Dissecting Obama


Editors’ note: This is a transcript of a speech delivered by Victor Davis Hanson at the recent David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Santa Barbara Retreat. It was given without a prepared text. To watch the video of the speech, click here.

Victor Hanson:  As for that reference in the introduction to being a student of Greek and Latin: I would think about being a classicist a lot when I came home to farm at 26.  I just got my Ph.D., and my father and a brother (who was really a cynic) talked at length. And at one point, I said, “Well, I passed my exam; my thesis is finished.”

And one said, “What can you do with it?”  And I replied, “I think I can translate the San Francisco Chronicle into Greek now.”  And one replied — he was quoting, I think Johnson or someone, “You know, that’s sort of like a dog that can walk on two legs; it’s impressive, but what’s the use?”  So that’s that—I have an ambiguous relationship with classics.

This afternoon, I thought I would just walk through for 25, 30 minutes, very informally, the highlights of the Obama foreign policy— and then open it up for questions.  And one has to be very careful in criticism, because I think with Obama too often critique becomes an emotional response in that we sometimes lose concentration of the nature of the transformation that he’s actually doing.  And I know no one wishes to fall into that fallacy of Pavlovian opposition.   Sometimes it’s health care “reform” or the apology tour can become so aggravating that one doesn’t look at each issue empirically. That is always a danger, because there really is something called Obama derangement syndrome, and I would not wish to suffer from it.  We would not wish want to become the mirror-image of the Bush haters.

Anyway, what is the general philosophy that guides this President abroad?   I think there are four or five elements, and I’d like to just go briefly through them and then apply them to specific policies and countries—and see if we can spot their presence.  One, of course, is that he’s a post-modern President.  That’s a fancy word for saying a culture that arose after the modern period, the so-called the post- modern period.  And within it is a belief system that incorporates things like utopian pacifism.  He seems to believe that as a child of the Enlightenment that if very brilliant, smart, educated, technocratic people get together, they can adjudicate differences rationally and without rancor, and that we can leave our Neanderthal past of emotions behind—especially to the degree that we are led and enthused by people like himself that were properly educated, properly cool, properly charismatic with the less fortunate who sometimes cause trouble and are misunderstood.

Mr. Obama believes in a sort of moral equivalency; that is, morality cynically is to be adjudicated only by those who have power.  And just as there’s sort of a Mason-Dixon Line economically in the United States between those of, say, 200,000 in income and above and those below (and above at that divide, you become “them”), so too that applies to the world at large.  The United States is the $200,000 income winner, and all the other countries are, as is true in the U.S., in need of Obama’s sympathy and redistributive attention.  So we have an obligation to help the other countries because somehow we became wealthy at their expense.

And, of course, he’s a multiculturalist.  All of Europe, we in America, we are all burdened with an imperialistic, colonial past; in contrast, people of color, the downtrodden, the other are in need of special consideration by virtue of their poverty or lack of access to global power.  (Compare our respective attention toward a  Syria and Israel, and one learns that consensual government and freedom does not enter into the equation.) That’s part of his ideological background that he brings into his foreign policy.

Second, Obama does seem to like George Bush.  He believes that most problems abroad did not pre-date George Bush, and they didn’t post- date pre-George Bush—instead, they were exclusive to George Bush.  And that’s an important distinction because Obama will sometimes adopt Bush’s anti-terrorism policies, but he won’t dare say that he’s doing that,  because to do so would, of course, give some credit to George Bush.  That ambiguity makes clear a lot of things that seem contradictory, as we’ll get to in a minute.

Yet a third element in his foreign policy is omnipotent debt.  If you are going to borrow in the first 14 months three trillion dollars, and increase the aggregate US debt burden from 11 to 14 trillion dollars, and if you submit a long-term budget process that’s going to get us to 20 trillion in eight years, then you’re going to have less options abroad, in reference to defense, a sort of the weakening the sinews of war as Cicero talked about in the relationship of Roman preparedness to finance.

We simply are not going to have the capital to fund present defense and aid outlays, and people are already anticipating that overseas.  Obama is going to have to make cuts and we know where he won’t make cuts and where he will—another air squadron, yes to cuts; another health care addendum, no. China pays attention more than we do to that reality.

And then the fourth element in his foreign policy;  it’s sort of made up as he goes along, because, after all, if we had this present discussion in 2002, nobody in this room would know who Barack Obama is.  So he’s a late arriving phenomenon without a lot of foreign policy experience.  Indeed, we almost know nothing about his past.  We know nothing about his education at Columbia.  We don’t really know what he did at Harvard.  We don’t know much about him at all in the Senate. Much of what he promised in the campaign simply did not happen. In reference to his past intimacy with a Bill Ayers or Rev. Wright, he simply was not wholly truthful.

Well, let’s look at how these principles are presently guiding the U.S.  We had a very stimulating talk last night by Senator Kyl concerning Obama’s ideas about nuclear weapons.  None of us—in regard to Obama’s non-proliferation summit—none of us lose any sleep tonight that France or England is a nuclear power.  We understand that it’s not nuclear weapons, per se, but who owns them that is the problem.

Nobody loses sleep that Israel is going to preempt and nuke Pakistan. To the degree that a country is invested in the world, even an autocratic China (they don’t necessarily have to be consensual), is not an imminent nuclear threat.

There were two nuclear threats in the world when that summit took place, and they were North Korea and soon to be Iraq—and they were not there.  It reminds me of the old adage about bureaucrats; they always go after the misdemeanor of the law-abiding citizen, and neglect the felonies of the criminal, because the latter takes moral courage and effort, and the former is easy and trivial. So you bring all these leaders together to D.C. that aren’t threats, and you ignore for the most part the two things that would make you either not liked in the world or require a bad/worse choice scenario; that is, confronting Iran or North Korea.

The second thing to remember about nuclear weapons is that it’s always nice to say that we should have a world without nuclear weapons.  Yet more people have been killed by machetes since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  We lost a million people in Rwanda.  Did we want to outlaw machetes?  If people wish to kill on a mass scale, there is always a mechanism to do it.  Nuclear weapons are one, one especially scary tool, but not the only one So how have we dealt with dangerous, brave new weapons in the history of civilization? The Greeks were horrified by missile weapons.  Strabo records an inscription to the effect, “Thou shalt not use missile weapons.”  Spartans were horrified by artillery.  Agisilaos, the King of Sparta, wept when he saw artillery.  He said in effect, “Manhood is gone.”

I could say something of the same thing about arquebuses, fiery weapons, poison gas—all of them.  Each time we have a frightening new weapon, there has been a righteous international effort to outlaw them.  Even poison gas was not outlawed in World War II, contrary to what we think; it lack of use on the battlefield was due only to deterrence.  In other words, all global prohibitions have all failed— not surprising without a global enforcer of utopian edicts.

Well then, what stops a dangerous new weapon from killing large numbers of people?  Two things: one is deterrence: one side usually— hopefully, a constitutional state or consensual society—has a greater stock of dangerous weapons and tells a would-be adventurous bad actor, “don’t do it or else!”  That’s worked pretty well in the post- Hiroshima age.  Or they’ve counted on technology for a defensive response—bigger walls, thicker armor, anti-missiles defense.  There’s no reason—given that human nature is constant throughout the ages— that won’t be true with nuclear weapons. We have both deterred their use and are working on counter-weapons, antiballistic missile systems to encounter a bad actor’s arsenal who might use them.

Obama seems rather clueless to that, especially the truism that countries that wouldn’t use a bomb would probably abide by an agreement and countries who would use it, would not.

