Obama’s Assault on America’s Prestige

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In 1868, a British army led by Sir Robert Napier sailed from India to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to rescue several English and European hostages from the mentally unstable, sadistic King Theodore. Theodore had become enraged a few years earlier because his letter to Queen Victoria asking for military assistance had been ignored, and so he retaliated by taking the hostages. Napier’s expedition required the building of a port, railroad, and road in order for his army of 13,000 soldiers to march to Theodore’s stronghold Magdala, 400 brutal miles from the coast. After the three-month march, the British met Theodore’s army at Magadala and routed it. The hostages were released, and Theodore committed suicide. Then Napier led his army back to the coast and sailed away, surprising many who believed that rescuing the hostages was a pretext for colonial expansion.

The Abyssinian expedition illustrates the British awareness that an empire must defend not just its material interests, but also its prestige. Insults and injuries to its citizens cannot be tolerated, for rivals and enemies will interpret such forbearance as a weakness to be exploited. The expedition was an expensive, massive undertaking, but one necessary in order to warn the Empire’s potential enemies that England would pay any price to defend its honor and interests. Power is not just about material resources, but also the perceptions of others that power will be used, a perception that works as a force multiplier. As Vergil says in the Aeneid, “They have power because they seem to have power.”

History is filled with examples of how costly it is for a nation to allow its prestige to be damaged, thus weakening its power and inviting aggression. By 1938, Hitler had no respect for the English or the French despite their combined military might, given their failure to respond to Germany’s serial violations of the Versailles settlement over the previous two decades. Thus Hitler’s brilliant manipulation of diplomacy in the Czechoslovakia crisis, when England and France, as Churchill would write later, “presented a front of two over-ripe melons crushed together.” Hitler agreed: a year later, he would respond to England and France’s guarantee of Poland’s security by sneering, “I saw them at Munich. They are little worms.”

Likewise the U.S. paid the price for its loss of prestige following the abandonment of South Vietnam in 1975. As Jimmy Carter publicly announced a “crisis of confidence,” fretted over America’s “recent mistakes” and “recognized limits,” and cut spending on the military, an emboldened Soviet Union went on a geopolitical rampage throughout the Third World. Equally ominous was the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the seizure of the embassy hostages, a grievous affront to our prestige met with toothless sanctions, U.N. resolutions, secret negotiations, and the whole repertoire of excuses to substitute talk for action. A byproduct of this blow to U.S. prestige was the creation of an oil-rich jihadist regime in the heart of the Middle East, one that immediately started creating and supporting terrorist groups that for 30 years have murdered Americans. A series of jihadist attacks followed Iran’s victory over the superpower America, from the 1983 Beirut bombing of the Marine barracks, to the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, none of which were met with a punitive response that would have made clear the overwhelming price to be paid for assaulting America’s interests and citizens. So it was no surprise that Osama bin Laden, convinced that America was a “weak horse” with “foundations of straw,” on September 11, 2001 sent his jihadists to attack the very centers of American power and prestige in Washington D.C. and New York.

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  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

    Last time Britain cared about its prestige was the counter attack against Argentine for capturing Falkland Islands (during the Thatcher administration). Yet Britain had lost its prestige completely allowing Iran to capture British Navies.

    America had lost its prestige since Vietnam, and it is just getting worse…

    All administrations imposed the suicidal tactic of using unwisely limited war power, or leaving the job unfinished. That is why we still have bleeding problems with North Korea and Communist China, later with Iran, Afghanistan. Carter took the wrong side with Iran, Clinton – the wrong side with Serbia, against the interests of America!

    All administrations were obsessed with ignorant nation building for the enemy. The nation building for the enemy may happen to be successful (even wise) only exceptionally, for exclusive enemies such as Germany, Japan, South Korea. Otherwise the enemy must be crushed, period. Islamic nations cannot and must not be rebuilt. Mecca and Medina ought to be nuked on 9/12/2011.

    Indeed, the sitting impostor and Commander-in-Thief brought the US prestige lower than any of the predecessors. After all, who else prior to him publicly bowed to foreign tyrants, or betrayed the national identity of the own nation?! But then who else of the predecessors dared to blatantly commit the Constitutional perjury, and to discredit the presidency by egregious forgery and identity theft?!

  • tagalog

    President Reagan got a little credibility for the U.S. back after Vietnam, just with those little brushes in Panama seizing Noriega, and in Grenada. Even those little teapot moments made us look stronger. Then we skedaddled out of Lebanon.

    Osama bin Laden saw the U.S. as weak for one very specific reason: the humiliation of our forces in Mogadishu in 1993, under the leadership of Bill Clinton, who wanted our army to engage in nation-building instead of fighting the warlords who were exploiting their people. We should never have been in Somalia in the first place, but if we were going to go, we should have gone in with a fully-functional fighting force.

