Signposts on the Road to Decline

Barack ObamaIn late 1930 the Tory leadership in Britain’s governing coalition decided to back independence for India despite the increasing, vicious sectarian violence that graphically showed India was not yet ready for the British to leave. Later, historian A.L. Rowse would link partisan self-interest to the failure of nerve and collapse of morale that lay behind the policies of the ruling caste. It was in 1931, Rowse wrote, that “the caste lost confidence in itself and, undermined by fear, it lost not only confidence but conscience. Confused in mind about everything, except the main chance––its own preservation, it survived from year to year, from month to month, from day to day, by blurring the clarity of all issues, even the most dangerous––that of the nation’s safety; it maintained its enormous majority by electoral trickery, it spoke and perhaps thought in the language of humbug, it hoped to stave off conflict . . . by offering appeasement.”

These comments can serve as a commentary on the Obama administration’s failed foreign policy. There has seldom been a coherent, sound principle behind that policy other than partisan electoral “preservation” no matter the danger to the nation’s security and interests. Consider this by no means exhaustive catalogue:

• His opposition to the war in Iraq, predicated in the main on the ideological prejudices of his progressive base and validated by war-fatigue among many Americans, lead to a failure to achieve a status-of-forces agreement that would have left enough troops to prevent the current descent into sectarian violence and nascent civil war now rending that country.

• His campaign-sloganeering that Afghanistan was the “good war” compared to Bush’s “bad war” in Iraq compelled him to send more troops into that country, but then to undermine them by announcing a date-certain for American withdrawal, thus ensuring a Taliban resurgence, even now accelerating, after we leave.

• His proscribing of effective enhanced interrogation techniques, another sop for his progressive base, has substituted drone killings and civilian trials for the capture of suspects who could provide valuable intelligence about the resurgent al Qaeda franchise and future terrorist attacks on the homeland.

• His electoral propaganda that al Qaeda is “on its heels” and the war against jihadism is “receding” covered up the expansion of jihadism in Nigeria, North Africa, Yemen, Syria, and Libya, where al Qaeda affiliates murdered our ambassador and three other Americans.

• His “reset” with Russia, bought with an unfavorable arms-reduction treaty and a retreat on missile defense in Eastern Europe, achieved nothing but further Russian adventurism against its neighbors, and continuing support for Iran and Syria.

• His “outreach” to Iran and diplomatic courting of the mullahs, even to the point of remaining silent when in 2009 they brutalized in the streets of Tehran their political opponents, have gained the regime more time to move ever closer to the possession of nuclear weapons.

• His undercutting of our important ally Israel did not get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, but instead encouraged Mahmoud Abbas to violate the Oslo agreement and seek recognition in the U.N., strengthening the Palestinians’ long-term resolve to destroy Israel.

• His cozying up to the Islamist regime in Turkey––most recently on display in Secretary of State John Kerry’s morally repugnant likening of the victims of the Boston bombing to the terrorists killed by Israel on the gun-running Mavi Marmara in 2010––has not slowed Turkey’s evolution into a Islamic state hostile to our interests.

• His “leading from behind” in Libya empowered jihadist militias and armed them with weapons looted from Gaddafi’s arsenals, while creating a weak state promising to be another Afghanistan in providing sanctuary for jihadist outfits.

• His abandonment of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and support for the Muslim Brothers have lead to an illiberal, theocratic Islamist regime by definition contrary to our interests and beliefs, and currently dealing with us only for the money necessary to keep their dysfunctional government afloat.

• His threats about “red lines” and “I don’t bluff” in regard to Assad’s use of chemical weapons have been exposed as mere bluster, further eroding American credibility and suggesting to our enemies that America’s leadership does not have the stomach for backing its words with action, and so can be defied with impunity.

The consistent theme of these blunders is a political calculus papered over with progressive “humbug”: America is a global bully guilty of crimes that need to be atoned for; unilateral force is rarely effective in pursuing our interests and so must be avoided; diplomatic outreach and engagement can win over our enemies; and multilateral coalitions given U.N. imprimaturs are the only legitimate sanction for using force to protect our security and interests. In short, the bankrupt, internationalist progressive “principles” that hearten our enemies and frighten our friends, but obeisance to which have been politically necessary for Obama and the progressive Democrats. And they have provided cover for policies of appeasement that avoid the political costs and dangers of using force.

