Seven years into the presidency that promised America a 21st century golden age, born of the Audacity of Hope and Change, audacity is not going America’s way. Just before the State of the Union address, Jan. 12, 2016, news breaks that Iran has seized and detained 10 American Navy sailors (though we are told they will be promptly returned).
This follows last week’s in-our-face announcement by North Korea that it had just tested a hydrogen bomb (though maybe it was merely an atomic bomb) — its third nuclear test on President Obama’s watch. That followed Iran’s brazen, sanctions-violating test launches in recent months of ballistic missiles, despite the “exclusively peaceful” refrain of the Iran nuclear deal so fervently sought and perversely praised by the Obama administration.
Add to this scene the December terrorist massacre in San Bernardino, in which an ISIS-inspired couple, an American-born jihadi and his Islamist immigrant bride, murdered 14 people and wounded 22 at an office Christmas party.
Here’s the real State of the Union, which is inextricably linked to the increasingly alarming state of the world: It is open season on America.
Not that America is by any stretch a lone target. Terrorist slaughter has become a staple of the world news. On the same Tuesday that just saw American sailors seized by Iran, the news was filled earlier in the day with accounts of a terrorist bombing in the historic center of Istanbul (which the State Department at least labeled “terrorist,” as opposed to “workplace violence”). ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban and a host of their kindred organizations are bedeviling the civilized world.
And then there are the sovereign-state behemoths: an expansionist China and an aggressive Russia, pushing the boundaries and arming for war — as the U.S. guts its military and turns over its resources to a domestic bureaucracy that is busy regulating America’s old free markets and resulting economic muscle into fading memory.
Obama’s presidency began in 2009 with apologies for America, a “reset” with Russia, a bow in Cairo and an outstretched hand to Iran — promising that this would boost America’s standing and security, and pave the way to more peaceful world. After seven years of American retreat, appeasement, vanishing red lines, diplomatic farce and an implausible nuclear deal with Iran, the clear message to every opportunist on the planet is: grab what you can.
The compounding disorder has already reached the stage at which events that once would have ranked as landmark crises are relegated in short order to old news, replaced in the headlines by the next debacle. Does anyone even remember that just two years ago, Crimea belonged not to Russia, but to Ukraine? Or, here’s a recent blip: On Jan. 8 The Wall Street Journal broke the news that a Hellfire missile being shipped by the U.S. for a NATO training exercise in 2014 somehow ended up in Cuba — which, despite Obama’s embrace of the Castros since Dec. 2014, has refused to give it back.
To date, the the compounding threats have been playing out largely — though by no means exclusively — beyond America’s shores. That won’t last, as San Bernardino and a growing roster of attacks, plots and threats keep serving notice. With policies that endanger America’s allies abroad, while lining up the likes of Russia, Iran and Cuba as erstwhile partners in forging a new world order, the condition of America is: increasingly under threat. Does Iran fear any serious penalty for seizing 10 American sailors? Anyplace except the marbled corridors of Washington, the question answers itself.