Why 2015 should be a great year for enemies of the West
The essence of Barack Obama's weakness is that he does not have the mental capacity to deal with the world's complexities. The West's opponents know this and are likely to strike out further before he leaves office and is replaced by someone more competent
If you thought the first two years of the second term of the Obama presidency meant bad news for the West, just wait for the remaining two. And of those two remaining years, there a good reasons why we should be particularly worried about the prospects for 2015.
First we need to take a step or two back: what exactly is it about Barack Obama that causes us such alarm and gives our enemies such comfort? In a sense the answer is quite straightforward and is often remarked upon: it's his weakness. The trouble is that that's not particularly helpful unless we can define precisely what kind of weakness we are talking about.
After all, the United States remains by far the most militarily powerful nation on the planet. Obama has not disbanded the Marine Corps. Nor has he shown much reluctance to use the American military to lethal effect. Far more people have been killed by drone strikes under the Obama adminstration than by any other government on the planet, past or present.
On the economic front, if America is now relatively weaker due to the financial crisis and a rising China, that can hardly be pinned on Barack Obama. If John McCain or Mitt Romney had defeated Obama in his two presidential campaigns they'd face the same problem too.
The core of the problem is not that Obama has made America weaker, it's that he has made it seem weaker. And, paradoxical as it may sound given the one compliment that is usually paid to Obama by friend and foe alike in the West, he has made America seem weaker because he is himself intellectually second rate.
The essence of Obama's weakness is that he lacks the mental capacity to deal with the world's complexities.
Many of his critics have described him as the first post-American president. What they mean by that is that unlike all of his predecessors since World War II he does not have a sense of America's destiny as the leader of a Free World that is good in itself and must be expanded if at all possible.
This is certainly a fair appraisal. One struggles to remember a speech in which Obama has even used the term Free World, let alone one in which he has enthusistically expressed his pride in America's leadership of it.
But that does not capture the scale of Obama's failure. There are decent arguments (not ones which we support) for a foreign policy based purely on short and medium term interests. Realpolitik has pedigree for a reason. But even in those terms he can't get it right.
Obama as a president is constantly surprised. He doesn't seem capable of making connections. The implications of power vacuums elude him. One moment he is telling the world that US combat troops will never return to Iraq. The next moment he's sending them back in.
China just seems to be that place on the other side of the map with a big population and the growing economy. Russia is the one to be pitied as it lost its anti-Western empire -- Obama probably concurs with Putin that Western victory in the Cold War was a geopolitical disaster. Islamic extremism is just a response to Western exploitation and if it leads to terrorism Islam has nothing to do with it anyway.
In the international arena, Barack Obama has the political sophistication of a below average 15 year old. What's worse, is that all of the West's enemies now know it. Which brings us to the reason why 2015 could be such a bad year.
The West's enemies are bound to conclude that they'd better make hay while the sun shines.
Whoever replaces Obama, even if it's Hillary Clinton, will be a far more formidable defender of Western values and interests. Whatever Russia, or China, or Iran or whoever else wants to get away with in the coming years, they'll have a much better chance of getting away with it before Obama leaves the White House.
And the year 2015 is the obvious one to go for, leaving 2016 as a year to consolidate the gains. When the next president takes office in January 2017, whatever has been accomplished will just seem like facts on the ground.
So, there we have it. And while we wish all our readers a great 2015, we honestly believe that the only people likely to prosper in international politics are our enemies. Happy New Year!
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