Obama, Biden, and the Threat to American Greatness

Nearly all great nations come to an end, noted the famed historian, Arnold Toynbee.  America is no different. Whether we care to acknowledge it or not, American greatness is threatened.

Our possible demise was accelerated by Barack Obama, a man who had neither the experience, intelligence, nor ideological commitment to America to lead it.

Obama did not comprehend the simple fact that great nations do not bluff. The colossal red line fiasco in Syria spoke volumes to our adversaries. When the green revolution emerged on the streets of Tehran, Obama did nothing.

When the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt showed that its conception of democracy was one person, one vote, one time, and was overthrown by a spontaneous outpouring of millions into the streets of Cairo, Obama’s reaction was to attempt to bring back the Muslim Brotherhood.

With the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran agreement, Obama sought to let Iran develop a nuclear weapon at the expense of America’s traditional allies, the Sunni Arabs and Israel. The JCPOA was never about Iran not getting the bomb, but only about delaying it. As if that were something the Iranians would do once the agreement was implemented.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, Obama sent the Ukrainians blankets. Not one lethal weapon was sent to Ukraine, not even small arms.

When Israel retaliated against Hamas’ deluge of rockets, Obama did something that had never been done to any other country engaged in conflict: He cut off American air transport to Israel.

If there were a foreign policy decision to be made that would be injurious to both America’s security and its standing in the world, Obama made it. America had found its Manchurian Candidate.

But the injuries Obama inflicted on America were quickly renewed under President Biden. With the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) up for renewal, the Biden administration did not even enter negotiations with Russian president Putin. Instead, it folded and gave Putin everything he wanted -- a five-year extension with no negotiations.

Biden is attempting to revive the JCPOA agreement with Iran that President Trump had appropriately killed. The Iranians refused to negotiate directly with the Americans and demanded intermediaries. The meetings in Vienna are being led -- even now -- by the Russians. And they are demanding that Russia be immunized from the sanctions imposed on it due to its brutal war in Ukraine in return.

The Israelis and Gulf Arabs look upon this with horror as an act of contemptible weakness at their expense. That is precisely what it is.  It comes on top of the debacle in Afghanistan, a statement to those who depend on America that America cannot organize a retreat.

And if this were insufficient, there was Kamala Harris’ distinguishingly incompetent performance in Poland that must have sent shivers through the spine of the Polish president as she turned to him to answer questions she should have answered. No doubt, Putin was as buoyed by this as he was by watching his diplomats lead the Iranian negotiations.

Among the people who brought Obama and Biden into office are those who believed and stated that America was never great; people who wish to destroy America’s heroes and want to teach its history from the underbelly of racism and slavery.

All people need heroes, and they need a history that reflects their achievements as well as their faults.

America’s devolution into subcultures, inappropriately called “cultures,” and a regressive tribalism is exploited by the Democrats for political gain.

As we watch Ukrainians line up to get weapons to defend their country, we should ask ourselves, would Americans do this? In the heartland, yes, but among our coastal sophisticates and oppressed minorities wallowing in their victimhood, probably few would show. No doubt, the anti-gun lobby would seek an injunction against the distribution of automatic weapons. The ACLU would sue the gun manufacturers.

Only among those mired in their victimhood was America never great. The greatness of America is seen in the tens of millions who seek to come here.

But that greatness is now threatened. When Reagan was in office, the Soviets were so afraid of him that the KGB sent a delegation to talk to their counterparts in the CIA -- whom they trusted -- to discern Reagan’s intentions.

Trump was mercurial and equally unpredictable. His statements about Putin led to conclusions about policy that never occurred. Public pronouncements are not policy. Yet Trump, the Queens real-estate developer, who grew up in that gritty business, knew when it was time to take down an opponent.

When I worked in Washington, it was often said that the State Department professionals should be replaced by members of a Los Angeles street gang. Those toughs understood the world as it really was, and not as explained in some graduate seminar at Harvard.

No one can say that Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if Trump were in office, but rest assured that Polish airplanes would be piloted by Ukrainians.  It is totally disingenuous to tell the Ukrainians the aircraft are unusable and would not make a difference.

Dictators can smell weakness tens of thousands of miles away. Right now, this administration is tempting the dictators. Arnold Toynbee was correct -- nearly all great powers collapse, and this one is being pushed in that direction.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center.

Image: Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress

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