By James Lewis
By Janet Levy
Mr. Obama’s Nowhere Discussions
President Obama could rather easily restore his credibility. But to do so, he would have to stop talking and start making hard policy decisions.
Barack Obama has a marvelous way of sounding innovative, fresh, and novel while offering stale, predictable bromides. His policies at home are an extension of LBJ’s old Great Society. Abroad we’ve been getting a more sonorous version of Jimmy Carter’s global self-righteous sermonizing.
The public wanted a racially transcendent figure and got instead a Chicago ward boss. The problem now for Mr. Obama — reflected in growing popular discontent — is that on matters of debt, taxes, energy, jobs, and race, he apparently has very little new to offer. He just serves up in new wording the them/us divides of the past.
We are at a point where each new proposed federal initiative — health care, cap-and-trade, a “jobs bill,” stimulus, education — is synonymous with more debt. Mr. Obama has exhausted the time-honored Beltway gimmicks of promising to root out “fraud and abuse,” of “streaming” or “reinventing” government, of “freezing” discretionary spending.
His proposed restoration of the Clinton income-tax rates does not come in a vacuum, but coincides with massive new taxes imposed by the states, health-care surcharges, and proposed raising of the caps on income subject to payroll taxes. As the deficit still grows, talk of a new federal value-added tax spreads.
In other words, when one piles up over $3 trillion in debt in less than two years of governance, all the soaring rhetoric in the world, all the borrowing from Japan and China, and all the new taxes cannot change the fact that the money is running out. There really is a finite sum that we can continue to borrow at low interest or to collect in taxes from “them.” End of discussion.
Obama has never addressed our dependence on imported oil, other than by borrowing billions to subsidize wind and solar power, alternative energy sources that so far have been more inspirational than concrete in easing the immediate energy crunch. When the worldwide economy rebounds (and it will, regardless of the degree of American “stimulus”), the price of gas at the pump will soar. It is well over $3 a gallon right now in California.
Again, all the gimmicks in the world will not change our immediate need for foreign fuel. Loud but disingenuous pledges to drill offshore and tap new gas fields do not actually equate to pumping more oil and tapping more natural gas in places like Alaska and off the California and Florida coasts. Bold new statements about nuclear power matter little; that we haven’t built a plant in three decades matters a lot.
So Mr. Obama can once again soar with “millions of new green jobs” and point to all sorts of innovative new energy sources; but for the next five years rising gas and power prices will crush the American public unless he is serious about developing the energy sources we have that could carry us through the crisis until private enterprise creates viable alternatively fueled transportation and electrical production. End of discussion.
Unemployment seems stuck at right under 10 percent. When it was under 6 percent during the 2004 campaign, the media tore George Bush apart with the charge of a “jobless recovery.” That’s not what they’re saying now. Instead we hear of an ongoing recovery from the downturn. But we won’t get robust job growth until Mr. Obama comes clean with the private sector and honestly lists how much additional revenue it will need to generate to pay his higher taxes.
The psychology of uncertainty really does matter. As long as those in industry and commerce hear that the government is the solution to the problems that they supposedly created, browbeaten individuals will not take risks and begin hiring. All the populist rhetoric, all the sympathetic statistical gymnastics from the liberal pundits, all the euphemisms of “jobs saved,” still won’t change the fact that American business believes Mr. Obama wants to take more of their money to redistribute rather than empowering them to hire and make a profit. Again, end of discussion.
Mr. Obama is also at an impasse in matters of race. His promise of a postracial era was wounded by the revelations about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his own racialist quips about “typical” white people, those who “cling” to guns and religion, and police who indulge in racial stereotyping and who act “stupidly.” His pledge was put into a coma with Van Jones’s racist remarks, Eric Holder’s “cowards” smear, and Justice Sotomayor’s lectures about the superiority of a “wise Latina.”
Fairly or not, the president has lost all credibility as a racial uniter. The public now expects an elite to mine any trace of racial insensitivity in order to create grievances, bank sympathy, and translate that into political capital — while avoiding the promised honest discussion about race.
