Obama as a world leader: not even Bush-league

January 22, 2010

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. From across the Atlantic, Nile Gardiner considers Obama’s record so far as a world leader and gives us 10 reasons why he’s no George W. Bush:

When it took office a year ago, the Obama administration boasted of a new strategy of “smart power”, designed to restore America’s “standing” in the world. In essence this new approach to foreign policy was designed to distance the new US government in every way possible from the Bush administration, supposedly hated in every corner of the earth, from Berlin to Buenos Aires.

Hence, the hallmarks of Obama’s foreign policy have been the naive engagement of an array of odious dictatorial regimes, grovelling apologies before foreign audiences, lamb-like timidity in the face of intimidation, the ending of the War on Terror, and the trashing of traditional alliances. But has this liberal foreign affairs revolution succeeded in advancing American interests and security across the globe? Hardly. Under Obama’s leadership the United States now appears significantly weaker and far more vulnerable, faced with an array of deadly threats that grow more menacing by the day.

When President Bush was in power he may not have been hugely popular abroad, but the United States was widely feared on the world stage, her enemies were hunted to the ends of the earth, and her real allies were treated with respect. As Barack Obama is discovering to his cost, the world stage is not an extension of the set of American Idol, and global leadership is not about winning popularity contests. The doctrine of “smart power” looks increasingly like an empty shell, a naive approach that has reaped no dividends and threatens to usher in an era of American decline, unless it is reversed.

But what do you really think, Nile?

I’ll let you read his list; suffice it to say I agree with them all to one degree or another. Put simply, Barack Obama has so far been the weakest American president on the international stage since Jimmy Carter, and I fear his administration’s ineptitude has left this nation one crisis away from a disaster. Some even argue that Obama and the left-liberals have chosen a policy of deliberate American decline. I’m inclined to agree. (Behind that link is a brilliant article by Charles Krauthammer, by the way. Read it.)

Back to Mr. Gardiner’s list, I’ll leave you with one that especially struck me as true:

5. Bush believed in the Special Relationship

I don’t recall George W Bush ever throwing a bust of Churchill out of the Oval Office or giving the British Prime Minister an insulting pack of DVDs. President Bush recognized Great Britain as America’s closest friend and ally, and placed the Special Relationship at the very heart of US foreign policy. Under Obama, the Anglo-American alliance has reached its lowest point since the Suez Crisis of 1956, a damning indictment of his world leadership. Bush possessed a genuine affection for the British people, their great heritage and their role in the world. Barack Obama cannot even bring himself to mention Britain in a major policy address or acknowledge the sacrifice of British forces in Afghanistan.

Britain isn’t the only ally to get a cold shoulder from Obama: Israel, the Czech Republic, and Poland, among others, all have sad tales to tell. But his treatment of the UK seems especially petty and personal, a sign of immaturity. The guiding principle of his foreign policy is a perverse form of appeasement: “hug your enemies, slap your friends.”

For all his faults, President Bush at least never made that mistake.


Religion of enlightenment watch

January 22, 2010

In most families I know, if your daughter abuses her cell-phone privileges, you punish her by taking it away for a while – a couple of days, a week, whatever. Maybe you even ground her if the offense was egregious.

You wimps.

In a truly civilized society, that is, one under sharia law, there is a much better way to handle a teenage girl who acts like, well, a teenage girl  – have her publicly whipped and then sentenced to jail:

A 13-year-old Saudi schoolgirl is to be given 90 lashes in front of her classmates after she was caught with a mobile camera phone.

The girl, who has not been named, was also sentenced to two months in jail by a court in the eastern city of Jubail.

She had assaulted her headmistress after being caught with the gadget which is banned in girl schools, said Al-Watan, a Saudi newspaper. The kingdom’s use of such punishments has been widely condemned by human rights organisations.

Three years ago 16 schoolchildren, aged between 12 and 18, were each sentenced to between 300 and 500 lashes for being aggressive to a teacher.

Under Saudi’s Sharia or Islamic law, flogging is mandatory for a number of moral offences such as adultery or being alone in the company of an unrelated person of the opposite sex. But it can also be used at the discretion of judges as an alternative or in addition to other punishments.

Al-Watan said a court in the northeastern Gulf port of Jubail had sentenced the girl to 90 lashes inside her school, followed by two months’ detention.

The punishment is harsher than tha dished out to some robbers and looters.

Okay, so she also “assaulted” the principal. At worst that merits expulsion and an assault charge, depending on the severity of the offense. But public torture followed by 60 days in jail? For a child?

Tell me again about the marvelous glories of Islamic law and justice. I love fantasies.

LINKS: Fausta calls this a death sentence.


Carly Fiorina: gender is more important than merit

January 22, 2010

I’m a great admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King, and particularly of one statement of his that crystallizes what politics in America should be:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

And, I think we can all agree, that should include gender, too.

Trouble is, Carly Fiorina doesn’t agree. Listen to this:

In other words, it’s more important that half or more of the elected officials of our government be women, rather than the most qualified person or the person preferred by the electorate regardless of gender. To Carly Fiorina, who has presented herself as a conservative for the Republican nomination for US senator from California, it is more important to represent demographic groups than individual citizens. This is nothing less than identity politics, and it is disturbing to say the least that someone who positions herself as a conservative running for office in a nation founded on the worth of the individual would advocate this. It is the fool’s path to a quota system and corporatism, something I would expect from Obama and the progressives who dominate the Democratic Party, not a Republican.

Tell me, Carly, since California is more than 30% Catholic, will our government be truly representative only when one-third of the legislature is Catholic? If it climbs to 40%, is our government no longer representative, even though those assemblymen and senators were duly elected by the people? And what about overlap between groups? If a legislator is a Black Catholic lesbian, in which group do you put them to determine “true representation?” Or is this the ultimate in efficiency, three groups for one seat?

How about we treat people as individuals, judging them by their deeds and the content of their character, and not by the meaningless accidents of biology?

Thankfully, California Republicans have a much better choice, a candidate who understands our founding principles: Chuck DeVore.

(Source: Red State. There’s a second audio from the same event in which Fiorina praises a observation made by Reverend Jesse Jackson. The post’s author wants us to be outraged by this. Well, I’m not. Don’t get me wrong: I think Jackson is a con artist, a race-baiter, an extortionist, and an overall slime of a human being, but there wasn’t anything particularly appalling in the statement Fiorina quoted. In fact, the real problem is that it was utterly vapid, a banal slogan pretending to be perceptive insight, something that Jackson specializes in. That Fiorina quoted it as wisdom is not evidence of her closet lefty-ism, but of her political shallowness. That’s the problem.)

UPDATE: I missed this earlier, but Sister Toldjah points to an article from the San Jose Mercury News about Carly’s foot-in-mouth moment, including a response from Chuck DeVore. More from Michelle Malkin.