William Kristol has a good summary about Obama’s inertia in the face of world chaos. I disagree, however, with the language I’ve emphasized:
In late 1979, with the seizure of American hostages by Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter was mugged by reality. Carter then tried, however haplessly, to change direction. But Barack Obama is no Jimmy Carter. Will Obama increase defense spending, as Carter did? Is he likely to launch a military excursion, as Carter did, over the objection—and then resignation—of his dovish secretary of state?
Carter, whatever his problems, was more hawkish than most in his party. In this he followed in the footsteps of every other Democratic president in the past century. Until Barack Obama.
It’s been a bit bewildering, even disorienting, to watch Obama get mugged by reality and refuse to press charges.
Obama hasn’t been mugged by reality. This is what Obama wanted. That’s why the comparisons with Carter don’t actually work — and it’s not just that Carter only had a four-year term, rather than an eight year term.
When Carter embarked upon his foreign policy, his imagined result was that America would still be a world leader, but one that would lead through Gandhi-esque peace, rather than through arms. When peace didn’t work, Carter pivoted in an effort to return America to leadership through economic and military strength. When he was voted out of office, Reagan did that job and did it well. Carter was a dreadful president and I seriously dislike him for his increasingly overt antisemitism, but he was still a patriot.
Obama is not a patriot. America’s total retreat is what he wanted. That is, he was never seeking world domination through peaceful means. Instead, his stated goal was to cut America down to size and make her just one nation among many. The world cheered him in that goal. Now the world is being reminded of the dictum to “be careful what you wish for because you might get it.”
Obama, however, is not weeping over his wishes being granted. He got exactly what he wished for and is undoubtedly pleased with the results. Insulated by his praetorian White House guard and sycophantic media, he doesn’t worry about the downsides of his execrable foreign policies. All he cares about is the fact that he succeeded in weakening (perhaps permanently) a nation he’s always viewed as an overbearing, racist, capitalist bully.