Thursday, April 30, 2009

Events Will Decide Obama Presidency

By Alan Caruba

A former British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, was once asked what he feared most and his answer was, “Events.”

Leadership is tested by things that happen over which neither a Prime Minister, President, nor any other national leader has any control. Bush43, as are all Presidents, was warned daily of potential threats, but until 9/11 Bush was into a relatively standard first term feeling his way with Congress on a few legislative initiatives.

History will record that Bush43 was up to the moment. People forget that, not only had he attended and received degrees from both Yale and Harvard, but had served in the Texas Air National Guard and qualified as a fighter pilot. This is no small feat. Moreover, he had experience in the business sector before becoming Governor of Texas. So, when 9/11 occurred, he had a lot of experience, knowledge, and resources to draw upon, including a father who had been President!

Bush made a strategic decision to expand the initial success in Afghanistan against al Qaeda to include the removal of a threat to the entire Middle East when he invaded Iraq, along with the British and other allies. Saddam Hussein had previously conducted an eight year war against Iran and had later invaded Kuwait. In retrospect, it appears to have been a good idea to rid the region of this destabilizing entity.

What was not anticipated, however, was the even greater destabilizing factor of fundamentalist Islam as personified by al Qaeda and the Taliban. It currently threatens the government of Pakistan. Until the entire world takes the Islamic jihad seriously and takes steps to tamp it down, “events” in the Middle East and elsewhere are going to continue to challenge peace everywhere.

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina wreaked so much destruction over such a wide swath of Gulf States that surely no President could have anticipated it and clearly the federal government encountered levels of incompetence in Louisiana that were unforgivable.

Occurring while the Iraq war gave little evidence of a successful outcome meant that these two events rendered blows to Bush’s presidency from which it would never fully recover. The coup de grace came late into the last weeks of his presidency when the sub-prime mortgage crisis was precipitated by a run on U.S. banks that has not been fully reported upon to this day.

At this point President Obama has not been tested except by the appearance of incompetence among those he has chosen for his cabinet and as his White House advisors. They are generally ideologues and often radical in their views. The most reputable among them and the most welcome is literally a holdover from the Bush administration, Robert Gates as the Secretary of Defense. Other than Gates, the Obama administration is a re-run of the Clinton administration with none other than the former First Lady as Secretary of State. How bizarre is that?

The President’s primary response to the banking/housing crisis, the problems facing elements of the U.S. auto industry, and even the outbreak of swine flu has been to literally throw billions of dollars at them.

No one, other than Republicans, appears to be asking where this money is going to come from without drastically raising taxes; the worst option in a recession or depression. That leaves borrowing and even China has voiced concerns about its continuing investment in U.S. treasury notes.

Beyond borrowing and spending money, there are the unknown, frequently unpredictable, and often grievous “events” that lie in wait for this President.

The fall of the Pakistani government to the Taliban could literally set off a third world war. Attacks on U.S. cities would create panic and demands for retaliation. A sudden surge of illegal immigration from Mexico if its government collapsed or was unable to cope with the flu outbreak has already initiated demands to close the 2,000 mile border. Some close observers already regard Mexico as a failed state.

The pressures on a Democrat administration that wants to reduce the investment in the nation’s military, that wants to create a more open border immigration and an amnesty policy, that has launched a charm offensive with enemies such as Iran, that wants to impose a nationalized healthcare system, all could and would be derailed by “events.”

History records that it was only World War II and the mobilization of America that finally got the nation out of a decade-long depression, despite and often because of every effort made by the Roosevelt administration.

President Obama will discover what his predecessors did. There is no way to prepare for events that change public opinion overnight. There are only the time tested responses. That requires pragmatism, not idealism.

This President is going to be tested and, if his past is any indication, when events occur the choices he will have to make will likely prove unpalatable.

6 comments:

Brian G Valentine said...

There's no reason for terrorists to hate the US any more, is there?

What's there to hate? Now that Obama has apologized to a pile of Communists for offending them in the past by calling them dictators, now that the US has apologized for the presence of CO2 in the air and possibly making somebody's weather not to their liking, now that the Obama government is moving toward making the USA a totalitarian regime state,

- what hell could possibly anger anybody now?

Alan Caruba said...

Some nations, Brian, are actually enjoying watching the U.S. in difficulty. The bankruptcy news today (and the one that's coming for GM) was an occasion for celebration by those who hate capitalism, freedom, et cetera.

No wonder Hugo Chavez wants to be Obama's friend. He knows a fellow traveler when he sees one.

Brian G Valentine said...

Defending Freedom is no easy task - not for soldier, not for statesman, not for citizen.

I worked for the US Government for two years in Iraq to help them get back on their feet.

It isn't as dangerous here as it was there - but all I can do - all anybody can do - is to keep on working in the same way to maintain a free USA.

Mr and Mrs Citizen: Don't accept ANYTHING that relates to "reduce greenhouse gases" or anything of the sort. The idea is all wrong, and don’t swallow a half teaspoon of that junk science because the only people who want you to do that are people who want to control you.

Period.

Carolyn said...

Hi Mr. Caruba- you know, one thing I always thought about Obama, ever since he started running for president about 8 years ago. He seemed and still does to be a very full of pride and somewhat pompous. I know not all readers are Christian, but I can't help but think of the proverb- Pride goes before a fall. Only problem is, when he falls- the rest of us will be squished. I totally understand when you say to be patient and watch though! God Bless.

Alan Caruba said...

Carolyn, my take on Obama is that he is a narcissist and, as such, is able to justify anything he says or does to himself.

Jesse said...

Carolyn
If you believe that you will be squished in this obamations administration is there anything you're doing to prepare yourself?
If my history serves me right, the foremost an enemy attempts to do to destroy a nation is to lay waste to their economy.
Obama is single handling destroying our economy by this stimulus package more than any of our enemies could do.
Often I wonder if he ever read a history book or is he so prideful that in his arrogance he doesn't believe the saying that "history repeats itself".
I have a deep feeling we are on the verge of something very very bad.
He promised change. But, I think his change we can live without.