Well, after eight painful years of enduring the mendacity of the Obama Administration and wondering the guiding philosophy that has driven his chaotic foreign policy, he summed up the core principle of the American Social Progressive Movement at his final news conference yesterday:
He directly confronted Vladimir Putin’s purported cyberattacks and told him to “cut it out” or there would be serious consequences. As he delivered the line with a serious visage, one might come away with the impression that he truly believed this was the most effective way to deal with an epidemic of electronic intrusions.
“Cut It Out” Replaces “Peace Through Strength”
But, sadly, this is not the first time that Obama has employed the powerful “cut it out” threat which is more likely found on any playground as the somewhat dweeby kid is set upon by a couple of larger fellows whose sole motivation is humiliation and harassment. In retrospect, his threat to Assad that if some “red line” were crossed and WMD’s were employed in an attempt to secure his survival, some Shock and Awe II might be visited upon him like a Plague…and nothing happened.
Or when it became clear that Putin was fully supporting the use of a barely disguised proxy military force to pressure Ukrainian autonomy, Obama told Putin and Medvedev to “Cut it out!” He would arm the Ukrainians if necessary so they would be better equipped to defend themselves. But the Ukrainians are still waiting for Obama, NATO – anybody – to help them protect their country from a surrogate army.
Oh, yeah. That proxy militia managed to bring down a commercial jet, killing all 283 passengers aboard including 80 children using a Russian-made BUK missile system. Did I hear any condemnation of Putin then from the White House or the former Secretary of State or from Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN, who built a career on the premise that the US Government ignores and legitimates genocide?
Why, just 35 days from the conclusion of the Obama era, is she finally moved to speak out against the slaughter in Aleppo and condemns Assad, Russia, and Iran?
“Cut It Out” Infects the Press
But, like all things Obaman and by definition progressively pure, this “cut it out” notion has spread into the press. The best recent example of this are the comments of Tom Friedman of The New York Times who has moved ever Leftward as the Obama years have run their course. He has referred to the election of Donald Trump as a “moral 9/11”, a repugnant analogy that sits comfortably alongside the deeply personal attacks he has made in other columns. He loathes the man and now, perhaps, can begin the process of understanding how nauseated the conservative community felt eight years ago.
More offensive, perhaps, are his comments that moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (as required by law) “is just madness”. The Iranians, he says, “would make a huge issue of this” and paint Americans as “fanatical, right wing supporter[s] of the worst kind in Israel.” He should cut out this kind of crazy talk.
Now, I am not offering up commentary on David Friedman, Trump’s choice to become the new Ambassador to Israel. I will withhold that until I feel better informed. But that appointment is not relevant to this discussion. The notion of moving the Embassy to Jerusalem was widely supported by all the Republican primary candidates, and Trump appears to concur.
But the idea that the United States would hesitate for any reason to place a physical facility in the capital city of one of its closest allies because it was concerned that its appearance might antagonize Iran or its Sunni friends in the region is madness. If Israel would prefer that the Embassy remains in Tel Aviv, I’m certain that message will be transmitted without confusion.
Globalism Is “Cut It Out” Economics
Tom Friedman, who certainly deserves credit for identifying and endorsing “globalism”, this notion that our economies have become so tightly intertwined that state-based nationalism is an unsustainable, antiquated concept, has become the guiding theme of Obama’s foreign policy. More than just an economic principle, it has been extended to rationalize certain policy initiatives: that the JCPOA, for example, and the removal of economic sanctions would force some sense of normalized behavior on the Iranians; that the introduction of some measure of capitalism into China would produce greater cooperation on North Korea; that working with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and not assisting Mubarak would be demonstrative of some even-handedness.
Mr. Friedman seems to have bought wholeheartedly into this doctrinal expansion that embraces a Soros-driven “open society”: keep our economy as open and flexible as possible; create job training programs; make sure learning stresses the humanities as much as sciences; maintain an immigration policy that attracts “risk takers”; and strengthen our safety nets. This is socialist, redistributive economics and it has weakened us in undeniable ways.
We have cities that defy Federal law defining themselves as “sanctuaries” that do not deport immigrants that are here illegally even when they commit multiple felonies. Explosions of regulations promulgated by Federal agencies, not by bills passed by Congress, have produced anemic GDP growth rates and left over 90 million Americans unable to find employment.
Populism vs. Obama’s Globalism
Many Americans – certainly not all – want to bring an end to the “cut it out” approach to foreign and domestic affairs. It remains to be seen, of course, whether Donald Trump can change any of this, but his nationalistic/populist message stands in direct opposition to the borderless failures that we associate with globalism right now. And while some might see that as a step backward, a third Obama term overseen by Hillary Clinton, whom supporter Tom Friedman described as “having a weakness for secrecy”, “a flawed leader”, “occasionally fudges truth”, “is not indecent”, “has failed to inspire” and “is still in the zone of human decency”, could not frighten me any more than the unpredictable Mr. Trump who my liberal friends and relatives believe will usher in the Apocalypse.