If we look at terrorism, or I should say the War on Terrorism, it’s very interesting Obama is mimicking George Bush.  If we went back to Obama-2002 as a legislator, as a senator in 2006 and from 2007 onward, as a candidate, I could give you the locale and the date in which he serially did the following:  he criticized the Patriotic Act; he criticized tribunals; he criticized renditions; he criticized predator drone attacks; he criticized Iraq; he criticized the war in Afghanistan; he criticized Guantanamo Bay, and on and on.

But that outrage was all predicated on just two considerations — excuse me, I think three truths.  One, by 2006, these critiques resonated with the American people, and they were very, very important to waging a winning campaign, and, therefore, Obama would wholeheartedly embrace them.  Two, Obama sensed that the Bush protocols were of some utility to keep us safe (we hadn’t been attacked since 2001).  And, three he was utterly cynical in that he knew that both he and others on the Left had no real intrinsic objections about any of these protocols— other than the fact that they were connected with George Bush.

If you doubt such cynicism on my part, look what happened after January 20th, 2009.  Obama embraced almost every single protocol.  The Bush-Petraeus Plan now is in operation in Iraq.  He escalated in Afghanistan.  He has allowed as many renditions as Bush did.  He’s accepted the principle of tribunals.  Guantanamo is “virtually” closed.  In other words, it’s not closed, it’s just “virtually” closed.  There have been more predator assassinations in Afghanistan in one year than Bush approved in eight.  Think of that strange logic.  We’re going to beat our breast over three detained terrorists— mass murderers—because they were waterboarded; but we’re going to blow up a suspected terrorist, his wife, children, grandparents, and everybody around him as collateral damage—and that is defensible.

In other words, Barack Obama knew, A, that when he became President, these were necessary protocols that had kept us safe, and, B, that as soon as he became the author and his signature was upon them, Cindy Sheehan would be a distant memory, Michael Moore would be quite forgotten.  There would be no more Hollywood movies like Rendition.  There would be no films like Redacted.  There would be no more Toronto

Film Festival award-winning docu-dramas about killing a President.  Alfred Knopf would not publish a novel about how to kill the President.  All that would vanish.  And that’s pretty much where we are on the War on Terror.  It was quite brilliant in some sense, this cynical appraisal that the outraged Left was merely partisan not principled.

If we were to look at Iran, there was always only really one nonviolent way to stop Iran from becoming nuclear.  The only real way to do it without great tumult was to encourage the grassroots demonstrations of last spring and summer that might have led to some type of real rebellion against the Republican Guard.  Obama did not do that; he voted “present”.  Why?  Because such an idea of supporting grassroots, egalitarian, consensual reform perhaps is connected in his mind with an imposition of democracy in the Middle East, the so-called despised neo-con view: who are we, after all, as good multiculturalists, good moral equivalency proponents, to suggest that we know that our democracy, that Greek-based, Western word, would be any better or any worse than any other indigenous form of governance?  So suddenly when the president sees people embracing Western democracy in an almost pro-American fashion, it causes Obama to pause.

Any country that was suspicious of America, and did not like the United States during the era of Bush, was apparently right, and anyone that did, was suspect.  So Colombia, Israel, Britain—something’s wrong with those nations. Unlike Obama himself, they liked the United States under George Bush.   Iranians demonstrating are somewhat suspicious.

So we voted “present” on the demonstrations, as Obama is well equipped to deal with an anti-American strongman, but not so with pro-American, pro-Democratic reformers.

Remember in the Al Arabiya interview, the first one he gave, Obama said in effect that a charismatic person of nontraditional ancestry like himself—and he mentioned his middle name, Hussein—something had been absolutely taboo during the campaign—would resonate with people in the Middle East.  In his way of thinking, only a non-traditional, charismatic, rhetorician of African-American ancestry could deal with a revolutionary figure like an Ahmadinejad .So there was no utility, no singularity in supporting pro-American reformers; anyone could do that. But a Chavez? An Assad? Only an Obama is up to the task.

And again, Obama didn’t understand the danger of Iran.  (When you see administration flaks writing articles suggesting that we can deter Iran, you know that it’s pretty much a done deal that Iran is going to become nuclear.)  Yet the problem isn’t whether we can deter them or not (you can argue about whether the theocrats really want to find the missing imam and have paradise and thus are not subject to the laws of deterrence.)

No, the problem is that if they are nuclear, they will cause a collective, continual, non-stop sense of dread in Israel.  People will never know whether they can be deterred or not.  They’ll never know from one day to another what a theocrat will say. All that will have a cumulative effect, as we heard last night, quite presciently by the Senator—that more people will want to emigrate out of Israel, that more people live tense and unhappy lives.  It’s sort of putting a gun to somebody’s head, and saying, “I’m going to turn the six-bullet chamber and see whether the one bullet fires—maybe or maybe not.  It’s a form of nuclear Russian roulette, and it will have an emotional toll on Israel.  Obama doesn’t seem to get that.

Secondly, he doesn’t understand the historical role of the United States toward Israel.  The rules of the game were pretty much the same for the last 40 to 50 years, at least since the 1967 war.  The Arab world had oil.  The Arab world embraced terrorism.  The Arab world had numbers.  Therefore, most countries abroad made the necessary calculations and favored Israel’s opponents.  That included everybody from France to Germany to Turkey to the entire Middle East to the Russians.

The United States alone—being an exceptionally moral place— felt, given the Holocaust and given the propensities of some nations in the world, and given the ethnic cleansing of the Jewish community after the 1967 war from the major Arab capitals, that there was no one else to protect this tiny, quite special country.    Therefore, we, alone, will do something that, in terms of realpolik may or may not be in our national interests, but it surely reflects our values.  And, therefore, we won’t nominate partisans like Charles Freeman or Samantha Power to posts of key importance in the Middle East.  We don’t quibble over settlements in Jerusalem, since we know that in any two-state solution, that Arabs will be free to live in Israel while any Israeli who wants to become a citizen of Palestine and reside in the West Bank’s may have to have his head examined, because he’ll reside in mortal danger.

In short, an asymmetrical situation—we of good sense and good will, we all knew that.  Mr. Obama either does not know that or does not care, or believes there is a moral equivalence between a PA or Hamas strongman and an elected Israeli government.

So we witness the first time, I think since Harry Truman’s initial support, that we have an Administration that not only doesn’t appreciate the role of Israel, but pretty much has leaned toward its opponents.  And so far this is all academic.  We can quibble about settlements, or, who was snubbed today or that Biden blew his temper. All that is trivial and doesn’t matter, because none of these fissures will become apparent until the next war takes place.

But, but, when the next war takes place, watch out—and there will be another war. There’s always a war more likely when the United States distances itself a bit from Israel because it gives the green light to bad actors, whether they’re in Lebanon or Syria or on the West Bank or in the Arab world in general.  So, there will be another war, and then we will see Obama’s true attitude when questions come up like, “Are you going to immediately supply F16 replacement parts or delay a bit?”  “Are you going to give bunker busters now or next year?”  Are you going to supply patriot missile battery replacements or hold out for a concession?”  And that will be the make-or-break moment.  There will be 1973 hysterics over whether we should/should not supply quickly/slowly/not at all key points to an Israel at war.

