Thursday, June 26, 2008

Obama the Next Jimmy Carter?
-- How About the Next John F. Kennedy?

I've heard a couple of folks express concern that Obama could be the next Jimmy Carter. That would be bad, but I think he could be the next JFK, which could be even worse.

Check out this excerpt from this article by Tony Blankley from Real Clear Politics:

Now, it is doubtlessly true that our invasion of Iraq (and Afghanistan) helped al-Qaida's recruitment. I have been told that by U.S. government experts I trust. But that is an old fact. What Osama bin Laden famously said about recruitment is also true: People follow the strong horse. And the new fact is that as we are winning in Iraq, as we are killing al-Qaida fighters and other Islamist terrorists there by the truckload (along with other insurgent opponents of the Iraqi government we support with our blood and wealth), we are proving to be the strong horse after all and can expect to see a reduced attraction for young men to join the Islamist terrorist ranks.

Fighting and winning always impress. Even merely fighting and persisting impress. Shortly after the fall of Soviet Communism, I had dinner with a then-recently former senior Red army general. He told me that the Soviets were astounded and impressed by the fact that we were prepared to fight and lose 50,000 men in Vietnam, when the Soviets never thought we even had a strategic interest there. They thus calculated that they'd better be careful with the United States. What might we do, they thought, if our interests really were threatened?

What kind of message is our next president going to send to our friends, adversaries and enemies? With regard to Obama, in the world of Realpolitik, our adversaries and enemies aren't going to give a rat's a** about "hope" and "change". And, if they sense or suspect our president is a gullible naif in the world of power politics, they will exploit that weakness to their advantage.

We saw this happen with Jimmy Carter when the Soviets took advantage of him by invading Afghanistan. But, we also saw this, and paid a much larger price, when the Soviets perceived John Kennedy as a lightweight. This emboldened them to try and install nuclear missiles in Cuba and, as a result, we almost had World War III.

And, despite liberal historians depiction of Kennedy as some sort of master diplomat staring down the Russians, the truth is his handling of that crisis demonstrated strategic stupidity of the highest order. In Diplomacy 101, everyone learns that "saving face" is the key to relations between nations. When you win an international dispute, you always -- always -- give your adversary a face saving "out".

Kennedy did not do this in the Cuban Missile Crisis. To the contrary, by very publicly confronting the Russians, he put them in the position of either fighting or backing down. They knew they could not win a war against us in our hemisphere, so they had to back down; they were humiliated in front of the world and, consequently, were determined to not let it happen again. Since Kennedy embarrassed them and did not give them a face saving way out, we got into a huge arms race that cost our nations billions upon billions of dollars over the next 20 years.

If it's a choice between Obama-as-Carter or Obama-as-Kennedy -- give me an inept Obama-as-Carter instead of another dangerously stupid Obama-as-Kennedy.

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