I did not glean that Russia likes us the more we sign one-sided arms control pacts; abandon the concerns of the Poles, Czechs, Georgians, etc., and assume that Iran will become a nuclear power with Russian help. In other words, if I were a foreign opportunistic player, and I learned that the U.S. was borrowing $2 trillion a year to lavish more entitlements on its citizenry while emphasizing that between 2001-9 the U.S. caused most global tension and was now sorry for it, and that outreach, bowing, apologizing, and praise of foreign cultures were now the norm, then I might, if were one of the following, do the following:
Iran: I would step up enrichment and figure there was an open road to nukes at least until 2012. Meanwhile I would round up all the dissidents I could and do what I must without worry of foreign opinion. I would occasionally threaten Israel to see what, if anything, the U.S. would say.
Israel: I would be very worried.
Mexico: I would damn the United States as much as possible, encourage as much illegal immigration as possible, and in general do what it takes to enlist Obama in ensuring the continuance of $30-50 billion in remittances and the steady export of 500,000 impoverished, potential dissidents per year.
North Korea: I would ratchet up tension, sink a South Korean ship, and try to create a state of de facto war — in order to receive several billion per year to “stand down.” And, of course, praise Obama as much as possible.
Russia: Again, I would praise Obama to the skies, and try to get Iran into the nuclear club as quickly as possible, press on borders of the former Soviet republics, and sign as many agreements I could with the Obama administration.
Syria: I would welcome outreach from Obama, praise his godhead, and sell missiles to terrorists like Hezbollah, encourage terrorists in Iraq, get back into Lebanon, and start pressing Israel as never before.
Obama reminds me of my own twenties when I was both ignorant and arrogant in my self-absorption: Wondering why a particular ag supply company would not put all the bags on the pallet that I paid for, confused over why the guy I hired to level a field left his CAT meter on his idling carry-all while he visited his girlfriend and billed me for the “hours,” disheartened that workers would habitually write “320 tablas” on their first grape tray, when in fact I counted only 231 when I walked down their rows, and curious why a big ag corporation would spray “fix” on their table grapes that made them bigger and prettier than mine, even though the chemical was long banned. Unfortunately, appeals to reason were, to quote Mark Knopfler, “all for nothing.”
Such a brutal world! So far different from what I saw in the polite scraps over graduate travel money, and the seminar showdowns over whether the particle de was always or just sometimes postpositive.
I think we will survive, barely, as Obama learns each day that China, Iran, Russia, Syria, and Turkey do not behave like professors at Columbia, the law school dean at Harvard, or the community activist board in Chicago.
Note the adverb “barely.”