Let us turn to the larger powers of the world, especially three—India, China, and Russia.  These same four or five principles in his foreign policy stand out once again.  Take India, for example. It saw over 60 percent of Indians express a positive view of the United States during the Bush Administration, which, after all, was supportive of free trade; India expanded its exports.  It did have a colonial past, but it’s a confident nation that wishes to take on anyone in a global free market.  It’s an English-speaking, pro-American ally—and therefore, it’s sort of now suspect, especially due to its rivalry with Islamic Pakistan.  So if you look at Indian-U.S. relations, they’re not as good as they were, as if we are troubled that Bush was once popular there.

In opposition to that, look at Russia.  Anybody in this room senses that it still has a 19th-Century sense of self, albeit empowered by oil. If it is not to recapture, at least it seeks to reestablish, a sphere of influence in the former Soviet Republics and perhaps even in Eastern Europe.

Again, Obama’s way of thinking seems to be that since Russia was recently anti-American, and anti-Bush, therefore, it’s somebody to reach out to, given their shared, mutual suspicion of the last eight Bush years. So we’re reaching out; that means that if you were in the Ukraine or if you’re in Georgia or if you’re in Poland or Czechoslovakia, you are a de facto neutral now.  We’re not interested in you as much as we are with the Russians. Please do not find yourself in a crisis, because we will not adjudicate it on the basis of shared democratic values, but rather realpolitik reach-out to Russia.

And then there is China, and here’s where we grasp the importance of the spiraling debt.  We don’t really know what Obama feels about pressuring China on Tibet or human rights.  On the one hand, they pose still a supposedly revolutionary regime.  Anita Dunn, after all, said a hero of hers was Mao.

But the Dali Lama, human rights, Tibet—all these questions play second fiddle to the one sword over our heads, and that’s U.S. debt.  When China holds over a trillion dollars of US bank notes, and, more importantly, anticipates very quickly to own another trillion, then America really has lost a lot of leverage or foreign policy options with China. I think it’s very telling that this administration is essentially saying to the Chinese, “I know that 400 million Chinese, of a billion person population, have no access at all to health care, and have never gone to a Westernized doctor, but we would still like to borrow another trillion dollars from you so we can have a socialized medical system for our own.”  That’s an untenable foreign policy—asking a rival to finance what we demand for ourselves, and what they would not consider for their own.

Among the first things the Chinese inquired about on their recent visit to Washington was about healthcare, because they’re starting to see that their citizens are supposed to work 12 hours a day and accumulate cash to lend us at low interest and to expand the entitlements that they themselves don’t have and have no plan on extending for their own population.  Again, I cannot stress enough that’s untenable.

If we look at Europe, it’s very fascinating what’s happened—summed up by “Be careful what you wish for.”  We all know that the Europeans, especially the proverbial European Street, are still in love with Obama, especially his efforts to adopt a European paradigm.  At least, they felt that he is now a partner in statism, and they the model.  He has become a Christian Democrat or a socialist Democrat, so all is wonderful.

Not quite. Note that the European leadership itself is very skeptical.  Karen mentioned that we went on a trip two years ago, and had a reception at a garden residence  in Versailles. It was there a French officer said to me, “Hey, everybody loves Obama, no problem.  But remember, we’re the Obama; there’s not room for two of us!”  And what he meant by that was that European leaders had understood the rules of the game, and they were essentially and cynically that the United States runs a raucous, wide-open, free-spending, capitalist, free-trading economy and that sucks in European goods, is very innovative, remains the fountainhead for western technology and innovation, western finance, and is also the key to the trans-Atlantic alliance. It’s really an American-dominated alliance, and we subsidize the defense of Europe.  And then in exchange for that somewhat embarrassing situation, out of envy the Europeans ankle-bite us in Der Spiegel or in Le Monde.

So this same French general went on to the effect, “Don’t you guys understand the relationship?  You’re supposed to take care of Iran, and we’re supposed to make fun of you the next day in Le Monde, and everybody’s happy.  And then we don’t get nuked.  That’s the story.  Does this Obama understand that?”  And this was before Obama was elected.

What we see now is that Obama didn’t understand that relationship, and the Europeans are getting their worst nightmarish dream come true. In other words, we’re going to have more of a static, controlled-economy that will not buy as much European goods; it will start to entertain something like the  state-aided Toyota, Citroen, or Mercedes-like auto industries—part government/part state—that will try to demonize companies like a rival Toyota.  We in America at last will start acting like European and Japanese state-subsidized partnerships between government and industry, and that’s not in the European’s interest.

We will also start, as these deficits start to climb, we will also start to question, why in the world, as true-blue statists and socialists, do we embrace so much military expenditure protecting Europe. That inevitably will come up.  As a corollary there is no more special trans-Atlantic relationship in general as it pertains to Britain.  A member of the Obama team put it something like this, “We don’t think there’s anything special in it.”  And that can be seen from the trivial—to the snubbing of Mr. Brown or sending back the bust of Churchill—to the profound.

But the Europeans really did get what they wanted, and they’ve now got somebody who does not believe that the Western tradition, in general, and the European role in it, in particular, are anything exceptional, other than we both have a questionable past plagued by racism and colonialism.  And so I think that we are going to have real divides between Europe and ourselves.

We could go on and on and on like this in tracing how the assumptions of the last thirty years in the academia and on the left have now been reified in the foreign policy of President Obama.  But let me just finish by suggesting that we’ve been here before.  I’ve been reading a great deal again about the administration of Jimmy Carter.  And what I was struck was this: while everybody tends to make fun of Jimmy Carter’s outreach and therapeutic foreign policy, that was not so, at least in the beginning. Go back and read what people were saying, not in 1979, but during 1977 and ’78.  Many were infatuated with Jimmy Carter.  His polls on foreign policy were running 55 to 60 in the positive percentiles.  He gave a heralded Notre Dame speech about the no “inordinate fear” of Communism.  He had warned the Argentines about human rights.  He had shown distance from the Shah.  I think it was UN Ambassador Andrew Young had said flattering things about Khomeini.  After Nixon, all that meant we were to be liked again abroad.

Indeed, everybody, except our enemies,  thought that the world was coming together and that there was no downside from all this ecumenicalism.   There wasn’t—at least for a while.

But what we didn’t realize in 1977 and 1978, was that the bad actors in the world were watching very carefully, and in effect saying, “Who is going to test this utopian fool first?”  Then suddenly, 1979 came along, and the Chinese decided they were just going to invade Vietnam and punish them as they saw fit.  And then we saw that the Russians had no fear of backing insurrections throughout Central America.  And then we saw how brashly they invaded Afghanistan.  And then we saw there was something called Radical Islam.  And then we saw that there was going to be hostages taken in Teheran, and we couldn’t really do something about this terrible year 1979— other than ration gasoline and boycott the Olympics.  And within about six to seven months, the entire world became chaotic.

I think that’s what the lesson is.  Most adventurers in the world today are in a holding pattern.  They’re watching very carefully the US policy on nuclear weapons, disarmament, our attitudes toward traditional alliances like NATO, our attitude toward Venezuela vs. Colombia, our attitudes toward domestic terrorist attempts by radical Islamists.  What will we do about the South Koreans’ worries? The changing scenarios that we see with Japan? And they’re coming to the conclusion that if one were a North Korea or a  China, vis-à-vis, Taiwan, or a Russia, vis-à-vis, the Ukraine, or you’re Mr. Chavez, vis-à-vis, Colombia, or you’re Turkey, vis-a-via, Greece and Cypress—in any of these traditional hotspots—gone now is the old fear that George Bush or his predecessors might be a little crazy and you never knew what they were going to do—except that aggression might earn you a firm and potentially catastrophic response.

