A Rudderless Superpower
The Obama Administration’s seeming indifference to the threats confronting the U.S. is very worrisome. Russian irredentism, Red China’s growing military assertiveness, Iran’s unstoppable quest for nuclear weapons, North Korea’s saber rattling, and terrorist activities around the globe all potentially harm American national interests. Perhaps the most visible symbolic illustration of Obama’s flaccidity in the midst of multiple threats to America was his appearance on national TV to announce his picks for the aptly named “March Madness,” a.k.a. the NCAA’s national basketball tournament.
This occurs in the midst of the Obama Administration’s plans to gut U.S. armed forces, reducing America’s military strength to the point where even Obama’s defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, admits our military personnel face greater risks than at any time before World War II. The Obamians are also waging economic warfare on the country’s military personnel, veterans, and their families. Add to all this Obama’s severe reduction of America’s nuclear stockpiles, cancelling key missile programs, ending our manned space program, and plans to surrender U.S. control of the vitally important Internet communication system, and one can only conclude that we are seeing the decline and fall of America as a global superpower.
Incompetence – if that’s what it is – or worse manifested by Obama and his administration is bad, but American failure to respond effectively to threats against the country’s interests is made even more serious by the reactions of most of the nation’s ruling class (especially left-wing Democrats, but even some Republicans), the mainstream media (MSM), and large slices of the citizenry.
Ever since the McGovernites seized control of the Democrat Party, a putsch only partially offset by the Democratic Leadership Council in the 1990s, left-wing Democrats have been hell-bent to weaken America’s military capacity. Under Obama and his minions, the ultra-leftists stand on the threshold of that “accomplishment.” Therefore, it is vital to acknowledge that America’s national security cannot be entrusted to left-wing Democrats.
It raises eyebrows, however, when some Republicans “go all wobbly” when it comes to America’s military capacity. Responding to the crisis in the Ukraine, Republicans such as Senator John McCain (R, AZ), have urged a forceful course of action, while others, such as Senator Rand Paul (R, KY), have been more circumspect.
The loud silence coming out of the MSM about the threats to this nation is not surprising, since leftist denizens of the MSM have long opposed a muscular foreign policy.
Data from recent nationwide polls are especially troubling.
Recent polls of “likely voters” by Rasmussen Reports suggest that the Obama Administration’s dithering in the face of Russia’s aggression against the Ukraine has substantial grassroots support, or at least acquiescence. A poll conducted March 16-17 found that 45% of likely voters rated Obama’s contribution to U.S. national security as “good” or “excellent.” Only 36% rated his performance as “poor.” RasmussenReports.com indicates that the 45% figure is up eight points above the previous week, and is the highest mark given to Obama on this subject since late October, 2013.
Another Rasmussen Reports poll conducted March 14-15, found that roughly half (52%) of likely voters favored American diplomatic action – whatever that might be – against Russia because of its annexation of the Crimea. The same poll discovered that 23% of likely voters said Russia should be allowed to annex the Ukrainian peninsula, while 42% were opposed, and 35% indicated they were “not sure.”
A poll conducted March 6-9 by the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press dovetails with Rasmussen Reports’ polls. Although Pew reports lower approval of how the Obama Administration has handled the situation involving Russia and the Ukraine -- 44% disapprove vs. 30% who approve -- over half the public (56%) said the U.S. should stay out of the crisis. Only 29% of the public said they wanted America “to take a firm stand against Russian actions.”
When Pew asked those favoring “a firm stand” whether it should be limited to political or economic options or the country should consider “military options,” fewer than one-tenth (8%) supported military options, and roughly one-fifth (19%) favored only economic or political options.
Polls like these are generally in sync with evidence showing the bulk of the public has no truck with military options, or evidently even with America taking the lead in world affairs. A Rasmussen Reports poll from early 2013, for example, found that only 11% of likely voters believed the U.S. should be the world’s policeman.
Regardless of what one thinks of the wisdom of America as world cop, there is no gainsaying the fact that, if Rasmussen’s and other recent polls showing majorities of Americans disdaining a muscular foreign policy can be believed, one wonders how today’s public would view JFK’s promise -- in his 1961 inaugural address -- that “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty.”
Are the developments outlined above sui generis, or can we identify at least one precedent, and summarize its consequences.
One has to go back only about three-quarters of a century, to FDR’s “Quarantine the Aggressors” Speech of October 5th, 1937, to find an analogy to America’s flaccid response to contemporary threats to the country’s national security and the public’s evident acquiescence.
Consider the international and domestic contexts surrounding that speech. By October 1937, Hitler had begun rebuilding German military power, and occupied the Rhineland, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Mussolini’s Italy had invaded Ethiopia. Imperial Japan had conquered Manchuria and begun a military campaign against China.
None of these aggressions had elicited more than mild protests from nations such as Great Britain and France. The League of Nations was shown to be powerless.
At home, Americans were in an isolationist, anti-military mood, seemingly enervated by revelations of World War I’s brutality and waste. Congressional budgets routinely starved the military.
Bucking opinion abroad and at home, Roosevelt called for an “international quarantine of the aggressors.” He did not specify which “aggressors” he meant, and he recommended only economic measures.
At first blush, one might reasonably wonder how FDR’s “quarantine” speech is analogous to Obama’s dithering. It’s what the two presidents’ actions tell us about the U.S. (and maybe our alleged allies) that counts.
Roosevelt’s speech backfired. Not only did countries like Great Britain and France do nothing, isolationist sentiment in the U.S. became even more vocal. Roosevelt hastily beat a retreat, and did not again broach the topic for several years.
One does not have to admire FDR to realize that the “Quarantine” speech may have been the democracies’ last chance to thwart aggression short of war. In the event, World War II did come, and it was not until a combination of good fortune, hard fighting (Midway, Guadalcanal, El Alamein) and the incompetence of the Axis tyrannies that resulted in ultimate Allied victory.
One wonders if the U.S. (and any allies) will be as fortunate in the future.