What a contrast with George W. Bush, who despite his mistakes and naïveté about democracy promotion, nonetheless predicated his foreign policy on principle rather than ad hoc political expediency. His decision to provide more troops to Iraq in 2007, even as the war’s unpopularity was emboldening antiwar Democrats, was a brave one based on principle rather than political self-interest. We should remember too how politically motivated was the opposition to the surge on the part of then senators Obama, Biden, and Clinton, spurred by the success of Howard Dean’s anti-war primary campaign. Obama called the surge a “mistake” and a “reckless escalation.” Biden said, “We need to stop the surge and start to get our troops out.” Clinton said that General Petraeus’ accurate report documenting the surges’ success required “the willing suspension of disbelief.” Democrats and their presidential primary candidates were more concerned with political self-preservation and success than with the blow to America’s interests that would follow––and now undoubtedly will follow–– failure in Iraq.

The British failure of nerve over India––which after World War II would achieve independence at the cost of 2 million dead in sectarian violence, and two nuclear-armed neighboring rivals––was a signpost of the larger loss of civilizational confidence notoriously on display in the 1938 Munich conference. By 1960 the British Empire had pretty much disappeared, an abandonment based not on the principle of self-determination or freedom for colonial peoples, but on a collapse of principle, determination, and responsibility, and a selfish preference for peace and quiet no matter the cost. The foreign policy of the last four years has been eerily similar, bespeaking the same desire to avoid conflict and all the politically costly risks that force entails, perfumed with specious internationalist and diplomatic “humbug” to kill the stink of decaying principle and rank partisan self-interest. Whether this country will continue down the road of decline will depend on whether we can read these signposts and change course in time.

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  • AdinaK

    EVERY failure, both domestic and foreign policy-wise, is designed as such, and none of its effects are happenstance. It is imperative to understand where Obama Inc is headed, as opposed to what the media surrogates feed the masses on a daily basis.

    Once understood within this pre-planned prism everything falls into place –

    Cause and effect.

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel

  • κατεργάζομαι

    That Obama has lost some of his luster is certain; that this betokens a defeat for progressivism shows a grave misunderstanding on the part of conservatives.

    Remember; Satan is a liar.

    Reports of the Obama Presidency's Death Are Exaggerated

    Read more:

  • Mary Sue

    Speaking of India's independence, Gandhi would have set himself on fire if he wasn't arrested and tortured/executed, had it been China rather than Britain that ran the joint…

  • amicus101

    In 1930, a Labour Government was in power. It was not until 1931 that the National Government was formed.

  • AnOrdinaryMan

    Great article–a catalog of Obama's failures, which spell T-R-E-A-S-O-N. Let's get up a special committee to investigate Benghazi, which will summon the survivors to testify. Then set about I-M-P-E-A-C-H-I-N-G Obama.

    • Felice


    • bluffcreek1967

      I agree. One problem though: Americans lack the collective will to support the impeachment of our Dear Leader, and the Republicans are too weak, divided and currently more preoccupied with granting amnesty to hordes of Mexican invaders.

  • pierce

    Bruce, you are oh so correct, on the road to decline. Has this nation seen it's best days? Yes, but we can right that direction, but only after BO leaves Washington.

  • ziontruth

    I disagree with this article, not so much with its premise—that there are signposts of decline to be seen—but that those signposts are to be seen in foreign policy rather than the U.S.A.'s internal affairs. Media malfeasance, the corruption of academe and, above all, the re-election of a man who supports infanticide, having enticed the people to ignore it all through a combination of panem et circenses and identity politics, are the clearest and most unambiguous signs of going wrong.

    The comparison to Britain's wane is also instructive. Colonial rule, where a subjugated populace is kept under an occupation, can never go on forever, and it was only a matter of time until war-weary Britain gave up all her overseas possessions, just as France did as well. The road to Britain's decline can be traced to two internal mistakes:

    1) Right after the war, giving conservative Churchill the boot and embracing socialism. Thatcher only temporarily halted the decline here.
    2) Having given up her colonial possessions, Britain made the huge (perhaps fatal) mistake of letting all her former subjects come to reside on British soil.

    Same for France: It could well be argued that the French couldn't hold on to Algeria any longer, but after leaving Algeria they made the great mistake of allowing multitudes of North African Muslims to reside in France. (See also Boumedienne's quote about conquering the former colonial powers with the wombs of their invader-immigrant women.)

