Both my children can sing, which is something of a surprise considering that my own caterwauling sends dogs running from the room. One of the little Bookworms performed at a choral concert just yesterday and, at the close of the concert, the choir sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” This song is very familiar to me. When Obama was first inaugurated in 2009, the other little Bookworm was in a chorus that went to D.C. to perform at the inauguration. The choir chose to sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” for America’s new president, a man who had just been awarded the Nobel Peace Price for doing . . . nothing.
For those of you who are not familiar with this lugubrious kumbaya chant, Vince Gill warbles through it here:
Musically, it’s boring; lyrically, it’s vapid; and politically, it’s deeply misguided. It implies that simply being peaceful is enough to bring about peace. Too many Americans managed to convince themselves that Obama, merely by existing, was a bringer of peace.
The contrary is true: Obama is a reminder that, when it comes the leaders of superpower nations, there are only two types of peace bringers: Those who create a Roman-style peace through conquest (“they make a desert and call it peace”) and those who serve as the world’s policeman, warning the bad actors to back off.
While we should all be grateful that Obama is not the first type of peace-bringer, it’s a disaster that he’s not the second type either. Under his weak international leadership, the world is a much more dangerous place. Syria is returning itself to the Stone Ages, one dead body at a time; the Mullahs in Iran are emboldened when it comes to their regional and genocidal aspirations; Iraq and Afghanistan, where Americans spilled their blood to bringing about less barbaric societies, are reverting to their old ways; and competitors in the world powerhouse sweepstakes are testing Obama’s strength — and finding it wanting.
The most recent entrant in that last category is China, which is testing Obama’s mettle when it comes to the skies over the East China Sea:
American leaders,for over two hundred years have recognized that, as a commercial nation, freedom of navigation was and would be vital to both our economic success and our economic security.
The US has had a number of crises with China over freedom of air and maritime navigation: The Matsu and Quemoy crisis in the 1950s; Maritime freedom of navigation in the Taiwan Straits; sailing aircraft carriers into the straits in the 1980s and 1990s; and, most recently, the air collision and forced downing of a Navy P-3 on Hainan Island.
As China becomes more confident, more nationalistic, more powerful militarily, and more economically aggressive (and arguably more desperate), these crises are likely to become more numerous and more escalatory.
The current crisis is unique for several reasons. First, the East China Sea is not the Gulf of Sidra or the Taiwan Straits: It is a major air and maritime thoroughfare vital to Japanese, and particularly South Korean, economic security. The precedent of allowing China to assert sovereignty of such a vital section of international airspace would be ominous.
Second, allowing China to do this would embolden further Chinese claims such as asserting exclusive economic and maritime jurisdiction over the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands. For the Chinese, the objective is ultimately exclusive air, maritime, and economic rights out to the Second Island Chain, a vast enlargement of China’s sovereign control.
Third, the feckless response of the US to foreign crises under Obama does nothing but embolden our adversaries. The fact that we all but apologized for sending B-52s into the claimed Air Defense Identification Zone (“it was a pre-planned exercise” not a provocation or assertion of air freedom of navigation) is further proof of the raw cowardice of this administration.
(Read the rest of this excellent analysis here.)
Peace on earth doesn’t just happen because we “let” it. It happens when you have a leader strong enough to rebuff the world’s bad actors. When it comes to Obama, the world’s bad actors have weighed him and found him wanting. Violence will inevitably follow.