And so we’re in a waiting game, for we have sowed a very dangerous crop, and now we’re waiting for a bitter harvest, in a fashion like the year 1979. I fear it is going to just take one gambler to call Mr. Obama’s bluff and in essence, call our hand, and say what you’re going to do about it?  And that choice will determine whether that’s the end of such a dangerous gambit or an invitation to many, many more.

Thank you very much.  I think if anybody has a question or two, I’ll be happy to answer them.

Audience Member: We have an alliance with non-Communist China. We are supposed to go to war with them and defend them if mainland China attacks them.  What do you think Obama will do in the case there is an attack by China?  Do you think we should get out of that alliance we have with Taiwan?  What is your advice on that?

Victor Hanson:  I think Obama would say to China, “this doesn’t make sense.”  Taiwan is heavily invested in China.  It’s counterproductive in theory.  And that argument is absolutely sound; it would make no sense, such aggression.  But it would be the same argument once made to Hitler of “you shouldn’t go into Poland.  There’s no need to go into Poland.  You have plenty of lebensraum.”  Look at, today— Germany’s got a larger population, and smaller territory.  They didn’t need then—and they do not need now, living room—as if reason had anything to do with September 1939.

But in Obama’s way of thinking, states go to war for logical purposes, they don’t go to war for the irrational, for age-old honor and fear and sense of stature and pride. Yet so often that’s what they actually do go to war for.  So in his rational world view, there’s no mechanism to account for the irrational other than the appeal to soaring rhetoric and legal logic.  So I think he would say to China, “This absolutely doesn’t make sense.”  And they would say, “Maybe it doesn’t, but we’re going to do it anyway for the pleasure of it, if we please.”

And I don’t think we have prepared the American people to say, “Are you willing to lose an  American life to protect Taiwan,” because, to do that, Obama would have to make this argument: if you do not support Taiwan, then you probably won’t support the Philippines, and you probably won’t support South Korea, and you probably won’t support Japan.  And what’s going to happen is that you’re going to turn a Democratic and capitalist sphere of prosperity and freedom into a Communist China sphere of influence.  And that is just one scenario.

The other is that Japan— which, if we don’t ensure deterrence, I predict could make 4,000 nukes tomorrow and they would work like Hondas, they would not work like North Korea’s. So you would have a nuclear Japan, a nuclear Taiwan, and a nuclear South Korea.  That could be good or bad, but that’s what you would have—a far more volatile region.

So every one of those places has enormous symbolic importance.  I think what Bush did was let people know not to do rash things, because we’re unpredictable and we might do something harsh if you try something stupid.  Obama in essence signals in advance, “The world is a logical place, we’re rational fellows, I’m going to talk to you the way I did my Harvard Law dean.”  And, unfortunately, so many people in the world that cause trouble simply think with their reptilian brains.  They don’t have a therapeutic view of the world or Obama’s refined sense of self.

Manny Klausner: When you cataloged a lot of the things that Obama has done since he came in and when you focused on his antipathy to Bush, but his pursuit of Bush policies. . . .

Victor Hanson:  Yes.

Manny Klausner: I’d like to ask if you could amplify a little bit your thoughts as to whether Obama is cynical, rather he’s ruthlessly devious and manipulative, how much does he exemplify of the Salinski approach to using the words of the other side that you don’t believe in, but you just try to seduce people or mislead them, and you lie through your teeth because the end justifies the means?

Victor Hanson:  I think he’s mostly cynical in terms of the War Against Terror.  I think he understood once he was President, at least, or maybe even in the campaign when he was briefed, that the reasons that we had not been attacked from September 11th onward, were  due to things like tribunals and renditions and predators and  elements of the Patriot Act. We inflicted a crushing defeat on Al Qaeda in Anbar Province.  We killed, off the record the military will tell you, we killed thousands of people in Iraq who had bad intent, not just in Iraq, but elsewhere.

So this policy of anti-terrorism, however it was character by the left, was actually working as we see.  So Obama came into office and informed people came to him and said, “You know what?  These predators are killing a lot of suspects who need to be killed.  And, you know what?  I don’t know what to do with Guantanamo.  Where are we going to put these guys?  All the people overseas who want it closed don’t want to take their own citizens.  They’re telling us off the record they don’t want them.  And you know what?  We’re doing renditions all over the world.  And you know what?  This Petraeus-Bush Plan in Iraq seems to be working.  There was almost nobody killed in December.  Can you imagine that?  There was lots of Americans killed in Chicago, but almost no Americans in Iraq.”

And so they came to him, and Obama said, no problem, that he would adjust the narrative.  I’m not saying he said this.  But he was thinking, no problem, I didn’t really mean all this stump shrillness anyway.  All I have to do is just adopt these protocols—never give anybody credit who created them, and then in some cases “virtually” close things.  I’ll virtually close Guantanamo.  I’ll virtually try KSM in New York.  And I will change the relevant names to overseas contingency operations against man-made disasters, and I’ll outlaw the term Islamic extremism.  And, he thought, the left is so bankrupt that they won’t say a thing.  And Hollywood will never make another Rendition or Redacted or Rendition. And Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan will be ancient history. And they will not dare criticize me for doing what Bush did because they don’t want to lose universal healthcare, amnesty, or cap and trade or question my godhead. So he sized up the left perfectly.  He absolutely did.  I think that’s cynical.  Yet in some sense I’m glad he did.

And by the way, there’s a corollary for Republicans and conservatives— they’re bewildered.  They don’t know on the one hand, whether to get angry at him because he tarred and feathered George Bush on really key issues of national security.  We had over 200,000 people fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, while that opportunist ran around the country declaring the surge was lost.  He droned on before Petraeus in the hearings.  He in essence made fun of all these things.  But on the other hand, he now as president has kept them and they’re working. That’s amazing.

So conservatives are really in a quandary.  I think that was cynical.

Audience Member: Do you foresee any consequences to Obama announcing that he will not use nuclear weapons even if we’re attacked with chemical and biological weapons?

Victor Hanson:  Yes, I think it’s unfortunate. And what I mean by that is, if I could reduce or distill the logic to, say an Iran, it seems to be something like: ‘there’s no need to get a nuclear weapon.  Even if you let some anthrax off or use nerve gas agents in an attack, we’re still not going to nuke you.  So why would you want a nuclear weapon?’

I think the problem with that logic is that if you start saying all that in advance when Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, Iran, rather than thinking, “Wow, these are really magnanimous people that are trying to reach out to us”, their attitude instead will probably be, “If he’s going to reach out and give us all this assurance before we have a nuclear weapon, just think what he’ll do after we have one.”

And that’s the danger.

So some of this is symbolic, rather than changing radically US policy.  But symbolic gestures are what can cause war so often.  Any other questions?

Audience Member: Towards the end of your talk, you were mentioning how we’d been here before and you were talking about Jimmy Carter.  And I was just wondering, do you think it’s the same?  Because it seems to me it’s much worse this time, you know.

Victor Hanson:  The same what?

Audience Member:  Well, do you think we’re facing the same level of danger or chaos in the world?  It seems like it’s much worse this time than what happened when Jimmy Carter let everything fall apart.

Victor Hanson:  Well, for all the talk about the end of the Cold War, what was dangerous about Jimmy Carter was he failed to grasp the rise of Radical Islam.  And you can talk about Lebanon.  You can talk about the East Africa bombings.  You can talk about the USS Cole, the first World Trade Center.  But all of those incidents in a strange sense go back to one incident.  Radical Islam came on the scene with the storming of the US Embassy and the rise of Khomeinism.

