'The United States Global Leadership has Eroded'
That's the title of an op-ed in the Washington Post by Lawrence Summers.
Yes - that Lawrence Summers. Former Clinton Treasury Secretary and former economic advisor to President Obama. Summers doesn't mention Obama by name or blame him outirght for the sorry state of affairs, but who else is he talking about here?
At a time of high tension in Europe, with Russian adventurism in Ukraine, pervasive conflict and instability in the Middle East and rising tensions within Asia as China makes its presence ever more strongly felt, the choices the United States makes will have far-reaching consequences. It is no exaggeration to say that there is more doubt about our willingness to stand behind our allies, resist aggression and support a stable global system than at any time in decades.
Even more scathing here:
Effective engagement at flash points is essential, but crisis response is never as good as crisis prevention. Somewhat lost as the world focuses on global hot spots is the danger that the United States will abdicate the responsibility it has taken for 70 years — since World War II — for supporting a more integrated, increasingly rule-based and faster-growing global economy. It is the success of this project that explains why history played out so differently after the Second World War than after the first, and it is this project that won the Cold War by demonstrating that capitalism, rather than communism, was the best way forward for the world’s people.
This is obviously not some delusional rant by a GOP back bencher. This guy has been a player in international financial circles for two decades. And this should be a wake up call to other Democrats who are still supporting President Obama down the line:
Coaches know that there is nothing more dangerous for a sports team than retreating into passivity out of fear of making a mistake. Whether it is because of a desire to sit on a lead or because of nerves following a setback, failing to advance aggressively is almost always a strategic error.
What is true in athletic competition is all too true in the life of nations. While imprudence is never good, excessive caution in the name of prudence or expediency can have grave consequences. A nation will never have more power or influence than it has ambition to shape the global system. A sense of fatalism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as adversaries are emboldened and allies move either to appease rivals or to provide for their own security.
The subtext here is that the administration is paralyzed and is playing an entirely reactive game overseas. Summers doesn't say it - probably doesn't realize it - but the import of his words is that President Obama and his advisors have either lost or never had faith in America and her leading role in the world to begin with. The president has no "ambition to shape the global system" because he believes America should defer to others.
It's not working and Summers knows it. So do most other Democrats. The rats are deserting the ship and Summers won't be the last.