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Victor Davis Hanson: America Rides Off into the Sunset - The only people excited about the...
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE ^ | February 4, 2010 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 02/04/2010 9:03:08 AM PST by neverdem

America Rides Off into the Sunset

The only people excited about the “change” in America's foreign policy are the world’s bad actors.

 

Thousands in Tokyo have been echoing Barack Obama’s signature call for “change” — as in “Change Japanese-U.S. relations!”

Our military is rushing anti-missile batteries to Iran’s Arab neighbors in anticipation of new Iranian military escalation.

As in the case of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, the U.S. both gives the most aid to a devastated Haiti and still seems to receive the most criticism.

China has just warned us not to supply more armaments to Taiwan.

Our Predator drones continue to be the judge, jury, and executioner of suspected terrorists in Pakistan.

What’s gone wrong with Obama’s dream of multilateral cooperation?

For starters, the world’s tensions were not caused by, and remain far larger than, George W. Bush — and thus cannot be easily solved by his absence.

Obama also has apparently confused what people say with what nations do.

The world’s masses — most of them young, poor, and non-Western — may applaud a hip, post-racial Barack Obama more than they ever would an old-money Texan like Bush. Obama may give soaring Wilsonian speeches abroad and be crowned with the Nobel Peace Prize for his anointed vision of a new global brotherhood.

But, unfortunately, national leaders themselves do not behave like excited concertgoers or European intellectuals. Instead, they have only long-term self-interests — not temporary emotional crushes — and so seek to expand their influence whenever they can.

Obama had better understand that difference. A world without strong U.S. leadership really would become a far more dangerous place where the strong do as they please and the weak obey as they must.

After World War II, a reluctant America guaranteed a global system of secure trade and encouraged free-market capitalism and democracy. Both Communist and fascist tyrants fought those efforts, eager to expand totalitarianism beyond their borders. Envious allies and neutral countries that benefited enormously from the American-enforced system resented the high profile of the United States.

All that responsibility was unpopular and costly for the United States. But the American people felt the activist bad choice was far better than the alternative of passively allowing more of the kind of chaos that had wrecked much of civilization in the first half of the 20th century.

And if allies sometimes derided America, privately they were mostly relieved that there was some sort of policeman — and that it was us and not an authoritarian nation like China, Iran, or Russia.

After winning the Cold War, the United States continued to keep the peace that allowed globalization to lift millions worldwide out of poverty. In bipartisan fashion, under presidents Reagan, Bush I and II, and Clinton, America dealt with right-wing and left-wing tyrants alike that threatened regional order, whether Moammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Manuel Noriega, or the Taliban.

Obama may for practical and idealistic reasons believe that America should not or can no longer afford to play that pre-eminent role; he may even believe that such prominence was never really needed and was mostly counterproductive.

That diffidence often seems to be the message from Obama’s serial apologies, attacks on prior American foreign policy, and suggestions that tensions abroad are caused by misunderstandings — many of them our own — rather than irreconcilable differences in national character and objectives.

But he should at least admit that in such a vacuum of American power and influence, the natural order of things abroad would be chaos.

Let us hope that Obama learned that tragic fact when events heated up in 2009. Promising to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay; initially planning to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York; broadcasting supposed past American sins; issuing meaningless deadlines to Iran; and snubbing allies such as Britain, Israel, Poland, and the Czech Republic won’t win over enemies or ease world tensions.

Al-Qaeda claims credit for the Christmas Day attempt to blow up another American airliner — and promises more havoc to come. North Korea still demands bribe money to put aside its nukes. Russia is bragging about a new generation of weapons. Hugo Chávez keeps talking about becoming a regional bully with his new oil-supplied arsenal.

Implicit in all this braggadocio is a growing suspicion abroad, whether right or wrong, that a more naïve, more unsteady America is broke, tired, and unwilling to confront challenges as in the past.

Right now the world’s bad actors confidently see “hope” for a vast “change” in the old world order — but not the kind Obama once so boldly promised.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and editor, most recently, of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Japan; Politics/Elections; Russia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: agenda; bho44; china; deathofthewest; iran; obama; vdh; victordavishanson

1 posted on 02/04/2010 9:03:11 AM PST by neverdem
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To: Tolik

realist ping


2 posted on 02/04/2010 9:06:35 AM PST by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem

>>Obama may give soaring Wilsonian speeches abroad<<

I have no idea why even his critics keep repeating this meme. His speeches are pedestrian at best, full of low expectations and empty and vague promises. And if the TOTUS has even the slightest glitch, he goes into “um, er, uh” stammer mode (since he has nothing in his own head).

Even as a speech READER, he does no better than a High School drama student.