Had Jimmy Carter said privately to the Khomeini regime, “You’re going to release the hostages, and if you don’t do it, you’re not going to have a military, an Air Force, a Navy, or the Republican Guard in the next 15 days,” then I think the regime would have balked. We could have taken out their entire air force in a matter of hours in 1979.

But even if such defiance did not save the hostages (and I think it would have earned their release), it would have saved more lives than were lost in the subsequent three decades.  So most of our problems with Radical Islam came from the bad example of the Iranian hostage crisis—as the hostage-taker Mr. Ahmadinejad knew from the start.

There were other things that were stupid, the Iran Contra and all that.  But, nevertheless, that was a key moment.

And if you look Russia—Russia’s not supposedly Soviet-like in intent anymore—but if you look again, it still has nuclear weapons, it still has territorial ambitions, it still frightens Eastern Europe.  And you add China into the equation with all its capital and financial clout, and I think the world is just as dangerous as it was in 1979, if not more so, given U.S debt and tentativeness.

And there’s one other thing—I am not a big fan of Jimmy Carter, in fact, I think he perhaps proved to be one of the worst of American Presidents that we’ve ever had.  But, compared to Barack Obama, he came into office with executive experience.  He was in the Navy.  He was a one-term governor of Georgia.  Mr. Obama has no similar executive experience whatsoever.  We knew a little bit about Carter. We know in comparison nothing about Barack Obama.  It’s one of the most stealthy Presidencies I’ve ever seen.

If we asked John McCain, during the campaign, for information, he released his entire US Naval Academy transcript.  He released thousands of pages of his medical records, and on and on.  We got one paragraph of summation of the Obama medical records.  We got no transcript from Occidental, none from Columbia.  We don’t know anything about his undergraduate record.  He could be much smarter or much slower than we suspect, but we wouldn’t know and we’re not going to know.  We’re never going to know.  We do know that with Mr. Ayers and Rev. Wright what we don’t know was far greater than what we did know. Yes?

Audience Member:  Victor, I’m ashamed to say this.  But you write a lot faster than I read, and I haven’t, most especially, read the piece that Karen mentioned that might touch on this.  But one of the things you didn’t address, and I would really invite you to explore with us is one aspect of the threats that you have very well described otherwise that is, I think unique in history, though you would be able to better judge than I, is the internal threat in this country arising from the so-called stealth Jihad or civilization Jihad Dawal.

And to the extent that what we’re seeing in terms of the suppression of our understanding or even our ability to discuss this enemy of, I call it Sharia I think the best term, is, in part, at least, a function of the agenda of those promoting this kind of program.  Have we seen something like this before in history?

Victor Hanson: I don’t think so.

Audience Member:  And what do you think we should best be doing about it?

Victor Hanson:  No, I don’t think so.  In   2009, as you know, there were more terrorist attempts, plots uncovered, in any year since 9/11.  So we do know that all of the Al Arabiya interview, the myth making in Cairo in June where an Islamic pedigree was adduced for everything from the Enlightenment to the Renaissance, a General Casey saying that his big fear was that diversity would be a casualty of the Major Hasan assault—all of that stuff, the report from the former Secretary of the Army that Islamic terrorism was equivalent to other sorts of extremism.  All of that proved of no utility because we still had a plot uncovered to blow up a subway, the so-called panty bomber Christmas Day, the Ft. Hood killing, and more still to come.

Raymond Ibrahim was here yesterday, and if you look at his Al Qaeda Reader, what’s fascinating about Bin Laden and Dr. Zawahiri is that they list all the reasons that caused 9/11.  I counted them.  There were 19.  Yet they include things like the lack of campaign finance reform and the failure to sign Kyoto Treaty.  (Laughter)

So what I’m saying is that these people really do monitor what they think our response will be.  And whether it’s fair or not, a lot of them think that Obama is more than usual sympathetic to front-line states against Israel, that he bought into the argument that Israel weakens American security elsewhere.  That he bought into the idea that Islam was a catalyst for western achievement.  He bought into the idea that he wants to close Guantanamo. All that is very dangerous because it suggests to the unhinged that if you do something, you may not face the same kind of consequences that you otherwise would.  The  fact that you probably will, doesn’t matter; it’s the perception. That’s what scares me.

Audience Member:  Dr. Hanson, I think on a practical level, the issue I’d be most curious to hear you synthesize is your observation that Obama’s sort of multicultural narcissism rejection of Europe as an Anglo-Colonial type of system, how you reconcile that with his seeming infatuation with Europe economically, the growing welfare state collectivist continent.  How those things fit together.

Victor Hanson:  Well, it actually is not a dichotomy, or a polarity as we might think, and here’s why.  He does not embrace Europe, Churchill, the Anglo-American alliance that saved civilization in World War II, the uniquely European Enlightenment, the Renaissance,  all the things that made Europe so singular today and in the past.

What he instead embraces is a generation of 1968 in Europe, who  themselves have rejected their own past; the Schroder-type statists, the Green Party Movement in Germany, the hard left in Britain, the anti-American French elite. What he sees is that there is a western elite that has rejected the western tradition.  And, therefore, he can be like them.  He can be a state-socialist like them.  He can be an anti-American like them, and he doesn’t have to like them.

So yes, there is a contradiction, he’s pro-new Europe as anti-old Europe, and yet he rejects Europe as a historical force, he rejects the old Europe and he likes the socialist, anti-Europe new Europe.  Odder still, he flies around in this jet and he promises a hundred billion here and a hundred billion there. and he talks about this summit and everybody’s coming to him for advice, in all of that, he never makes the obvious connection: Why is it that I, Barack Obama, have the most influence in the world?  Why is it that I get to make the decisions?  Why is it that I have the most sophisticated military?  Why is it that my economy is what everybody’s looking to?

He never succeeds to make the connection that the reason is that we have a singular, exceptional Constitution.  The capitalist system produces goods and services like none other.  We have a civil society.  We solved the multiracial problem.  This is the most amazing contribution.  And all that has translated into all these prerogatives— wealth, leisure, opportunities—that Obama enjoys, both before and as President.  And, therefore, every time we go by a grave, we want to thank God for those people who died in Okinawa or thank God at for those who fell Shiloh.  And he doesn’t get that—that he is a beneficiary of a most generous successful tradition whose logic result is his own privilege.

So all that he does comes on the fumes of all these generations who did this. And our president of all people doesn’t have enough character or insight to at least acknowledge that he is a beneficiary of all this.  And I think that’s the most shameless thing about it, a sense of indifference to the very protocols and traditions that allow a U.S. president to have power and influence unrivaled in the word—all impossible if much of Mr. Obama own agenda had been enacted in the past. Thank you.

  • Suzie

    Thank you. I've pondered Obama since I first learned his name and that he was a community organizer. I wept when he was elected. Nothing he does surprises me. It is in line with his goals.
    The reasons he rejects Israel make sense as you describe them. The same is true for Iran. You have given me an insight which contributes to my perception of this man.
    Wars have been going on forever. Unfortunately, Obama makes its emergence sooner-than-otherwise more likely.

  • Frank

    Just as Jimmy Carter gave us Ronald Reagan, maybe the big O will give us Sarah Palin.

    • Morrisminor

      That is scary, but I guess small minds want their equals in office

      • davarino

        Thats funny. Do you have any other cliches you can share with us. Maybe you can repeat the classic "I can see Russia from my backyard". That was great.

        I think you can rest assured it wont be Sarah because she is proving not to be as conservative as we had hoped. So unfortunately for the left, it will be someone that is sane and connects with the American people with solutions, not "change", "hope", and other non descript words that mean nothing.

