Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The World's Contempt for Obama

Bret Stephens lists the Obama administration’s 2015 foreign policy accomplishments in the Wall Street Journal this morning. He notes that the list will appeal those who wallow in political delusion. Surely, he makes a good point.

In his words:

For aficionados of political delusion, it must have been fun to watch Mr. Obama rattle off his list of foreign-policy accomplishments at his year-end press conference last month. There was the Paris climate deal, the Iran nuclear deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the opening to Cuba—“steady, persistent work,” the president said, that was “paying off for the American people in big, tangible ways.”

Tangible means perceptible by touch. But the Paris climate accord is voluntary and unenforceable; the Pacific trade deal is unratified and unpopular, especially among Democrats; the opening to Cuba is “tangible” only if you enjoy taking your beach holiday in a dictatorship that, as my colleague Mary O’Grady has noted, made some 8,000 political arrests in 2015—that is, after it normalized relations with the U.S.

As for the nuclear agreement, it amounts, predictably, to another American hostage in the hands of Tehran. Iran conducted two ballistic-missile tests in the wake of the deal, both in violation of a legally binding U.N. Security Council resolution. When the administration murmured its intention to impose modest sanctions in response, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that the sanctions would violate the deal and ordered his defense ministry to accelerate its missile program.
“The White House on Wednesday morning sent a notification to Congress that the Treasury Department would announce at 10:30 a.m. new sanctions on nearly a dozen companies and individuals” linked to the Iranian missile program, the Journal’s Jay Solomon reported last week. “The White House sent a second email to congressional offices at 11:12 a.m. stating the sanctions announcement had been ‘delayed for a few hours.’ ”

As of this writing, the sanctions still haven’t been imposed. Forty-two minutes sets a Guinness record in diplomatic self-abasement.

Weak, ineffective, ineffectual, feckless, pusillanimous, pathetic… the Obama administration is making the Carter administration look tough by comparison. The suck-up to the Iranians is a complete disgrace.

You might think that Obama is in a class of his own when it comes to incompetence, or else you might be thinking that he is not playing for the home team. A man who declared himself to be a citizen of the world has dedicated his presidency to diminishing American power and influence around the world. In that we might say that he has succeeded.

Stephens writes:

In the week of the sanctions capitulation the Iranian navy test-fired unguided rockets within 1,500 yards of the aircraft carrier USS Truman as it was transiting the Strait of Hormuz. Riyadh executed a radical Shiite cleric and put an end to John Kerry’s fantasies of diplomatic settlement for Syria after it severed diplomatic ties with Tehran. China landed a plane on an artificial island built illegally in the South China Sea in an area claimed by Vietnam.

Obama is so full of himself that he probably believes that he has scored victory after victory. His self-delusion is so powerful that he probably believes that he stands above the petty affairs of world politics and is bringing a new world into being. He is does not even know that the world looks upon him (and us) with boundless contempt.

Stephens says:

Each of these acts is an expression of contempt for Mr. Obama. Contempt is the father of lawlessness and the grandfather of violence. What happens when the next Iranian live-fire exercise lands a shell within 1,000 yards of a U.S. ship? Or 500?

Looking toward the new year, Stephens sees:

Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other allies will freelance foreign policies in ways over which we have little say, even as we are embroiled in the consequences. Moscow, Beijing and Tehran will continue to take hammers to the soft plaster of U.S. resolve as they seek regional dominance. The nuclear deal will become a dead letter even as Mr. Obama insists on fulfilling our end of the bargain. China will continue to build islands while buying us off in the paper currency of climate agreements and other liberal hobbyhorses. Russia will seek to test and humiliate NATO.

1 comment:

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Obama is so full of himself that he probably believes that he has scored victory after victory. His self-delusion is so powerful that he probably believes that he stands above the petty affairs of world politics and is bringing a new world into being. He is does not even know that the world looks upon him (and us) with boundless contempt.

That's some big assertions. I wonder what's true?

First what's this contempt thing?
Robert C. Solomon places contempt on the same continuum as resentment and anger, and he argues that the differences between the three are that resentment is anger directed toward a higher-status individual; anger is directed toward an equal-status individual; and contempt is anger directed toward a lower-status individual.
Contempt can be useful to being a functioning member of the moral community. An ethics of contempt provides a much larger breadth of answers than other competing systems of ethics, whether they be based on ethics of actions (judging actions by their rightness or wrongness) or ethics of feelings (e.g., ethics of resentment). By feeling contempt for those things which are found to be unethical, immoral, or morally unsavory, one can both show that they are bad and remove them from the moral community.

So by Solomon's definition Obama is a lower-status individual?

And on the second part of contempt as a part of ethics, I'd probably agree. Iran and the rest of the world probably do often find our interference morally unsavory, thus resentment is more accurate and while I expect they find Obama's moments of passivity as a welcome relief.

I can see an insecure leader imagining others are treating them with contempt, that is to say I can imagine an insecure leader feeling humiliation.

Let's say Barry is the schoolyard bully. He's used to always getting his way, and every once and a while, he shows off his power by taking someone's lunch money usually no one even tries to stop him. Yet sometimes little kids think its cool to taunt him and run away, and he knows he can beat on them any time he wants, so he lets them have their fun and laughs and doesn't bother with them.

Are the little kids showing him contempt? Do the other kids feel contempt because they see the big bully doesn't bother punching the lights out on little children?

It just doesn't make sense to me. It seems to me Barry's status is raised not lowered by the inability of others to provoke him into actions he doesn't want to take.

Sure, if you punch up hard enough, the big bully will hit back, like slapping a misquito, but if you can't even get his attention, that's real humiliation.

On the other hand, if you can spend a few bucks on box cutters and get your hated bully so enraged that he spends 15+ years beating on small children and widening animosity against him, that's a priceless investment for recruitment for the home team. And when anyone complains about your own villiany, you say, "Hey I'm doing the best I can, but that big bully over there keeps hitting me ."

But you still don't feel contempt towards the big bully. This is gratitude you feel.