3 posted on 02/04/2010 9:08:34 AM PST by freedumb2003 (Communism comes to America: 1/20/2009. Keep your powder dry, folks. Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: freedumb2003

His speeches remind me of ( but are not as compelling as ) the spiels of a three-card-monty dealer. Churchill would roll over in his grave.


4 posted on 02/04/2010 9:21:48 AM PST by Inwoodian
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To: neverdem

This is a beautiful article. VDH is terrific at putting into words the real picture of what America’s place has been in the world of the Twentieth Century.


5 posted on 02/04/2010 9:24:24 AM PST by maica (Freedom consists not in doing what we like,but in having the right to do what we ought. John Paul II)
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To: neverdem; Mrs. B.S. Roberts

Long, long ago there was a period termed the “Peace of Rome”. It was after Rome had basically conquered the “known world” and no one was left to wage war.
To an extent the second half of the last century could be termed the “Peace of America”. While there were truly short violent “wars” between neighbors, the might of America was able to prevent another WORLD WIDE Conflagration.
Today’s world is more dangerous because there may not be a power able to keep the cork in the bottle. The American people may well have not been happy in their role as world policeman, but they and their government did recognize the need.
None would like to live in a neighborhood without police, but we are in a world that has such a lack. Oh Oh


6 posted on 02/04/2010 9:27:25 AM PST by CaptainAmiigaf (NY TIMES: "We print the news as it fits our views")
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To: freedumb2003

He used TOTUS at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning. He cannot even pause in between head swings to look straight ahead at the audience in the center of the room - or the tv audience.

GWB did not like using the teleprompter, but he could do it with more feeling and sincerity than the 0 can.


7 posted on 02/04/2010 9:30:29 AM PST by maica (Freedom consists not in doing what we like,but in having the right to do what we ought. John Paul II)
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To: neverdem

...”Obama may give soaring Wilsonian speeches abroad”...

Please, Dr. Hanson, stop repeating this patent falsehood. Barack Obama is not a great speaker. He apparently can read someone else’s words from a TelePrompter but on his feet without his crutch he makes GWB sound like Sir Laurence Olivier.

Furthermore, it’s to the point that the tone of his voice, the cadence of his speech, affect me like the sound of fingernails on a school chalkboard. It’s become Pavlovian - I get nauseated and angry with the fools of this country who did this to all of us.


8 posted on 02/04/2010 9:40:11 AM PST by astounded (The democrat party is a clear and present danger to the USA)
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To: neverdem

The more astute members of the European press are already beginning to ask these questions.

Obama is clearly a lame-duck, barely one year into his presidency. How is America (and the world for that matter) going to survive three years of a lame duck presidency?

Worse scenario is that populist outrage leads to a Ross Perot-like 3rd. party resurgence in 2012. This would most assuredly lead to Obama being re-elected on a 40-42% plurality, likely with a GOP Congress. How will America and the World function for four additional years like that?

How can we in the EU continue to live in our cushy little Socialist Nirvana if the US withdraws from it’s role as global policeman, and all of us have to [-gasp-] start picking-up the tab for our own defense?


9 posted on 02/04/2010 9:45:00 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: freedumb2003

I guess the critics feel compelled to have one “nice” thing to say about Barry Soetoro - but I agree with you that nothing could be further from the truth about his speech-giving talents. Barry gave one good speech in 2004 at the Dem National Convention (consider his competition there). That is it. All play acting back then - now we’re seeing the face behind the mask (for those who didn’t figure this out long ago).


10 posted on 02/04/2010 9:50:04 AM PST by Sioux-san
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To: freedumb2003

“Even as a speech READER, he does no better than a High School drama student.”

I’ve always thought the same. The endless accolades as to his alleged articulation have always seemed to be the cornerstone element in this “up is down” chant we’ve been subjected to for > 1 year. I’m always left with “what the hell are they thinking, are they listening to the same audio track as I am?”


11 posted on 02/04/2010 10:05:38 AM PST by Attention Surplus Disorder (Voters who thought their ship came in with 0bama are on their own Titanic.)
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To: freedumb2003

I think VDH is making a dig here. He doesn’t think much of Wilson.


12 posted on 02/04/2010 10:08:13 AM PST by karnage (worn arguments and old attitudes)
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To: astounded

Was Wilson a “great” speaker? Or did he soar on the wings of his own hot air?


13 posted on 02/04/2010 10:09:18 AM PST by karnage (worn arguments and old attitudes)
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To: Sioux-san

A regular contributor to a local radio talk show is a basically conservative professor of Rhetoric at a local university. He continues to insist that Obama is a great speech maker.

Besides not listening to Obama, I can no longer listen to this “expert”, but I did glean from his comments that good rhetoric includes, apparently, being able to present both/all sides of an issue.

