Two sessions were held to look at the impact Obama will have (or not have) on foreign policy, and an assessment of our enemies. These sessions were very sobering in content and analysis, and caused me to realize that despite our angst and trepidation of the effect Obama will have on our domestic policies and institutions, his most lasting negative impact will likely be felt by the rest of the world.
Victor Davis Hanson began the session with a blunt assessment of Obama’s worldwide impact,
The world was there before Barack Obama, will be there after Barack Obama, and doesn’t give a damn if he is black or charismatic.
He expanded on this thought by pointing out that for all the talk about restoring our reputation in the world, the rest of the world has its own agenda and will continue toward its fulfillment, despite how pretty his speeches are.
Anne Bayefsky is a human rights lawyer, and critic of the UN. She runs the web site EyeontheUN, which we should all plan to visit on a regular basis. She makes a compelling case that it will be through the UN that the Obama administration will create most of its mischief.
The world believes that Israel is the root of all problems, and the Obama administration will be pressured to sacrifice Israel for world peace.
The source of this pervasive anti-Semitism was explained by Professor Bernard Lewis, the foremost western scholar on Islam. It is possible to be anti-Jewish and not anti-Semitic. The original Islamic cultural “fear of the other” provided rationale to work against Jews just as readily as it supported resistance to Christians or any other group of outsiders. This is a tradition rooted in the Arab world’s tribal culture. However, anti-Semitism is a uniquely European construct that attributes “cosmic evil” to Jews. European anti-Semitism has now spread throughout the Islamic world, and is pervasive throughout the UN and its organizations.
Anne explained the mechanism that will be used to push for the marginalization, and ultimate destruction of the Jewish state. International bureaucracy is executed through UN sanctioned International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs). The INGOs operate transnationally, and are answerable to no governments. An example of their actions is the identification and condemnation of human rights violations, and cataloging the countries responsible. Israel is #1 on the list, Sudan #2, Burma #3, and the United States #4 (a ranking for which we get the privilege of paying 25% of the UN’s costs). She asserts that the Obama administration will capitulate to these organizations in order to “raise the stature of the United States” and because such capitulation will be under the radar of the electorate. There will be no political risk to doing so.Mark Steyn related a great story about the Australian government voting in favor of an INGO proposal to redefine humans from 2 sexes to 5 genders. The only reason that it was noticed, and became a political embarrassment to the Australian government, was that a tabloid reporter happened to be listening to the translation while visiting his girlfriend. Apparently, only tabloid reporters have the instincts to look for real news any longer (witness John Edwards).
On the topic of Iraq, Jay Nordlinger discussed the correctness of Bush’s decision, putting it in historical context.
Given the events of 9-11 and the real threat that Saddam posed to the world, pre-emption was a sound policy. Jay reminded us of the real state of Saddam’s regime, including his defiance of UN resolutions, his corruption of the Oil for Food program, his pending defeat of the UN, his continued ability to reconstitute his WMD program, his possession of tons of yellowcake uranium, and his continued support of terrorism. Pre-emption was clearly the right policy. Unfortunately, pre-emption enables later criticism because it can be claimed that it was unnecessary. As Bill McGurn said,
The left will never forgive Bush for not losing this war when they called it lost.
Bing West has been to Iraq and Afghanistan dozens of times, and is a former marine who writes about the military. I had dinner with him and his wife, and can attest to his intimate knowledge of military operations and strategic challenges. He was quite firm (echoing Michael Yon’s recent pronouncements from Iraq) that we have won the war in Iraq. Our victory is demonstrated by the devastating loss by Al Qaeda. While Iraq may not be internally united, everyone there is united against AQ. This rejection of AQ is permanent, and even includes the cross border tribes in Syria and Iran.
Bing asserts that the challenge for the Obama administration is going to be Afghanistan, and is severely complicated by the sanctuary provided to Al Qaeda in Pakistan. He believes that Afghanistan is going to be “Obama’s War” within 2 years.
Bill McGurn from the Wall Street Journal discussed the lack of media coverage for the military success in Iraq. He told this illustrative story, which elicited an audible gasp of disbelief from the audience,
I was one of the pool reporters covering the posthumous award of the Congressional Medal of Honor to Cpl. Dunham on the Marine Corps’ birthday during the opening ceremonies at the new Marine museum at Quantico. The pool story release was titled, “No news today”.
While the UN and the media are the instruments of choice for undermining the War on Terror, the ultimate source of the conflict is Islam. Professor Lewis offered many observations regarding Islam during an extensive interview. It is impossible to generalize Islam, because it is inherently inconsistent. Even the Koran is not consistent, allowing the justification for both peace and jihadism from the same passages. Unfortunately, 9-11 served to reinforce Islam as immune from comment or insult, protections that Christianity and Judaism do not have. We have two kinds of enemies. The first is motivated by envy. But Islam represents a second kind, where they seek to destroy the unbelievers. Osama bin Laden’s followers are very candid and clear about their belief that they are in the final stage of the defeat of the unbelievers. It is our responsibility to listen to them. As Professor Lewis said, “We are in 1938”.
He also offered that the Iranian Revolution is similar to the French and Russian revolutions, and they are in the Napoleon or Stalin phase. We must take their nuclear ambitions seriously. The concept of mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent for them, but rather an inducement.
When asked if Israel will survive, he was honest, “I don’t know”. Anne Bayefky was more certain however (while dressed in her “Sarah Palin Solidarity” towel), convinced that Iran will acquire a nuclear capability and use it on Israel through direct attack or terrorist sponsorship.
Professor Lewis did offer one hopeful observation though. He is seeing a growing number of Arabs who see Israel as a source of enlightenment in the Middle East. He told a story of a young Arab boy on Israeli TV blaming his broken arm on Zionist oppression. Professor Lewis’s companion, an Iraqi exile from Saddam, noticed that this was on Israeli TV, and that under Saddam the boy would not be on TV, if he even survived.
Some final observations were offered regarding the likely results of Obama’s policies. Andrew McCarthy sees us heading back to a 9/10 world where law enforcement is the primary mechanism for combating terrorism. He is hopeful, though, that Obama may be willing to back off on some of the really dumb ideas, like closing Guantanamo Bay. The report in today’s NY Times gives some hope that Andy might be right.
Victor Davis Hansen pointed out the results of weak policy toward China in Southeast Asia. If China becomes aggressive, then its regional neighbors will have no choice but to go nuclear. Taiwan has the capability to develop a nuclear weapon within a year, and Japan is able to produce 4,000 warheads immediately, if required. This would of course dash Obama’s dream of a nuclear free world.
Finally, Mark Steyn assessed our ability to rely on our European allies.
Europe is currently undergoing reverse assimilation, where the immigrants are forcing the countries to change to meet their cultures. Given the current demographics, within 2 generations, Europe will be majority Islam. Europe will never be a meaningful ally to us again. He also points out the inherent silliness of anti-Americanism,
America is so non-threatening to the world that they have to invent ways for us to be dangerous enough to justify the hatred. They create a construct where our consumerism is a grave worldwide threat. Buying a cheeseburger at the beach is more of a threat than our tanks.
Return to Part 5.
Part 7 looks at the Bush presidency.