That taboo debate would inevitably address the degree to which the depressing per capita statistics on incarceration, illegitimacy, violent crime, gangs, entitlement dependency, and lack of education within the African-American community are due to residual racism, and to what degree they stem from a failure of the black leadership to address personal responsibility, or the disastrous entitlement policies of the federal government. Giving preference to the children of a Valerie Jarrett, an Eric Holder, or a Barack Obama to enter Harvard or Yale, or wading out into a crowd of tea-partiers in hopes of snagging a racial slur for political purposes, does nothing to alleviate the tragedy in the D.C. school system or the implosion of Detroit.
So we know what lies ahead for the next two years. Sympathetic observers in the media will detect racism in the tea parties and in non-mainstream-media coverage of Mr. Obama’s disappointing performance. As never before, any African-American politician mired in ethics problems (e.g., Charles Rangel) or facing political oblivion (e.g., David Paterson) will claim he is a victim of racial intolerance.
Privately, a majority of Americans accepts that the African-American elite enjoys a particular leeway in promiscuously leveling accusations of racism — and that such exemption from criticism ultimately derives from the fact that on a percentage basis much of the African-American community is not doing as well as the rest of America, and the culprit must be either racism or a lack of government financial assistance. End of discussion.
In short, we are witnessing a public soon asked to pay higher taxes as the debt grows and jobs remain scarce, while its energy costs spike — and popular protests over any and all of that earn charges of racism.
Mr. Obama could rather easily restore his credibility by offering a plan to balance the budget that matched his tax hikes with tough budget cuts. He could offer a jobs plan centered on incentives for business and psychological support for entrepreneurs. He could offer a landmark new tax code that rewards income and savings, and taxes consumption. A multifaceted energy program might tap all the oil, coal, gas, and nuclear power we could produce as a bridge to next-generation fuels without bankrupting the Treasury or endangering our autonomy. And a fair-minded discussion of race would explore how obsession with elite racial grievances has little to do with the causes of a too-large African-American underclass.
Until then, the more mellifluously the president lectures, the more he will exhaust the voters.
— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.
President Barack Obama–this week launched a special nuclear security summit in Washington–finally acknowledges that Iranian threats to annihilate Israel are serious. Still, Obama fails to understand that applying so-called economic sanctions to Iran will be ineffectual. Somehow, despite very good reasons to the contrary, the president is now insisting that Israel learn to “live” with a nuclear Iran.
Obama confidently assumes that Tehran could be dealt with using the normally-compelling dynamics of nuclear deterrence. The problem with such threat-based optimism, however, is the always-underlying presumption of enemy rationality. Without rationality, deterrence will fail.
No system of nuclear deterrence can operate unless all of the involved countries value their own physical survival more highly than anything else. Significantly, Tehran’s new nuclear status could coincide with an unshakable leadership belief in the Shi’ite apocalypse. Here, Israel would face not only more Palestinian suicide-bombers (President Obama’s recycled Road Map toward a “Two-State Solution” will only encourage Palestinian terrorism), but also a “suicide state.”
Barack Obama stubbornly fails to recognize something critical. This is the unspeakable goal of all Israel’s Islamist enemies, which remains Jewish extermination. Oddly, this expressly genocidal goal is unhidden. In the bitterest of ironies, an ancient nation that was ingathered in 1948 precisely to prevent another Holocaust has become the fevered focus of another Final Solution.
The goal of all Israel’s enemies, especially Iran and the soon-to-be-born (and Obama-favored) Palestinian state, is to be left standing while Israel is made to disappear. For these refractory enemies, there can be no coexistence with Israel. At the end of the day, this is because their own survival is believed to demand Israel’s extinction.
Pressured by President Obama to exchange land for nothing, Israel is being pushed to collaborate in its own disappearance. Israel’s prime minister should take notice. It would be a fatal mistake for Binyamin Netanyahu to embrace Obama’s cheery belief that reason and rationality govern the world, a belief implicit, for example, in the president’s hope for “a world free of nuclear weapons.”
