Victor Davis Hanson wrote today about America’s complete loss of international credibility thanks to Barack Obama. Reading the beginning of the article reminded me of something I’ve often told the kids, which is that it’s easier to lose a good reputation than it is to lose a bad one:
In 1939, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier warned Adolf Hitler that if the Third Reich invaded Poland, a European war would follow.
Both leaders insisted that they meant it. But Hitler thought that after getting away with militarizing the Rhineland, annexing Austria, and dismantling Czechoslovakia, the Allied appeasers were once again just bluffing.
England and France declared war two days after Hitler entered Poland.
Once hard-won deterrence is lost, it is almost impossible to restore credibility without terrible costs and danger.
After the abject pullout from Iraq in 2011 and the subsequent collapse of the country eroded U.S. credibility, after the fake Syrian red lines, the failed reset with Russia, the Benghazi fiasco, and the slashing of the military, America has lost its old deterrence.
Under Obama, we’re the wildebeest dying in the Serengeti while the vultures circle and the hyenas wait nearby. Moreover, we’re a wildebeest without the inner strength to try to save ourself, and it’s questionable whether a rescuer is even now thundering his or her way towards us.
Obama, who turned us into this abject object, is leaving office, and it appears that those who will fight to fill his shoes are Trump and Hillary. I would have preferred someone like Cruz, brilliant, patriotic, and aggressive on an as-needed basis, but my preferences no longer matter. No matter my desires, we’re still looking at Hillary and Trump.
Despite her famous “3 a.m. phone call” political ad back in 2008, events in Benghazi showed us exactly what Hillary will do should she get the phone call: Her first instinct will be to everyone to do nothing lest doing something upset the political balance, she’ll go back to sleep, and then, once the dust settles, rather than resolving the problem, will begin to spin to clear herself of wrongdoing.
And what about Trump? Who the heck knows what Trump is going to do. He’s bombastic, angry, volatile, and devious. He is, in other words, unpredictable, with a tendency to vengeance and other destructively angry acts.
So here’s my question for you? Thinking of the world’s bad actors — all of whom Hanson compellingly describes as already making little aggressive forays against the dying American wildebeest — do you think they’d be more scared of Hillary or Trump?
My guess is that Trump will scare them more because they cannot predict what he’ll do and it’s entirely possible that he’ll respond to their testing with overwhelming force. He would be the unpredictable Madman in the White House, with the suggestion that it might be dangerous to anger him.
Of course, sooner or later, one of those bad actors will decide to test the Madman theory and do something unacceptable to see whether Trump really is dangerous when touched or if he’s all hat and no cattle. Trump will fail the test if he does nothing. His madman reputation will be instantly and utterly destroyed. He’ll just be another Obama, drawing a meaningless line in the sand….
In other words, as with the Supreme Court issue, for voters in November relying on Trump is a complete gamble. Maybe he’ll strongly defend America, just as maybe he’ll nominate conservative jurists . . . or then again, maybe he won’t. But Hillary . . . well, we know she won’t.
Moving from my Madman theory to my Sword of Damocles theory, ask yourself what will happen if Trump bails on all of his promises (promises from which he’s already backing away). What then?
My suspicion is that Trump, unlike any other person to enter the White House, has a Sword of Damocles already hanging mere inches over his head. That sword is the specter of impeachment. Obama couldn’t be impeached because racism. Hillary can’t be impeached because racism. Previous presidents were assumed competent and honest until proven otherwise.
Trump, however, would go into office with his own base distrusting his competency, honesty, and political compass . If he slips up in the slightest, rather than defending him, Congressional Republicans will be the first to snip the thread holding up that sword hanging over his head. That is, conservatives will only reluctantly let Trump into the White House and they’ll most enthusiastically push him out again, especially if he chooses an even half-way decent Vice President.
Once again, though I cannot like the man, I still think he’s a better bet than Hillary — and easier to remove if the bet proves to be a failure.