Monday, March 04, 2013
Threat Level: Obama
By RALPH PETERS
Like Garbo, President Obama wants to be left alone.
The world annoys him. His personal interests and political agenda are domestic in focus: “An economy that works for everybody” (without everybody working for the economy, of course) is his dream. But foreign-policy crises will be his second-term nightmare.
Obama and his party behave as isolationist Republicans did in the 1930s, when they refused to take Hitler or Japanese imperialism seriously. Obama’s infamous Cairo speech, pandering to Islamists and Israel-haters, is likely to be seen by historians in a light similar to Charles Lindbergh’s giddy infatuation with the Nazis.
And Benghazi was strictly trouble on training wheels.
We have a president whose self-esteem and regal taste for power is exceeded only by his naivety about the rest of the world. Now the question isn’t whether we’ll face foreign crises — perhaps, disasters — but which crisis will strike first or hit the hardest.
Allowing for the threat that comes unexpectedly from left field (Mother Nature is the ultimate terrorist) and accepting that any estimate of dangers can change sharply overnight, here are the key “known knowns” among the enemies who wish us and freedom ill:
Obama “reset” our relations with Moscow. And to show his goodwill, strongman Vladimir Putin subverted democracy; imprisoned dissidents (including members of Pussy Riot, the best-named rock group since the Grateful Dead); staged show trials of opponents; saw journalists and regime critics murdered (some in police custody); further criminalized the economy; abetted Iran and Syria; encouraged hackers to go after our secrets and our wallets; and reinvigorated Cold War-era anti-American rhetoric. Obama’s retort? He gave Putin a strategic-arms-reduction treaty whose terms allowed Russia to cast off junk while we surrendered high-quality warheads and critical dual-use weapons. Now our president wants another round of reductions that look uncannily like unilateral disarmament.
Leftist bully Hugo Chavez is dying, and there’s no galvanizing personality to follow him. Venezuela may muddle through — or could descend into civil violence verging on civil war. And because of our energy mismanagement, we still count on Venezuelan oil to keep gas prices from skyrocketing. Crucial to the local economy, oil production has already fallen sharply; Cuban agents control key Venezuelan institutions; the grocery shelves are bare; the capital, Caracas, has become one of the world’s most violent cities; and the natives are restless. If the Obama administration has a plan to deal with any of this, I’ve never heard it whispered.
The new presidential administration may cut a quiet deal with the drug cartels along the lines of “don’t trouble us, and we won’t trouble you.” Obama’s detached from the issue, even though it could lead to a fresh hard-drugs onslaught north of the border. So much for our president’s concern for the welfare and safety of inner-city minorities. (If illegal drugs are organically grown, does selling them on the corner count as a green job?)
The Arab Spring revolutions
With our short attention spans, we quickly fell into the “Are we there yet?” mode regarding the upheavals of the Arab Spring. But just as it took over a century for Arab nationalism to play out, it will be generations before we know the final results of these events — as some Arabs strive to modernize and humanize their societies, while reactionary extremists do all they can to stop them. Layer over all that today’s struggle for the soul of Islam and you have the formula for plenty of ugly surprises, from coups through more civil wars to genocides against minorities.
We’ve lost — because we set ourselves up for defeat with absurd objectives. The Afghan leader we empowered, Hamid Karzai, betrays us right and left, but we don’t know what to do about him. We can’t extricate ourselves quickly, since we’ve built up an elaborate military presence that, literally, will take years to evacuate (through less-than-friendly states). We went to Afghanistan to kill terrorists (good idea) then decided to Americanize a primitive society (bad idea). Six hundred billion dollars and 2,000 dead American troops later, we’re leaving in failure. And Obama’s patting himself on the back for ending his own troop surge that made things worse.
The Pakistanis help the Taliban kill our troops. They hid bin Laden from us. They sponsor terrorism against India. They sell nuclear-weapons know-how to our enemies. They murder their own people, from Baluchistan to Gilgit. And we pay them billions of dollars a year in tribute money. Now they’re going to extort more to let our military equipment leave Afghanistan through their ports. But watch that space: He who sows the wind, reaps the whirlwind.