  • Suzie

    Thank you. I've pondered Obama since I first learned his name and that he was a community organizer. I wept when he was elected. Nothing he does surprises me. It is in line with his goals.
    The reasons he rejects Israel make sense as you describe them. The same is true for Iran. You have given me an insight which contributes to my perception of this man.
    Wars have been going on forever. Unfortunately, Obama makes its emergence sooner-than-otherwise more likely.

  • Geoff

    The Obama bluff — when called will be followed by the Odinga fascism since having no sway in the world will futilely turn around and put pressure on the American citizen, mostly white.

  • von Starkermann

    The man is a Liberal "Do Gooder" he wants to make sure that everyone regardless of where they are just loves the USA. We Fascists need people like Obama. It just makes our day to see a P.I.T.(President in Training) operate. The end result will be the same as what we all are seeing in Greece these days. Rioting in the streets, killing of innocent people. Can you imagine if the N word people lost their welfare checks? or the Mexi types cannot have free access to our health care system? or better yet all coloured people not getting into University on Affirmative Action quotas? Mayhem in the streets. Just what we are looking for.

  • Andres de Alamaya

    I considered this to be an excellent enlightenment on the potentially most dangerous man in the world today because when he brings down America, all the rest of the world will also fall apart. I feel you make too many excuses for Bush who paved the road to this disaster. With few and poor options in leaders, modern Democracies find voters not so much voting FOR a new man as AGAINST the one they want to be rid of. If not for Bush, Obama would never have got in. And like in classic cowboy movies, the town that brought in the new sheriff to get rid of the bad guys eventually finds the sheriff is worse than the bad guys were. A super dramatic Hollywood scenario would end the film with great irony in which a Palestinian suicide bomber does in his would-be savior over not having done enough.

    • davarino

      I disagree that Bush gave obama the opportunity. I think it was McCain that threw the election. How could anyone run such a poor campaign accidentally?

  • PAthena

    I still do not understand how Obama came to be the Democratic nominee for president, and even less why so many people voted for him. As for Jimmy Carter, he was the one who forced the Shah of Iran out of power – I have read because he wouldn't break the law to let Jimmy's brother do something to make money – like Obama attacking allies of the United States.

    • Big Elk

      Just before Carter abandoned the Americans in the embassy to the jihadst mohammedans, the Shah of Iran went to New York for medical care for cancer, and the Shah transferred about 18 billion dollars to David Rockafeller's (sp?) City Bank, at about the same time it was reported in the press that Carter had been summoned to David Rockafeller's upstate New York estate to get his marching orders from the banker. City Bank made billions off the money the Shah deposited in City Bank, and you just have to wonder how much was kicked back to the crooked Carter, the worst president of the 20th century.

    • Jim C.

      You will then be even more confused when he wins re-election.

      • davarino

        hehe uh huh……right

  • DeadReckoning

    Obama, from Audacity of Hope: 'I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.'

    • trickyblain

      Wrong. Your quotation is a dishonest re-wording of the following passage of Audacity of hope:

      "In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

      • Democracy First

        For sure that quote is, repeatedly, taken out of context to smear.

        On the other hand, as hanson points out, Obama's foreign policy is proving feckless and disastrous.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

        Muslim immigrants need assurance?

        We need assurance that Muslim immigrants aren't going to make a series of attacks inside shopping malls, install Sharia law in their enclaves, and nuke Wall Street. Every time a Muslim attack occurs in this country, there will be "hard stares", and rightly so. They come from a religion which demands everything from world and gives nothing to it.

    • eor

      He also said "My name used to be Steve".

    • traeh

      I don't support Obama, I lean conservative, but I'm damn sick of liars attributing to Obama that phony "quote." That's not what that passage in his book means or says, as anyone can check. Trickyblain has the correct quote, along with the context that shows what Obama in fact meant.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

        Then the fellow's lying, once again. Just tonight, the news broke that AG Holder is going to review the Miranda law, opening the way for denying people the right to remain silent.

        It would seem that Mr. Obama didn't mean what he said, doesn't it?

        • davarino

          Ya and we wouldnt want to get caught misquoting someone on the left, cause they never do that to their opponents

          No, republicans will bend over backwards to play the game fairly while the opposition plays a rigged game

          • traeh

            That's exactly what the left says about us. I'm not aware of any empirical studies of who does it more or less. I see Left and Right do it frequently, one of the reasons I dislike politics and find its discourse often mentally and morally retarded. At any rate, if people are going to lie, the lie at least should not be so incredibly detectable, like the "stand with the Muslims" pseudo-quote. All one has to do is go to the actual passage, which is not hard to find by going to Google books, and one can see that the quote is a big and stupid lie.

            By lying about Obama in a way that is so easy to detect, we only establish two things with crystal clarity: we are liars, and we are not very clever about it. Stupid and dishonest. A charming combination. And surprise surprise: that "charm offensive" might just weaken the presentation of our case against Obama as a president. That kind of vicious propaganda could almost (I don't think so, but almost) have been started by some Machiavellian Democratic operative seeking to discredit Republicans by making them look like liars, and stupid ones to boot. If our case against Obama is good on the merits (and it is good) then why do we need to lie? Don't we have the truth on our side? Why are we making it seem to people that we need lies, as if we didn't have the truth on our side? The reason is that a lie seems a much easier way to get directly to the conclusion you want to reach. No effort required, not study time required.

            It reflects badly on us, and makes those sitting on the fence who can see through these lies confused about whom to believe.

          • Jim C.

            But traeh…the point was never to tell the truth! The point is to manipulate the emotions of your low-info voters! You think you can win elections just by saying government spending is out of control?

          • davarino

            yes you can win an election by harping on an issue. The only thing is you need the media on your side, or at least to give you a fighting chance to get your message out. And even if you get your message out, it would really help if the media didnt direct the conversation. Almost like leading questions in a court, except the other side dosnt get to object.

  • USMCSniper

    Buraq Hussain Obama is a habitual liar and never gets called on it. Look for all his documented lies at: http://obamawho.wordpress.com/2008/03/29/obamas-5… Here is an additional whopper one:

    Obama also spoke about his uncle, who was part of the American brigade that helped to liberate Auschwitz. He said the family legend is that, upon returning from war, his uncle spent six months in an attic. “Now obviously, something had really affected him deeply, but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain,” Obama said.

    The truth really is that Auschwitz of course is in Poland. It was liberated by the Red Army on Jan 27 1945. The Allies were wrapping up the battle of the bulge in late January of 1945

    • Big Elk

      I would name Obama as a "pathological liar" not a habitual one, the difference has to do with intent and purpose. Semper Fi

    • davarino

      Kinda like Hillary dodging bullets in Iraq. These people make stuff up as they go and count on the average person not paying attention. My question is, why dont the repubs monopolize on these instances and grind them into the dirt? What gives?

  • Cuban Refugee

    This speech backs up my belief that the insightful Victor Davis Hanson is firmly planted in the pantheon of current political analysts. With tongue in my cheek I ask, "Why is Obama the stealth President? Because if his complete vital records were revealed, we also would learn that, somewhere on his body, are tattoed the numbers 666." I wonder just how much more the patient American people can endure before the required Articles of Impeachment are drawn. Let's hope this can be accomplished before Greece comes to our doorstep courtesy of the SEIU, the reconstituted ACORN, La Raza and other protagonists for evil.