Well, Obama has been good at saying nothing in such a convoluted way, that a large number of listeners believe that they are hearing a message that they want to hear.

If that is good “rhetoric”, then give me passionately bad rhetoric from a speaker who has a true message to give, not a three-card monte game of words.


14 posted on 02/04/2010 10:11:18 AM PST by maica (Freedom consists not in doing what we like,but in having the right to do what we ought. John Paul II)
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To: astounded

Furthermore, it’s to the point that the tone of his voice, the cadence of his speech, affect me like the sound of fingernails on a school chalkboard. It’s become Pavlovian - I get nauseated and angry with the fools of this country who did this to all of us.
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

You never get lonely though, do you?


15 posted on 02/04/2010 11:20:29 AM PST by RipSawyer (Trying to reason with a leftist is like trying to catch sunshine in a fish net at midnight.)
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To: maica

There’s the rub with people wanting an eloquent leader. Bedazzled by words and delivery that never match up with the actions. Thinking back to people like Winston Churchill, who cared deeply about what words he spoke, you knew that he believed what he said, and he followed through. No surprises. His words weren’t used to hide the truth about his values and character regarding how to lead the country. If Barry told people straight out what he truly believed about leading America, it would be so terrifying, he would never have been elected. There I go stating the obvious again.


16 posted on 02/04/2010 4:46:53 PM PST by Sioux-san
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To: All
Victor Davis Hanson:

Just a partial list: http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index:

Mr. President, Words Matter. Obama, the rhetorician, forgot that people might actually take seriously what he said
Our Obama Saga [Victor Davis Hanson dissects Obama, painfully, again]
The Obamarang. [Victor Davis Hanson dissects, deconstructs, ridicules and demolishes Zero’s lies]
Trashing the Job Makers. The Obama administration’s tax-talking frenzy has left business owners feeling uncertain
The Usual Straw Men. Obama’s half-hearted pivoting was quite transparent
As Predictable as Clockwork — the Obama three-step [Victor Davis Hanson continues to ridicule Zero]
Obama versus Obama (More classic VDH slapdown of the ONE)
Obama in Free Fall
Obama And Campaign Financing (Victor Davis Hanson On Obama's Hypocrisy Alert)
Post-election Thoughts (Liberals do not understand populist outrage. Bloodletting will Continue)
Our Philosopher-King Obama. He doesn’t mind pushing noble legislation that most people oppose
Why The Great And Growing Backlash? What Scott Brown’s election portends for the Obama agenda
"Let me be perfectly NOT clear" & "Make lots of MISTAKES about it" [Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's lies]
Our Sorta, Kinda War on Terror - President Obama has not signed up for a serious effort against radical Islam
Truths We Dare Not Speak. Five propositions that simply have become taboo
When Conservative Felonies Become Liberal Misdemeanors
2010: Our Year of Decision
Beating the Dead Terrorist Horse. September 11 taught us many lessons. To our peril, we have forgotten them
Bush Did It! And, Really, Bush Did It! And Bush Really Did It!
A Humpty-Dumpty View of the World
2009 Chickens and Their 2010 Roost
Where Did These Guys Come From? The Origins of Obamism
The War Against the Wannabe Rich. Why attack the productive classes who want to be rich?
The Long March From California to Copenhagen [Hanson on debate between capitalism and socialism]
The Palin Wonder
Why Are We Tiring of Obama?
Change, Weakness, Disaster, Obama: Answers from Victor Davis Hanson
If Iran Refuses To Cooperate, Block Its Ports
Resetting the Reset Button [Victor Davis Hanson dissects 0's pathetic diplomacy]
Riding the Back of the Tiger [Victor Davis Hanson on Obama not understanding What Causes Wars...]
What Bush Inherited, and What He Left Left Behind
Who Are ‘They’? To Obama, “they” are responsible for all our troubles. Problem is, “they” are most of us
Afghan Mythologies. We have everything we need to defeat the Taliban.
The Discreet Charm of the Left-wing Plutocracy
Truman and the Principles of U.S. Foreign Policy. Jimmy Carter rejected the postwar consensus. President Obama appears to be following a similar path
Dr. Barack and Mr. Obama - The backlash is sharp as voters learn that Obama is not the man they thought he was
Obama and "Redistributive Change". His real agenda
The War Against the Producers
President Palin’s First 100 Days. Imagine if Sarah Palin had Obama’s record
Thoughts About Depressed Americans
Our Battered American [gets angrier - Must Read Rant]
Just a partial list. Much more at the link:  http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index
17 posted on 02/05/2010 8:32:48 AM PST by Tolik
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To: neverdem; Lando Lincoln; SJackson; dennisw; kellynla; monkeyshine; Alouette; nopardons; ...