Terrorists and their supporters are, literally, all over the map. The al Qaeda apple may have been cored, but there’s plenty of other rotten Salafist fruit, and terrorist franchises dot the map from Mali to Mindanao. They’re largely regional threats for now, but beware the global visions of the next wave of jihadis. The Muslim world of the greater Middle East and northern Africa is struggling through a bloody identity crisis that will sputter on for decades. It’s reactionaries against reformers, fanatics against moderates, Sunni against Shia, Wahhabi against Sufi, Muslims against minorities . . . a civilization that’s been declining for centuries finally hit bottom. The turmoil will continue to propagate terror.
Wild card: Fanatics still long to pull off another event on the scale of 9/11 — so far, we’ve stopped them.
Within the Arab Spring, the bloodbath in Syria has to be singled out. With his dread of commitment, Obama dithered and delayed taking meaningful action as 70,000 Syrians were slaughtered. Instead of supporting the secular and moderate-Muslim freedom fighters, he relied on the Saudis and Gulf Arabs to supply weapons to the anti-regime forces. But the last thing the Saudis want is a rule-of-law democracy in Syria. So — surprise! — the arms went to Islamist militants who are fighting for a state governed by sharia law. Now nobody trusts us, the fanatics have become a major force, and the all-too-malevolent Saudis fear they’ve opened Pandora’s box.
Wild card: With Assad-backers Iran and Hezbollah growing desperate — and Israel alarmed — the Syria crisis could spark a multi-sided regional conflict.
For years, I argued, foolishly, that the way to rein in North Korea was to work through China, since Beijing wants a stable East Asia, too. I was wrong. It’s clear that China’s happy to have the volatile North Korean regime distracting us while Beijing bleeds us white. As for North Korea itself, the White House had better worry, if only because the Pyongyang regime is desperate and doesn’t understand American psychology (as the Japanese didn’t when they attacked Pearl Harbor). The new boy-leader, Kim Jong-un, might be persuaded by geriatric generals that he could do something drastic and get away with it.
Wild card: North Korean miscalculation is a grave and growing danger —that could lead to a nuclear exchange.
ON THE ATTACK
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had it right before he corrected himself: The Obama administration’s policy on Iranian nukes is containment. Obama will not lift a military finger to stop Iran’s nuclear program, and he’ll do all he can to delay and, perhaps, obstruct Israeli strikes. Our “zero-nukes” president seems to care more about reducing America’s nuclear arsenal than preventing Iran from building one. Meanwhile, Iran has effectively turned Iraq into its satellite; continues to support Syria’s Assad regime with weapons, money and thugs; has cracked down hard on its citizens; and hasn’t let economic sanctions slow its pursuit of nukes or temper its threats. Now we’re going back to the negotiating table, where the Iranians will play for time again. Negotiations are the opium of our chattering classes.
China’s already at war with us on innovative fronts — and we’re too cowardly, greedy and blind to see it. Beijing cheats us on trade; manipulates its currency to destroy our industries; threatens our allies; and wages government-sponsored cyber-war to steal our hi-tech, manufacturing and defense secrets — while preparing to take down our national infrastructure in a crisis. Obama’s response? Lodge a protest with the Chinese government. Oh, that’ll spook ’em . . .
We have a president who claims he wants to create jobs, jobs, jobs, but his fear of standing up to China destroys jobs, jobs, jobs. And Beijing robs us blind, while scheming how to cripple our nation in case we ever wise up.
And that's not all, folks:
Around the world, dozens of countries face looming economic crises (much of the European Community, Egypt, Argentina) or crises of governance (Cuba, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Congo, Zimbabwe, etc.), and the world is now so interconnected that none of these dangers, no matter how small they seem, can be dismissed. Threats develop in unexpected ways.
Our president means to ignore them until they explode.