Here is a question that haunts America today. The distinguished historian Samuel Huntington has an answer based on founding documents and a national creed. But the answer of a decade ago seems weak, almost feckless, in a nation transformed by demography, educational inadequacy and historical amnesia. I readily admit this “new nation” is a new nation I don’t understand and am at a loss to describe. But try I will in any case.
President Obama’s speech to the nation laid out his plan for a limited attack against Syrian President Assad and his use of sarin gas. He made his case with passion. But in conclusion, he asked Congress to postpone its vote on military action because of an apparent Russian proposal to dispose of Syria’s poison gas in return for the prohibition of U.S. force.
Among baseball’s general managers it is often said that “the best trade is the one that was never made.” Although it is an obvious stretch to international affairs, it might also be said that the best government action is the one that isn’t taken.
The road to the future has been set by the Obama administration. According to a recent global survey of more than 38,000 people in 39 countries, more people see China as eventually surpassing or already having surpassed the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower, notwithstanding the fact that many more people hold a favorable view of the U.S. While it is difficult to assess why people embrace a point of view, the declinist psychology during the Obama years has clearly been a factor in shaping global opinion.
Whether directly or tacitly, nations offer signals about their strength, willingness to act, weakness, and appeasement. At the moment the United States is in a state of “preemptive surrender,” a condition manifest by several recent events.
There was a moment after 9/11 when almost all Americans realized what could be lost to an enemy intent on destroying our people and our institutions. As time has passed, so too has much of this sentiment. Americans may be patriotic, but patriotism is generally not in the forefront of their thinking. There are, however, some Americans who consider any form of patriotic expression jingoism or misguided public sentiment.
According to President Obama “Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago.” Initially my reaction to his remark is he is playing to his constituents. After all, why not take advantage of the rabble rousing as he has done before. But my acquiescence quickly turned to anger.
President Obama recently noted that “This war, like all wars, must end.” In other words the president is outlining revisions in the legal and moral framework that have guided policies since 2001. Presumably this speech is guided by the president’s belief that we have “turned a corner” in the war with al Qaeda and other terrorist entities. Moreover, the president argued that the 2001 congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force adopted after the 9/11 attack should be revised and eventually repealed to recognize the diminished capability of al Qaeda as a terror organization.
The skies over Cairo were filled with celebratory fireworks as Egypt’s military officers removed president Mohammed Morsi, suspended the Islamic Constitution and installed an interim government presided over by a senior jurist. But these fireworks could be succeeded by a series of new fireworks that are distant from celebration.