    In America today, the expectation of cradle-to-grave care by the State (thus writ large), elevated into a "right" by the Marxists who have monopolized the media and education, has corrupted the former independent American soul. The decision made after 9/11 to go on nation-building expeditions abroad proved to be nothing but a waste of men, money and materials, totally ineffective in defending the homeland against Islam when set against Bush's, and now Obama's, issuing of free visas for students from Saudi Arabia.

    In order to reverse this decline, the courses of action must be a direct response to the problem:

    1) Criminalization of Marxism as a treasonous ideology that endangers the well-being of the nation as well as nation-state,
    2) The cessation of all expeditions abroad and, in its stead, the adoption of a policy of mass expulsion to deal with invader-immigrant populations threatening the safety of the nation. ("The State As Its Nation's Castle")

    You needn't tell me of the unlikeliness of those steps being carried out as things stand today; but the first step before all, the step to be taken if there is to be any hope at all, is to know the correct nature of the problem and think up remedies that really address it.

    • Jim_C

      Hey, people make too much money off the invader-immigrant population. That's why people who talk about fences and deportation always sound so quaint.

      I think as life gets less and less cushy, people's priorities will shift by necessity. The US is ripe for a reckoning–whether we are talking about the unsustainable costs of government or the unsustainable costs of health care or education or whatever. Sooner or later, these things will be staring us in the face and no rhetoric will disguise or deflect from their reality, regardless of where the ideology is. They are large scale problems and will have to be dealt with large scale.

      Smaller scale, though, I notice a growing trend toward encouraging entrepreneurism and civic volunteerism and the study of marketable "hard" skills among parents my age in my community. Not nearly enough, but far more than even 10 years ago. People can sense, if not see, the writing on the wall, and know these are (imo) the only things that will help their kids reach success and therefore, are the only things that will preserve society.

  • Indioviejo

    The decline of our beloved nation has been coming on for decades. The low information voter who elected Obama has been with us for a very long period of time, and if any blame is to be placed as to the cause of our decline, it is the basic erosion of our educational system. Our Republic required well educated citizens if it was to work as intended but our educated elites failed the Republic. Obama is just the last of the treasonous politicians to steer our country towards its demise. I believe we are in an accelerated decline and it is unstoppable.

    • robert powel

      one of the biggest with schools are they are filled with thugs, the more little welfare hoes over bread and the more little monsters they create for the taxpayers to support the worse it becomes , more rapes and violence in schools from the thugs it is out of hand

  • esperanto

    Check out:

    "The Day in 2004 that the Thais Drpped 100 Million Paper Birds,Origamis,to get Peace with the Muslim Terrorists"


    "The Tapada of Lima,or the Use of the Niqab in America from 1560-1860,for 300 Years"

  • Chezwick

    IRAQ: The absence of a status-of-forces agreement was because of the unwillingness of Iraq to grant US soldiers immunity from local law. Obama was right to reject such conditions.

    AFGHANISTAN: However clumsy Obama's Afghan policy has been, withdrawal in 2014 is preferable to open-ended commitment, where US lives and treasure continue to be sacrificed for the unattainable goal of civilizing an Islamic hellhole whose people are largely uninterested in becoming civilized.

    INDIA: Responsibility for the 2 million killed in post-independence confessional violence should not be assigned to Britain, Had the British done everything right in preparing for independence, the violence would likely have occurred under ANY circumstance, given Muslim supremacism and their historic persecution of Hindus.

    Ziotruth is absolutely right….it is Obama's domestic/fiscal policies that are becoming the great facilitators of America's decline.

  • UraFecalLiberal

    Obama operates as a bottom feeder Chicago ward Demorat pol. He is, as a textbook sociopath, all over issues and positions based on nothing more than his own interests. Any deaths, morbid and mortal casualties of his policies and actions have no impact or affect on him. They are merely pawns and objects.

    Since he is everywhere on issues, he is nowhere. No principle, no morality, nothing but attainment of power.

    He is very easy to understand. Hear that, Bill Oaf Reilly. I make it simple and No Spin for you to understand.

  • flyingtiger

    I disagree. Obama has a coherent foreign policy. He does whatever he can do to diminish American power.

  • tagalog

    Obama was and is bluffing about Syria when he talks about doing something if someone over there crosses one of his "red lines." It's obvious every time he moves the line.