  • Faithful Christian

    Frank:
    I had the same thought, but I would take it the final step. God gave us Carter for Reagan and now he gives us O for Palin.

    • Morrisminor

      Another theocon throws his sole 2 cents into the discussion

  • trickyblain

    Nearly every paragraph contains a varition of the phrase "Obama thinks." VDH, as far as I know, is not telepathic. This is quite possibly the longest strawman in the history of the written word.

    • Democracy First

      It's based on actions, appointees, words. It's analysis, not an effort to mind read.

    • Democracy First

      It's based on actions, appointees, words. It's analysis, not an effort to mind read.

    • Jim C.

      tricky, here's what these guys' "analysis" amounts to:

      1. Assigning mind-reading "motivations" to Obama (even when Obama does something they philosophically have to agree with, they'll assign a 'cynical' motive to invalidate it)

      2. Making vast quantities of inane predictions (the fact that their predictions have been wrong since 2008 doesn't stop them from forecasting the "Downfall of the United States").

  • Tankfurdig

    Anyone I knew who voted for Obama couldn't give me ONE specific reason why Obama should be president. It was always "Anyone but Bush" detritous. The thing that worries me, is not only so many people in the US were irrational in voting for the guy, but what about the crazy Muslims? Will they attack while they can, realizing people are getting fed up with the unqualified, obviously over his head , and incompetent president, or will they wait until somehow the media cons the public into a second term, in which the crazy Muslims will have 4 gravy years to go nuts?

  • Vuulfie

    I think the point of the article was to try and understand his thinking vis-a-vis foreign policy, not to set up a straw man argument. Clearly it doesn't fit your agenda and any criticism of Obama must be flawed.

    • trickyblain

      I don't have an agenda. Therefore, my agenda is not "hate Obama at all costs." Nor was it "hate Bush at all costs" like many on the left. So I'm not sure how it's "clear." Between the two of them, theres plenty of criticism to go around, but VDH clearly defifies Bush, while demonizing Obama. Rubbish with a few $5 dollar words and a ill-fated analogies to ancient Greece (comparing nukes to primitive catapults?) is rubbish nonetheless.

      If VDH's aim was to "try" to understand his thinking, he would say "Perhaps Obama thinks…" or "it is possible that Obama is doing this becasue…" Hansen does not do this. He speaks as if he fully understands Obama's motivations, thoughts and incentives. He is playing to the moronic notion that Obama is "out to destroy America."

      • Democracy First

        You could say Obama deifies Bush by having adopted all his anti-terror policies and protocols, even expanding many.

        But you could also say Bush identified with western democracies and the long slow march to their establishment. Accordingly, consciously or unconsciously, he was always motivated to nurture and protect western values and political institutions.

        Obama seems to as much identify with the world's non democracies, to identify as much as a non westerner as westerner. That, he believes, makes him specially capable of reaching out, of understanding, of peacemaking. In fact, it makes him stunningly naive and uniquely dangerous

      • Democracy First

        You could say Obama deifies Bush by having adopted all his anti-terror policies and protocols, even expanding many.

        But you could also say Bush identified with western democracies and the long slow march to their establishment. Accordingly, consciously or unconsciously, he was always motivated to nurture and protect western values and political institutions.

        Obama seems to as much identify with the world's non democracies, to identify as much as a non westerner as westerner. That, he believes, makes him specially capable of reaching out, of understanding, of peacemaking. In fact, it makes him stunningly naive and uniquely dangerous

      • cochavi1

        Tricky you are disengenuous. You support ritualistically the Democrat position while claiming to be an independent and a moderate. Maybe you are moderate, you are not independent, and you are a Repub/Conservative hater by virtue of your words.

  • PAthena

    I still do not understand how Obama came to be the Democratic nominee for president, and even less why so many people voted for him. As for Jimmy Carter, he was the one who forced the Shah of Iran out of power – I have read because he wouldn't break the law to let Jimmy's brother do something to make money – like Obama attacking allies of the United States.

  • ze-ev ben jehudah

    Nostrodamus and his followers predicted that 1012 will be a date that
    will endanger the whole world and put us back to the ice age.
    Obama [ yagh ] will function as the fuse that can explode civillization.
    No winners only losers. So Barack Hussein Obama should be put
    in a staight jacket instead of sitting in the oval office.

    • trickyblain

      Looks like your prediction is 1,000 years out of date. If your looking to scare yourself, refer to the Mayan calender instead.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

        What? You never have a typo? :)

      • davarino

        Oh and watch out for the crystal skulls…..yikes

  • USMCSniper

    Buraq Hussain Obama is a habitual liar and never gets called on it. Look for all his documented lies at: http://obamawho.wordpress.com/2008/03/29/obamas-5… Here is an additional whopper one:

    Obama also spoke about his uncle, who was part of the American brigade that helped to liberate Auschwitz. He said the family legend is that, upon returning from war, his uncle spent six months in an attic. “Now obviously, something had really affected him deeply, but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain,” Obama said.

    The truth really is that Auschwitz of course is in Poland. It was liberated by the Red Army on Jan 27 1945. The Allies were wrapping up the battle of the bulge in late January of 1945

  • Linda

    ok, here goes. without being over emotional …………he's arrogant, he's a liar whenever it is expedient, which is often. He has a bad habit of mocking those ( a goodly portion of the American public) who dissent, which is certainly not presidential or thoughtful. ( I firmly believe he's a marxist ( reading his books early in his campaign, listening to his speeches led me to my conclusions about his ideology)l and since he has been elected, he is proving it.. Lastly, I know this doesn't exactly jive with his transparent behavior; but he exhibits a naivete that could be his undoing). The majority of us are not the sheep he believed. And finally the notion that Obama is out to destroy the nation, is in a sense very true. He believes that reparations wouldn't not go far enough. It's clear from his own words that he believes that redistribution of your dollar and mine is the right thing to do, even if we did do the work to get it. The incentive to achieve something for one's self instead of living off the other person's hard won wages is not productive. Once everyone is riding the wagon, where will it all come from?

  • warner mobley

    Your comment about Shiloh says you don't believe "States Rights" is what the South was fighting for. Secession is coming because Clinton, Bush, and now Hussein refuse to honor their oaths to protect our borders and so states must secede to protect themselves.

    • Morrisminor

      That state's rights in question in 1860 were the right to own slaves. End discussion, now crawl back into your hole.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

        Why do you assume that someone who has a different position than yours "lives in a hole?"

        One of the most interesting things you could do is to read a transcript of the first debate between Lincoln and Douglas. They both basically agreed that slavery was an institution whose days were numbered. They differed on the means of ending it. Lincoln was for drastic means, the sooner, the better. Douglas believed … and rightly so … that slavery would die of natural causes.

        Lincoln had his way, and 629 thousand Americans died, as a result. The aftermath caused generations of hatred between regions and people.

        But hey, slavery ended!

    • Kevin

      Go find a copy of the Confederate Constitution; it clearly states that IT is the "perfect union", because it is not based on the falsehood that "all men are created equal".

      Please to explain the KKK, Jim Crow, or the 16th St church bombing if indeed the Civil War was a dispute over "states' rights" gone wrong, rather than a dispute over human rights long delayed.

  • Big Elk

    "Dissecting Obama"? Can I watch, and can I have the liver. LOL Of course, Obama is a commie; what else is new?

  • cochavi1

    The other comment I have is in criticism of the very smart and verbal VDH. Like Horowitz and many others, he absolutely 'outlaws' the questioning if Obama's legal legitimacy.

