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Belmont Club

Helplessly Hoping

November 29th, 2010 - 9:09 am

William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection argues that the latest Wikileak has shoved President Obama into Jimmy Carter territory. The leaks have shown him to be completely impotent, unable to even protect his own secrets or preserve his allies from embarrassment. The hard Left can push him around and take his money in a political dance apache. The Asia Times makes the same observation, but dryly notes that the loss of respect — AKA the failure of political deterrence — can cause much more serious international consequences. Barack Obama’s allies may already be starting to Finlandize themselves, convinced if proof were lacking, that Obama can’t even keep the deal he won’t honor secret. It is the political capstone of a meltdown. Obama’s credibility — and by extension America’s — has been downgraded to junk bond status.

Not only has the fact of the Wikileak publication in the New York Times publicly demonstrated Obama’s weakness, their contents paint the picture of almost pitiful helplessness. The magisterial rhetoric, the grand phrases from the jut-jawed deliveries at teleprompter translate to only one idea: kick the can down the road and please don’t hit me, mister. The leaked documents, if accurate, suggest  a North Korea and Iran openly testing the administration; China engaging in cyberwar against the West; American Islamic allies supporting terrorism while demanding protection and even aid. It shows a potential Iranian threat so regionally worrisome that Saudi Arabia exhorted him to “cut off the head of the snake.” It all adds up, according to the Asia Times, to extraordinary danger.

The worst-case scenario for the American administration would be if the violence in the Korean Peninsula escalated and it could not find an appropriate way to save face and de-escalate the confrontation. …

This still outlines only the start of the potential ripple effect. The situation of several other American allies is already so bad that they hardly even need a Korean paradigm to despair. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, for example, just went hat-in-hand to Tehran and started a diatribe against Israel, in an apparent sign that he is ready to toe the Iranian line if that is what it will take to ensure his survival.

In Iraq, the Western-backed Iyad Allawi was elbowed out of forming a government by his Iran-backed Shi’ite rivals despite winning the popular election earlier this year. In Afghanistan, an already-alienated President Hamid Karzai is looking on as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization effort to prop him up continues. … In Yemen, too, the government is getting desperate against al-Qaeda militants and Iran-backed Houtini rebels, and, according to some reports, is considering playing both sides.

All of these fears would once be dismissed as temporary challenges that would be eventually met by an America that won World War 2 and the Cold War. But what the financial meltdown and the execrable record of the Obama administration broadcast is that Obama’s USA is no longer what it used to be. It has beclowned itself to the point where it is unable to even prevent its secrets from being thrown in its face. The danger, argues the Asia Times, is that this contempt is cumulative; and that North Korea, Iran and China will either successfully challenge or miscalculate. Either way disaster impends.

It would be a sad epitaph for an president who once campaigned on a platform of restoring international America’s prestige. This is how it all ends: not with bang, but with a whimper and lots of potential bangs.

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