It’s Kim Jong-un’s World; We’re Just Living In It
. . . after all she is the architect of the Obama foreign policy.
"News that North Korea has detonated another bomb comes as no surprise; few things are as obvious in this crazy world as the fact that this murderous dictatorship is making steady progress on its weapons program. The Norks are getting better and better at making more powerful bombs and longer range missiles to put them on. President Obama, like Presidents Clinton and Bush before him, sputters indignantly and wrings his hands, but the tick-tock tick-tock of North Korean nuclear build-up goes on.
This tells us many things. It tells us that the security situation is going to continue to deteriorate in East Asia. It tells us that China has resigned itself to an era of confrontation with Japan. It tells us that both South Korea and Japan are losing confidence in America’s will and ability to do anything serious about the scariest security problem they face.
Beyond that, it’s a harsh reminder that, despite the illusions and the optimism of the liberal internationalists among us, the world still runs much the same way it did one hundred years ago. When hard power fails, all the UN Declarations of Human Rights, all the Security Council resolutions, all the noble speeches about the “international community” are just so much hot air.
Kim Jong-un is getting away with a nuclear build-up and a murderous dictatorship because he can. In theory, the world’s great powers have the ability to stop him. In practice, they are too divided, too busy knifing each other in the back, to cooperate against even a very small and poor country. China won’t cooperate with the United States to stop North Korea because the government in Beijing doesn’t think it is in its national interest to do so. The United States can’t compel China to change its mind about its Korea policy because we lack the strength."
While I am a free trader, we have substantive power right now to simply ask China to take the Norks to task, strongly admonishing them that China's Most Favored Trading Nation status is in the dock. Yes, removing that would trigger a Chinese existential crisis, and possibly worse, but this would bring them around pretty quickly to understand that the US is serious.
But President Feckless O'Dither can't be bothered with actual foreign policy, he has Lurch, er, Kerry, to handle those problems. And while we can all thank God we dodged a Lurch Presidency, we did not dodge a Lurch Secretary of State.
"We don’t live in the world the “liberal internationalists” have imagined exists; we live in a world where, more and more, the law of the jungle applies.
We should not forget that stopping the North Korean nuclear program has been at the center of U.S. foreign policy since the Clinton Administration. Back in the 1990s, everyone praised the Clinton Administration for negotiating a peaceful conclusion to the North Korean nuclear program. The decision not to attack the North but to trust to the healing powers of diplomacy was almost universally applauded. It may still have been the right thing to do, but one can hardly call it a success."
I will only be a success if we avert war, and achieve a reasonable result. That is not in the cards in hand.
"The problem isn’t that the goals of the liberal internationalists are bad goals. They are excellent goals: no war, the spread of democracy and human rights, limits on weapons of mass destruction, strong institutions. The world they dream of is a much better world than the one we have now. And the liberal internationalists are also right that the world can’t afford to go on in the old way. Given 21st century technology and the vulnerability of our large urban populations to anything that disrupts the intricate networks on which we all depend, old-fashioned great-power politics with its precarious balance of power shored up by recurring wars is a recipe for utter disaster and, maybe, the annihilation of the human race.
But the difficulty that over and over sinks hopeful efforts by liberal internationalists is this: Liberal internationalist methods won’t achieve liberal internationalist goals. Power, not communiqués, is what makes the world go round."
This is the most obvious problem with our Empty Suit President, no power, no projection, no willingness.
"Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has had the power and the alliance networks to move the world toward liberal order. We have sometimes acted wisely and purposefully in the service of that agenda, but even at our best our concepts of liberal order were too crude to work as well as we hoped. Too often, our actions were foolish and misguided."
But better acting even if misguided than dithering, and allowing the forces of evil to have their sway.
"However we assign the blame, and there is plenty to go around, it’s been increasingly clear since 2001 that the world’s progress toward a stable and liberal world order began to slow under Bush and has reversed under Obama. The world is less peaceful, less stable and less liberal today than it was when Barack Obama took the oath of office in January, 2009; Kim Jong-un’s latest nuclear test, and the lack of an effective response by the United States, is merely a sign of the times."
Unlike Mead, I categorize Bush as being in the camp of purposefully acting in the service of an agenda working towards the liberal order, but failing due to a mistaken understanding of the how the enemy would respond to the action. I place Bush fully as one of the positive Presidents, but one who due to circumstances, was unable to achieve the desired results, so a lesser to the great Presidents pushing the liberal order forward.
Obama, however, is not in this pantheon. His lack of action, his dithering, his anti-liberal actions have seriously derailed US foreign policy, and the movement towards more liberal order.
The Cheshire Cat President
The Shambolic Presidency.