Barack Obama will not save Israel. Once Iran had decided to launch nuclear missiles at Israel, perhaps a plausible prospect in just a few years, Washington’s best assistance would be confined to help bury the dead. Even for this “assistance,” whole Israeli cities would first have to be converted into cemeteries.
Whether in Gaza, West Bank (Judea/Samaria) or Tehran, Israel’s Jihadist enemies wish to kill Jews because every such homicide is a deeply felt and genuinely sacred obligation. For them, killing Jews remains a praiseworthy expression of religious sacrifice. President Obama should bear in mind that such killing is expected to confer upon the perpetrators immunity from personal death. Could there ever be a more compelling expectation?
In the Islamic Middle East, power over death always trumps all other forms of power. There is no greater power in the Dar al Islam (the World of Islam) than the religiously-authoritative promise of immortality, and this promise is always linked to total war against “unbelievers.”
The core idea of death as a zero-sum commodity–“I kill you; I therefore remain alive forever”–has already been explained in certain literatures, and in psychology. It is captured perfectly in philosopher Ernest Becker’s paraphrase of Nobel Laureate Elias Canetti: “Each organism raises its head over a field of corpses, smiles into the sun, and declares life good.”
Just to stay alive, Israel must understand what Freud inner-circle member Otto Rank once called a general principle of psychology: “The death fear of the ego is lessened by the killing, the Sacrifice, of the other; through the death of the other one buys oneself free from the penalty of dying, of being killed.”
Israel’s enemies, to remain standing, and to prevent Israel from standing up, seek to sacrifice the Jewish state on a joyously bloodstained altar of protracted war and terror.
This planned destruction of Israel is not about geopolitics. It is integrally part of a system of religious worship that is directed toward the conquest of personal death.
True peace in the Middle East will never be brought about by political cliches and empty witticisms. Real wisdom is necessary, and this insight will need to be based upon a true awareness of jihadist goals and capabilities. For Barack Obama, this calls for a much deeper understanding of the interpenetrating and existential threats to Israel posed by Iran and “Palestine.”
This article is the author’s personal opinion and is not the opinion or policy of Myths and Facts.
President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday that despite his full-court press for tough sanctions aimed at persuading Iran to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program, he could not promise that China and other major powers would go along.
“I am going to push as hard as I can to make sure that we get strong sanctions that have consequences for Iran as it’s making calculations about its nuclear program and that those are done on a timely basis,” Obama said during a news conference at the end of the 47-nation summit he convened in Washington to address the dangers of nuclear terrorism.
The president met Monday with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and afterward White House aides portrayed China’s willingness to discuss the mechanics of a sanctions plan as a major development and a sign of international unity on the issue. But Tuesday, the president himself was more sanguine about the prospect of stiff sanctions.
Obama said he was “mindful” that many countries have trade and energy ties to Iran that could be disrupted but that “a strong number of nations” on the United Nations Security Council support sanctions.
But he was quick to add, “I’m not going to speculate beyond that in terms of where we are.”
Obama also left open the possibility that the sanctions won’t be successful. “Sanctions are not a magic wand,” he said. “What sanctions can do … is to hopefully change the calculus of a country like Iran.”
The president called the Nuclear Security Summit “enormously productive” overall, explaining that commitments it produced for greater safeguards and centralization of dangerous nuclear materials would make it much harder for Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to build a nuclear device.
“Because of the steps we’ve taken … the American people will be safer and every nation will be more secure,” Obama said.
The summit’s official communiqué called for all so-called loose nukes, bomb-grade separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium, to be locked down within four years.
The document is nonbinding, but Obama said he was confident that Ukraine, Mexico and other countries would follow through on promises to give up their bomb-grade nuclear materials.
Still, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was not impressed.
“The summit’s purported accomplishment is a nonbinding communiqué that largely restates current policy and makes no meaningful progress in dealing with nuclear terrorism threats or the ticking clock represented by Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” he said in a statement after the summit.
