. They believe that the weaker party in a conflict, by virtue of being weaker, must almost certainly be right. They feel that military power should be used for the collective welfare of all humanity, not to benefit our nation. They’re also believers in transnationalism and ceding the sovereignty of individual nations to international bodies like the U.N.
The problem with beliefs of this sort is twofold: they’re completely at odds with the way that the world really works and they severely limit the potential options we have in foreign affairs.
Ironically, even though liberal Democrats don’t understand the limits of their beliefs, other nations seem to understand perfectly. That’s why, for example, Pakistan sided with Bush over the Taliban, but has sided with the Taliban over Obama. It’s why the Somali pirates didn’t have the cahones to take an American ship while Bush was President, but have started going all “Pirates of the Caribbean” on American shipping since Obama got in. If you’re wondering why Kyrgyzstan decided to stop allowing us to use a key military base for re-supplying Afghanistan, that’s why. There’s much to be said for talking softly and carrying a big stick, but nothing to be said for setting the stick down and just talking softly.
That’s not to say that every foreign policy challenge we have is related to Obama’s weakness and the limitations his ultra-liberal ideology put upon his actions — because every President faces difficulties on the foreign policy front. But, Obama goes into every situation with both hands tied behind his back and it forces him to do foolish and desperate things to get a reaction.
Just to name one example, Barack Obama told the world he’d be closing the prison for terrorists in Guantanamo Bay before he figured out what to do with the prisoners we hold there. As a result, we will have terrorists who go free because the American justice system isn’t capable of effectively dealing with them — and some of them may be released on U.S. soil.
Moreover, despite all the huffing and puffing about how terrible Gitmo was — from nations that didn’t have the courage to get their hands dirty in the fight against terrorism — when Barack Obama did what they asked, very few European nations stepped up to the plate and agreed to take prisoners off of our hands. So, Barack Obama may be drawing applause in Europe and South America for disgracefully slandering his own country, but that’s not leading to any sort of real cooperation.
That shouldn’t be a big surprise because most of the world is not rooting for America to succeed. There are literally hundreds of millions of people in the world who want to see the United States humbled for no other reason than petty jealousy. There are others who want to see the United States weakened because they think we stand in the way of their dreams of genocide, subjugation of their neighbors, the ascendancy of their religion – or, yes, just because they don’t like how we make freedom, capitalism, and democracy seem appealing — when they offer and approve of none of those things. The attitude of these nations towards us can be summed up with that classic line from 300, “Give them nothing, but take from them everything.” To believe that we can throw the stick away and dangle enough carrots in front of these nations to create a win/win situation is hopelessly naive.
Think about it like this: if the law still required us to pay taxes, but there was no legal penalty whatsoever for not paying them, how many Americans would continue to pay? Probably only a small percentage at first and then that number would quickly approach zero after those Americans realized everyone else was getting away with not paying. The same principle works with speeding tickets. What if it were still illegal to speed, but you weren’t required to stop for the police or pay tickets? How many Americans would still drive 55 if they were inclined to go faster? Almost none. So, if even our fellow Americans can’t be made to pay taxes or drive under the speed limit without the dread of punishment, how can we expect Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, or Russia to act responsibly if they believe they have nothing to fear from us?
This is why Barack Obama’s pardon, prostrate, and plead foreign policy is so misguided and dangerous. It disheartens our friends who no longer can count on our being strong. It emboldens our enemies who realize they have nothing to fear from America and view that as an opportunity to commit mischief. It even encourages nations that are in-between friends and foes to try to take advantage of us while we have a naive fool who doesn’t look out for his own country’s interests in the White House.
As P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and unfortunately the American people are going to pay a heavy price on the foreign policy front because we have one of them as our commander-in-chief.
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