    He won't intervene in Syria because he doesn't want to bear the kind of burden of dissent that George W. Bush had to live with, and his non-intervention will result in a greater number of people who give up on him. Unfortunately, many of that same group will be antiwar types so the Syria fiasco will not have very long legs.

    Just remember, he's wounded, not dead (metaphorically speaking, of course). He's still powerful when it comes to domestic issues.

    • Jim_C

      "his non-intervention will result in a greater number of people who give up on him."

      As opposed to some feel-good bombing? As another article here today suggests, there's no "good" options with regard to Syria, and he's essentially saying what any president would be forced to say.

      Domestically, he is hamstrung for the most part, which I would think you would think is good, and it shows (to mix metaphors a bit) his Achilles Heel: his lack of Washington experience. The man needed either a dose of FDR "I don't give a f…." or LBJ's "Let's make a deal" but he has neither. And THAT is what will cause the disillusionment.

  • marios

    I came across some Muslims site (in 2010 or 2011) where some left comments "Thank you Obama for doing great job for us". It is treason from the top of Power. Look at who are his tzars! Look at how protective this WH and so-called Dem's party establishment to Islmists in our country. BHO made our country much weaker than it was in any time in history after civil war. Islamists goal is to build world wide Caliphate. They openly saying again and again "Islam will dominate in the world". Obama want to be King of that Caliphate or one of the most powerful in that Islamic empire. All his past he deleted including who paid for his education in Harward and …. Reach Saudi as many stated? We people have no idea who he is. MSM did everything to cover him but only those who are sitting on petro-dollars.

  • Texas Patriot

    I disagree with the article as well. The reason for Britain's decline was not that she failed to hold onto unmanageable and unproductive territories, but rather that she failed to maintain her own innovation and advanced manufacturing capacity. And unfortunately, America is walking lock-step with Britain down the path of self-destruction.

    The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, but rarely is. Innovation and ingenuity takes hard work, and has nothing to do with chasing mirages.

  • Arkansas

    Now I have heard everything. The ruling Caste? So the British are a caste system. Colonialism failed? I marvel at those who compare the land of liberty to the slave state of Rome, now someone compares us to centuries old monarchies.

  • Marvin Fox

    Obama is the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time. His glib lack of substance is a reflection of the absence of the right man in the right place at the right time.
    I have watched this decline for decades. It has always been a political decline. Two political parties have squeezed the American people into their agenda for their parties' preservation.
    The British ruling class is blamed for the fall of the British Empire. Our ruling class has become the elite politicians, preserved in power by government money, kept in office by protecting laws, Promoted by friendly Media, and assured of being considered leaders and statesmen.
    We have the Democrats, using a phony democracy, and couldn't find a real democracy with both hands if one was in their hip pocket. The Republicans, who can't figure out the origin of the name of their party; and, if one listens to their words, believe they live in a democracy.
    Is it any wonder our Republic crumbles while we elect and reelect its enemies?
    Marvin Fox

  • Susan

    Some very thoughtful comments on this site.

    What encourages me is how much better informed conservatives are concerning the reality of our corrupt government compared to just four years ago. When Obama took office we discerned the liberal tactics and the biased media, but the first moves from him and his administration left us glazed; we still maintained some notion of fair play and believed if we just exposed the truth, the truth would triumph. Then it began to dawn on us, that what was happening had nothing to do with the truth (except to twist it or silence it), or adhering to the Constitution, or holding our political officials accountable, or even expecting any of the mainstream media to actually do the work of investigative reporting; America has been asleep for decades while the insidious communist usurpers have been invading our beloved country. But we are awake now. If we were blissfully ignorant of our rights as Americans, most of us now know a heck of a lot more about the Constitution and our Bill of Rights, and if even half of the citizenry feels as angry about this satanic over-reaching gang as I do, it’s not going to be as easy as these criminals are hoping. I also believe in God’s almighty intervention. Don’t go quietly into that good night.

    • Gordon

      I used to think the ASS was the perfect animal to represent the Democratic Party; I now believe the symbol should be replaced by Lemmings.

    • Jim_C

      Don't pat yourselves on the back too quickly if you think the reality of corrupt government is an Obama phenomenon and the erosion of the Constitution something coming purely from the left (remember the Patriot Act?)

      Otherwise you're as big a lemming as anyone.

  • BLJ

    What about his stealing of the 2012 election?