And he had similarly dismissive words for Obama’s drive for tough sanctions against Iran.
“Despite the talk at the security summit, it appears we are no closer to tough sanctions or a meaningful Security Council resolution today, seven months after the president said that the regime would face sanctions,” Kyl said. “The president’s policy to deal with Iran is failing.”
The Obama administration has generally sought to step back from what officials describe as an overreliance on fear by George W. Bush’s administration. But some analysts noted that Obama was clearly willing to bring that emotion to bear Tuesday when he described the looming threat.
“Just the smallest amount of plutonium — about the size of an apple — could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people,” Obama warned.
“The fear that people like [Donald] Rumsfeld and [Dick] Cheney enunciated is exactly the fear that Obama has enunciated — that the greatest threat the nation faces is the confluence of nuclear weapons and terrorism,” said Alan Kuperman, a former Senate aide on nuclear policy now at the University of Texas at Austin. “The massive increase in spending on this actually began during the Bush administration.”
The summit’s achievements were important, Kuperman said, but ultimately secondary to what happens with Iran.
“It’s great that Obama did this summit. It’s great that Obama did a new START treaty,” Kuperman said. “But if he accomplishes those two things and Iran gets nuclear weapons, on net, I’m not sure we’re in a safer world.”
World leaders arriving in Washington for President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit must have felt for a moment that they had instead been transported to Soviet-era Moscow.
They entered a capital that had become a military encampment, with camo-wearing military police in Humvees and enough Army vehicles to make it look like a May Day parade on New York Avenue, where a bicyclist was killed Monday by a National Guard truck.
In the middle of it all was Obama — occupant of an office once informally known as “leader of the free world” — putting on a clinic for some of the world’s greatest dictators in how to circumvent a free press.
The only part of the summit, other than a post-meeting news conference, that was visible to the public was Obama’s eight-minute opening statement, which ended with the words: “I’m going to ask that we take a few moments to allow the press to exit before our first session.”
Reporters for foreign outlets, admitted for the first time to the White House press pool, got the impression that the vaunted American freedoms are not all they’re cracked up to be.
Yasmeen Alamiri from the Saudi Press Agency got this lesson in press freedom when trying to cover Obama’s opening remarks as part of that limited pool: “The foreign reporters/cameramen were escorted out in under two minutes, just as the leaders were about to begin, and Obama was going to make remarks. . . . Sorry, it is what it is.”
Alamiri’s counterparts from around the world wrote of similar experiences in their pool reports. Arabic-language MBC TV’s Nadia Bilbassy had this to say of Obama’s meeting with the Jordanian king: “We were there for around 30 seconds, not enough even to notice the color of tie of both presidents. I think blue for the king.”
The Press Trust of India, at Obama’s meeting with the Pakistani prime minister, reported, “In less than a minute, the pool was asked to leave.” The Yomiuri Shimbun correspondent found that she was “ushered out about 30 seconds” after arriving for Obama’s meeting with the Malaysian prime minister. A reporter with Turkey’s TRT-Turk went to Obama’s meeting with the president of Armenia, but “we had to leave the room again after less than 40 seconds.”
Even the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, was more talkative with the press than Obama. Michelle Jamrisko, with Japan’s Kyodo News, noted in her pool report that Hu, at his session with Obama, spoke to the Chinese media in Chinese, while Obama limited himself mostly to “say hello to the cameras” and “thank you everybody.”
Obama’s official schedule for Tuesday would have pleased China’s Central Committee. Excerpts: “The President will attend the Heads of Delegation working lunch. This lunch is closed press. . . . The President will meet with Prime Minster Erdogan of Turkey. This meeting is closed press. . . . The President will attend Plenary Session II of the Nuclear Security Summit. This session is closed press.”
Reporters, even those on the White House beat for two decades, said these were the most restricted such meetings they had ever seen. They complained to both the administration and White House Correspondents’ Association, which will discuss the matter Thursday with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
The restrictions have become a common practice for the Obama White House. When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came to the White House a couple of weeks ago, reporters were kept away. Soon after that, Obama signed an executive order on abortion, again without any coverage.