    If we were going to engage in nation-building instead of war, then it would have been best to send in the diplomats instead of the soldiers. If you're going to send in the soldiers, send in the armor and artillery too, along with the ships and the planes.

    • mrbean

      Now that was outstanding post – makes up for the previous nonsense. Tells you also that Bill Clinton's neglect and cowardice led to 9/11 because all the planning, training, and go ahead took place under hos watch as did 10 other major al Qaeda terrorist attacks.

      • Jim_C

        Clinton bombed the al Qaeda camps, only to find bin Ladin had been gone a few days. He was ridiculed, by the way, by the Right for his "obsession" with bin Ladin. There weren't a lot of people outside a handful of think tankers who perceived the threat of Islamism in the post-Cold War environment.

        • Anonymous

          Clinton didn't "bomb" them, you fool. He did order a small number of cruise missiles to be fired on the day the Congress was to begin impeachment proceedings against him (amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing coincidence, no?).

          That was a purely political decision on his part, not a serious attempt to disable the enemy. So transparent that even a dimwitted democrat voter could see through it. Well, no, such a person can't see the obvious.

        • tagalog

          He wasn't ridiculed by the right for his obsession with bin Laden; he was ridiculed for his "Wag The Dog" strategy to deflect attention from his impeachment. And it wasn't just righties who ridiculed him for that.

          Evidently you've forgotten how President Bush and Condoleezza Rice were taken to task for not paying enough attention to that CIA memo about Muslim terrorism in the United States. Even the CIA thought that there was a threat from Muslim action, probably based on Muslim attacks dating from at least the Reagan era, if not going back to the Iranian Hostage Crisis during the Carter years.

  • clarespark

    Can national security, a strong foreign policy, and anti-imperialism be combined? Obama's SOTU address claimed yes, yet it smelled like proto-fascism to me. See http://clarespark.com/2012/01/25/the-state-of-the…. The military model that Obama recommended to solve our internal problems will not repair our damaged prestige in the world, and I would add to this article's list of horribles the Rooseveltian internationalism that favored the United Nations as the solution to war..

  • mrbean

    Watch China and Russia revertto the stamdard veto of all US UN proposals because they regard Obama as a weal naive nom-leader they refer to as "Obambi" and Hillary Clinton as an "unkempt charwoman" who is a stupid and arrogant old hag.

  • BLJ

    O = One
    B = Big
    A = Ass
    M = Mistake
    A = America

    • mlcblog

      LIke? where is the I love this button?

  • tanstaafl

    Obama views himself, not as an American, but as a "citizen of the world". Whatever that means.

    • mlcblog

      I think he sees himself not as anti-American (though at the bottom line that is the fact), but more of not American, un-American. Like it has cooties or something, and he disdains being an American. See his head up in the snooty air so much? Nose turned up. So much better than us meat-eating Bible-reading patriotic hero-appreciating American fools!!!

  • Ozdragon

    Under Theodore Roosevelt the USA had the fifth largest Navy and a very small army. Yet no one messed with us because they knew he would pull the trigger.
    It is not the size of the army but the guy's perception of your willingness to use it that creates the deterent.

  • BLJ

    That picture says it all for me. An arrogant self-absorbed anti-American creep.

  • Ghostwriter

    Well,you guys should read the book Bill Press wrote. He claims that President Obama is misunderstood by everyone and his critics are race-obsessed fanatics bent on destroying his administration. And also he's not as leftist as everyone thinks he is. What do you guys think about Bill Press' book?

  • BLJ

    Bill Press blows.

  • waldemar

    @ .."Bashar al Assad’s brutal slaughter of his citizens…"

    Sir, I humbly submit that when Muslims slaughter other Muslims the whole world benefits. That's the way to Save the Planet. We should encourage that, rather than deplore.

  • Jim_C

    President Obama had Osama bin Ladin killed. He has destroyed entire tiers of al Qaeda leadership. Over 240 strikes on terror targets in Pakistan alone. And he's fulfilling his campaign promise to bring the troops home from both fronts.

    If you think he's somehow done more than President Bush to diminish American prestige abroad, you're out of your mind. 8 years of not caring about American prestige and scads of contempt for its critics; and now you're oh-so concerned? Funny how that works.

    In short, we owe President Obama a debt of gratitude.

    • mlcblog


      • Jim_C

        Balderdash, ye say? Why, poppycock!

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Our prestige can not be measured in the actions of our efete politicians, nor can it
    be measured in the business sector of our Nation, it's leaders self absorbed and
    lost in space looking for treasure outside of and American economy. Our prestige
    can only be measured in the character of our people and as I look around it seems
    we are getting what we deserve excepting our military which is being undermined
    by our Marxist Messiah hiding in a closet with his turban……………………….William