    If this is done for pragmatic political reasons, say so. If as I suspect it is done because Victor et al can't stand to think how corrupt the 'elites' 'probably' are, then it reflects a failure of will. Ironic in one who writes about finishing wars.

  • cochavi1

    The other comment I have is in criticism of the very smart and verbal VDH. Like Horowitz and many others, he absolutely 'outlaws' the questioning if Obama's legal legitimacy.

    If this is done for pragmatic political reasons, say so. If as I suspect it is done because Victor et al can't stand to think how corrupt the 'elites' 'probably' are, then it reflects a failure of will. Ironic in one who writes about finishing wars.

    • traeh

      The "question" about Obama's legal legitimacy is similar to the "question" about who "really" did 9/11. In other words, the people who support these two conspiracy theories are about equally intent upon rejecting any factual and logical critique of the theory. The overwhelming preponderance of evidence is all taken as a sham. Further, both conspiracies assume a huge coverup maintained by many people. That's just not a rational assumption in a place like the United States. You can hardly get even two people to keep a secret, much less twenty or fifty, especially when there are huge profits to be made from revealing the secret, and huge punishments to avoid by revealing the secret.

      The other problem with the kind of conspiracy theory that assumes in the U.S. a huge coverup by many people, is that such theories undermine self-government. The people who propose these vast conspiracies are telling us: "Your government is not even approximately democratic or self-governing. It's all a sham controlled by an elite. " And if that's all it is, then anyone is justified in trying to overthrow it by violence or a coup. And for these conspiracy theorists, there is really a complete moral equivalence between the "sham" democratic nations and all the dictatorial nations of the world. So these kinds of conspiracy theories (not all conspiracy theories, just the ones with the several characteristics I've referred to) are often the tools of would-be fascists and despots, who use the conspiracy theory to dupe gullible followers and undermine the legitimate, law-based society, and justify the rise of a tyrant.

      And many who propose huge conspiracies by which hidden elites control everything in the U.S., simply cannot conceive of order arising on its own through the interaction of many centers working in an uncentralized way. To these conspiracists, the whole is nothing in itself. To them, a whole can only be the result of the direction of a particular part or parts. There is a kind of reductionism involved, of the whole to the parts, and especially to only a few of them. The notion that the whole could be greater than the sum of the parts, could be to some degree independent of the parts, is incomprehensible to them, because they lack the specific experiences out of which they might crystallize the necessary ideas. They think some one group or few groups must be responsible for most of the order we see around us. But Shakespeare knew about spontaneous order that arises without coming from a single center:

      Many things, having full reference
      To one consent, may work contrariously;
      As many arrows, loosed several ways,
      Fly to one mark; as many ways meet in one town;
      As many streams meet in one salt sea;
      As many lines close in the dial’s center;
      So may a thousand actions, once afoot,
      End in one purpose, and be all well borne
      Without defeat.

  • Mladen Andrijasevic

    The sense of dread on whether Iran can be deterred or not is horrible but it is still better than being already annihilated because as Bernard Lewis wrote ‘ For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.’ So when you say ‘Yet the problem isn’t whether we can deter them or not’, this is not true.

    Like in an OR clause when we hit a 1, we do not have to process any further, so with Iran if they get the bomb they will use it and we do not have to worry about the sense of dread whether they will use it. We would be dead.

  • http://www.wardesk.com American Eagle

    Anyone who thinks obama is 'clueless' about anything he is doing (or not), is deluding himself. He is doing everything in his power to weaken america, both domestically and internationally, to the point that america collapses in all important spheres—economy, national security. Aiding and abetting Iran in its mad pursuit, throwing Israel under the bus, making terroism easier, and dismantling american economy … each one of this is clearly thoughtout policy to achieve his globalist/marxist ends.

    If our conservative thinkers stop beating this old drum, "oh obama is clueless" or "is weak" or "is dreamer with no experience" etc., and concentrate on what he is actually doing pro-actively, they will see what this guy, and his cabal, is actually made of. Clue for the clueless: all three major powers aiding and abetting Iran's madness are marxists—Russian, China, American Left. What do you suppose are they upto?

    • American Eagle LL

      Yes, Obama is doing everything he can to weaken America.
      Think "the 20th hijacker" and suddenly everything he is doing makes sense.

  • Paul P

    Truly one of the most insightful and critically accurate descriptions of our president, Barack Obama.

    Obama's election itself is a tribute to our nation's progress regarding race. The wealth and stature that Obama has attained is a tribute to our nation's economic and political processes. Obama's education is a tribute to our educational systems. The safety and security of the Obama Family is a tribute to our rule of law.

    Yet, Obama as a prime example of American success, decries America and her systems and processes as harmful, dangerous and ill-intended. Obama is not merely a contradiction, he is disillusioned, disingenuous and even more so, dangerous.

  • Shalom Freedman

    It is always a pleasure and learning- experience to read work of Victor Davis Hanson. I would simply like to second the motion in regard to the disastrous unprecedentednature of the Obama Administration's relation to Israel. The Obama Administration has put one- sided pressure on Israel and in effect negotiated for the Arabs. If they were not interested in true negotiations before they certainly will not negotiate in good faith in the future. The Obama Administration has given other nations the sense that there is no real advantage in maintaining friendship with Israel. It has too moved towards the absurd position of putting Israel and Iran on the same level as nuclear threats My sense is that however bad they have been so far they will only get worse. A worrisome situation indeed.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/topperj topperj

    Not only is Obama post-modern, he is post-American. Growing up in various places antithetical to America, he has been formed as an opponent of the very country he now heads. It's like the kid who joins the Boy Scouts, secretly homosexual, then works to change the organization to his liking as soon as he's accepted for membership. Most people would simply not join, or start their own version of the Scouts. People like Obama want to destroy things, not "change" them.

    • Jim C.

      I'm not trying to be flip here: but if what you say is true, than you'd have to notice that America is "post-American." Seriously–the place has changed.

      And if you think that, that means you are also "post-American," as this country is not meeting up with your idea of what America should be, either. You want to change it ("destroy" it?), too–but you think you can "change it back" to whatever your ideal was.

  • Morrisminor

    Post modern now there is an over worked term. Hanson may be up on Classical Greek history but his grasp on today's issues are just as lame Obama's.

  • richard

    obama wants to crash the us just like a computer.
    starting it up again with redistribution; loans, jobs, etc.
    he will dictate who gets what.

  • Morrisminor

    Post modern now there is an over worked term. Hanson may be up on Classical Greek history but his grasp on today's issues are just as lame Obama's.

  • Morrisminor

    Post modern now there is an over worked term. Hanson may be up on Classical Greek history but his grasp on today's issues are just as lame Obama's.

  • Morrisminor

    Wow here's a scary thought, Obama actually helps solve the whole Israeli Palestinian issue and there is a mutual respectful peace that spreads around the Islamic world that may defang half the Islamic crazies. But what would all the Muslim hating, war loving right wing Christian "prolife" pinheads do without the latest enemy?

    • Linda

      WHAT IF, WHAT IF WHAT IF………..YADA YADA YADA. ……………the latest enemy is the marxist America hating president.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

      Don't hold your breath waiting for this Middle East peace …

    • davarino

      The Israeli Palestinian issue will be solved by Isreal not existing any more and still the islamic world will not be happy. You are naive my friend.

  • JimP

    Dr. Hanson, I really liked you presentation and what you had to say. When you spoke about India your body language completely changed and you crossed your arms tightly. I’m very curious as to why.

  • http://www.mycreativefansite.com Creative Labs

    nice debate here

    Creative Zen Software