Over the weekend, Obama broke with years of protocol and slipped off to a soccer game without the “protective” pool that is always in the vicinity of the president in case the unthinkable occurs. Obama joked about it later to Pakistan’s prime minister, saying reporters “were very upset.”
In “bilateral” meetings with foreign leaders, presidents usually take questions, or at least trade statements. But at most of Obama’s, there were only written “readouts.” Canada: “The president and the prime minister noted the enduring strength of our bilateral partnership.” India: “The two leaders vowed to continue to strengthen the robust relationship between the people of their countries.” Pakistan: “President Obama began by noting that he is very fond of Pakistan.”
Finally, away from other leaders, Obama took reporters’ questions for 20 minutes. They were tough and skeptical questions that punctured the banal readouts: pointing out that the nonproliferation agreements weren’t binding, noting China’s equivocation on sanctions against Iran, and pressing Obama on the failure to curb North Korea’s weapons. The Post’s Scott Wilson asked Obama if he would call on Israel, which skipped the summit, to declare its nuclear weapons.
“I’m not going to comment on their program,” Obama said.
Not surprising. But it’s still important that the questions are asked.
Then I grew up.
Unfortunately for America, the adolescents are now in charge: From IDB:
There’s no deep, dark secret behind the Obama administration’s strategy in defending America against nuclear aggressors, whether they be rogue powers like Iran or North Korea, or a terrorist group like al-Qaida. Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made it very clear on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the policy is the moral force of the U.S. disarming itself.According to Secretary Clinton, we now “think we will ultimately be safer if we can introduce the idea that the United States is willing to enter into arms treaties with Russia to reduce our respective nuclear arsenals.” Such a stance “will perhaps deter others from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
Of our disarmament treaty with Russia, Secretary Gates said, “I think it puts us in a much stronger position in terms of going to other countries and getting their support for putting pressure on the Iranians and the North Koreans.”
Words and paper – that’s what we heard from America’s highest-ranking officials charged with protecting us from potential nuclear aggressors. Asked about the inevitability of a nuclear Iran and whether U.S. policy has shifted to containment, Gates claimed, “we’re doing everything we can to try and keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”
Why is it that liberals believe that “setting an example” means a fig to the very nations who have demonstrated time and time again in the past that the only thing they respond to is American strength? What kind of a drug-addled mind could make the leap of logic it takes to actually believe that disarming in the face of the growing strength of your enemies – both potential and current – makes us “safer?”
A moral example? Only someone entranced with the idea of the “Brotherhood of Man” could possibly believe anything as dangerously naive as the idea that our immoral enemies would suddenly pull a 180 and begin to act as moral players on the world stage.
The New Left, after 40 years of preaching, is finally getting its day in the sun to demonstrate the efficacy of its moral tenets. We have been lectured by these arrogant sots for decades about how American bellicosity is the root cause of the world’s troubles, and that if only America would disarm, walk softly, cooperate with the UN, subsume its vital interests, and make nice with those who hate us, all will be well in the world and the fairy tale will have a happy ending.
The question in my mind is, will these people wake up in time to see the horrific damage they are doing to our security and the security of the world that we have painstakingly built up since the end of World War II? It was not a perfect world we helped to construct, but at least it kept things from spinning out of control. Does Obama and his like-minded minions at the State Department, who never met a negotiation they didn’t like, realize the drastic changes they are implementing? For the first time in 60 years, the world will operate without the US as a rough guardian of the status quo. And the breathtaking realization that no one seems to have really thought this through is frightening.
My fear is that, when things don’t go their way, that they will draw the wrong conclusion and bow even lower, disarm even further, grovel even more nauseatingly, in the face of threats and militant actions by the aggressor nations. A lifetime of advocating deliberate American decline is about to be put to a real world test.
I am not sanguine about the outcome.