One of the wisest American former officials I know asked me a few nights ago: “Michael, put on your thinking cap, and tell me where the United States will be four years from now, if Barack Obama is president.”
I had been trying to avoid that question in my own mind. I have tried to tell myself the old proverb (told me by my father), “God takes care of children, drunks, and the United States of America.” I have tried to imagine that Obama will not be president.
But I should try to do the responsible thing: follow the trail from Obama’s announced principles and policies to their probable effects, based on how we have learned that the world actually works.
The number one issue, orders of magnitude greater than others, is what will happen in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other sources of worldwide terrorism — suicide bombers, haters of Israel, and would-be destroyers of the United States and her allies. What will happen in Iraq? What will happen in Iran? What will happen in Pakistan?
Our Democratic party ever since George McGovern’s candidacy in 1972 has wished and wished, like an undisciplined child, for a benevolent world of peace, in which we could “talk to” and “reason with” those leaders whom earlier administrations had learned they could neither trust nor deal with as rational, benevolent partners. Earlier administrations had also hoped that other leaders of nations respected us, and meant us well. Events like the bombing of the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, and September 11, 2001, plus the subsequent fury and irrational cruelty of jihadists around the world, disillusioned them. But not, apparently, Obama; nor many members of the left-wing generation he represents.
The partisans of the welfare state demand peace, in order to pay for its insatiable need to keep handing out more and more benefits. That is why left-wing statists take peace as their natural inheritance. They cannot go on without it. They do not intend to pay any price for it; there are no funds left for that.
Given the historical record of the last 200 years (and more), what can we expect from this nursery-room fantasy? An untypical, even unprecedented era of peace? Or, on the contrary, the salivating determination of enemies to celebrate our visible moral weakness, and to slay their hated enemy while we bow our heads, standing there as weak and frightened supplicants? When a head is lowered from weakness, they strike it off.
In my experience, unwillingness to fight earns one contempt, further furies of terror, and truly bitter war. But perhaps other observers trust human nature more than I.
If the United States shows signs of weakness, surrender, and a one-sided departure from Iraq, the rejoicing of those who predicted that they would in the end defeat us will profoundly strengthen their resolve for the next battle. Further, without an offensive thrust in Iraq, any military forts or airfields of ours would be sheltered in a defensive enclave — announcing to those who hate us that they should keep killing two or more Americans every day, drip, drip, drip, until the American people cannot stand it any more. Weakness once shown invites fiercer aggression.
Iran will thus have its nuclear weapon by 2012, secure in the knowledge that Americans have no heart to do battle to prevent it.
In Pakistan, forces of economic and political development will know that they can no longer count on the Americans as a last resort. They would soon — to save their families — begin to yield more and more space to jihadists, terrorists, and promoters of sharia law. Free nations by 2016 will be far weaker than now, with far less space in which to alter the direction of terrorism.