 

  Ping !

Let me know if you want in or out.

Links:   

FR Index of his articles:  http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index
NRO archive: http://author.nationalreview.com/?q=MjI1MQ==
Pajamasmedia:  http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/
His website: http://victorhanson.com/

18 posted on 02/05/2010 8:33:37 AM PST by Tolik
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To: neverdem

Countries act in their own self interest. When their national interests and the US national interests aline, they are our good friends. When national interests diverge, the country’s foreign policies diverge. Apparently, Obama has not figured this out - an the war came.


19 posted on 02/05/2010 8:45:05 AM PST by Citizen Tom Paine
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To: neverdem

Yet another good one from VDH.


20 posted on 02/05/2010 12:30:54 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: karnage
I think VDH is making a dig here. He doesn’t think much of Wilson.

I think you're right. His point would be that both Wilson and Obama had/have the knack of making grand idealistic statements that, in an ideal world, sound wonderful.

The problem with both men is the same as well: those grand statements don't account for how real people and real situations behave.

And, like Wilson, Obama seems unwilling and/or unable to put in the long-term effort even to approach the desired results.

For both men, it is enough to Proclaim -- it is for the lesser functionaries to put the Grand Statements into action.

21 posted on 02/05/2010 12:55:55 PM PST by r9etb
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To: r9etb
“I think VDH is making a dig here. He doesn’t think much of Wilson.”

I agree. I just read a biography of John Pershing. It showed just how out of touch with reality Woodrow Wilson was. He reminded me very much of Obama. He thought he was really, really, smart. But he simply looked at everything through an ideological filter that was very fuzzy and not aligned with reality. He did enormous damage to the United States.

22 posted on 02/05/2010 4:01:16 PM PST by marktwain
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To: neverdem
“soaring Wilsonian speeches”

First by Wilsonian, VDH means that the rhetoric is untethered to reality, idealistic and empty.

Second, actually Obama is a pretty good public speaker by most measures.

We may despise what the man says (or doesn't say), but his delivery is polished and fluent.

There is nothing wrong with his use of a teleprompter. He generally uses it very well.

He pauses for dramatic effect, varies his vocal inflection and gestures naturally.

He is with out a doubt the best public speaker we've had as president since Reagan.

Not that I can stand to listen for long without screaming about the appalling contradictions and manipulating devices.

For proof of my defense of the O man, imagine a Martian coming to earth to study public speakers. He gets to listen to Obama, Hillary, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. Based on fluency of delivery and occasional eloquence of expression, the Martian would pick Obama as the best.

Flame on.

23 posted on 02/05/2010 6:55:41 PM PST by garjog (Used to be liberals were just people to disagree with. Now they are a threat to our existence.)
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To: neverdem

We have to put up another two years of this garbage.


24 posted on 02/08/2010 3:27:09 AM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!=^..^==^..^==^..^==^..^==^..^=)
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To: garjog

I agree with your point (contrary to many freepers’) that Obama is a master of speech delivery. We are not talking about the substance here. But, on the matter of delivery: I am amazed that not Obama, not his handlers, reacted to the very specific critique of his style that is now, when the charms worn out a bit, draws fire not just from the opponents, but from sympathizers as well.

I mean the chin up in the air, looking left and right and never straight into your eyes delivery. I understand that there are suckers out there for above the crowd godlike figure of legend. But most of normal Americans regardless of their politics are irritated by “I am so far above you” stance. Obama’s team was very good during the election campaign, polling attitudes, finding just the right words to play different groups of people. And they are remarkably tone deaf on this “I am above you” irritant. I am not complaining really - it works in our favor.


25 posted on 02/08/2010 5:48:11 AM PST by Tolik
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To: Tolik

You say that the delivery is good, but the god like lack of direct eye contact is annoying. OK. I have never watched him in person. I wonder if he looks like this because of the camera? His followers used to faint in his presence. I kind of think that in person he must be magnetic.

Still generally he comes off well. Confident, fluent, dramatic in delivery. Substance is almost all rubbish. But, more meaning is non-verbal.

Not that there are other public speakers who are far better. Reagan was the best of all.


26 posted on 02/08/2010 9:17:53 PM PST by garjog (Used to be liberals were just people to disagree with. Now they are a threat to our existence.)
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To: garjog

Speaking about Reagan. I could not stand listen to Bush senior, Clinton, Hillary, W, Kerry, Gore, Obama. If I have to know what they said, I better read. But I love to listen to Reagan’s speeches. Sean and Mark were playing quite a lot of them on the radio. Here is the sad thing: his speeches going back to 1964 still sound current.


27 posted on 02/09/2010 4:34:44 AM PST by Tolik
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