Delusionary Thinking in Washington, The Desperate Plight of a Declining Superpower - What is a declining superpower to do in the face of widespread defiance?
Take a look around the world and it’s hard not to conclude that the United States is a superpower in decline. Whether in Europe, Asia, or the Middle East, aspiring powers are flexing their muscles, ignoring Washington’s dictates, or actively combating them. Russia refuses to curtail its support for armed separatists in Ukraine; China refuses to abandon its base-building endeavors in the South China Sea; Saudi Arabia refuses to endorse the U.S.-brokered nuclear deal with Iran; the Islamic State movement (ISIS) refuses to capitulate in the face of U.S. airpower. What is a declining superpower supposed to do in the face of such defiance?
This is no small matter. For decades, being a superpower has been the defining characteristic of American identity. The embrace of global supremacy began after World War II when the United States assumed responsibility for resisting Soviet expansionism around the world; it persisted through the Cold War era and only grew after the implosion of the Soviet Union, when the U.S. assumed sole responsibility for combating a whole new array of international threats. As General Colin Powell famously exclaimed in the final days of the Soviet era, “We have to put a shingle outside our door saying, ‘Superpower Lives Here,’ no matter what the Soviets do, even if they evacuate from Eastern Europe.”
[Laugh all you want about a superpower. Just consider your life as an East German under the Russians. A South Korea under the rule of the crazy dictators in the North? Or Cambodia – whoops, we pulled out and gave them a political victory and millions were slaughtered.]
Imperial Overstretch Hits Washington
Strategically, in the Cold War years, Washington’s power brokers assumed that there would always be two superpowers perpetually battling for world dominance. In the wake of the utterly unexpected Soviet collapse, American strategists began to envision a world of just one, of a “sole superpower” (aka Rome on the Potomac). In line with this new outlook, the administration of George H.W. Bush soon adopted a long-range plan intended to preserve that status indefinitely. Known as the Defense Planning Guidance for Fiscal Years 1994-99, it declared: “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union.”
[Without the United States as a force for good, America and the rest of the world is screwed. Who will stand up to the people who want to enslave you?]
H.W.’s son, then the governor of Texas, articulated a similar vision of a globally encompassing Pax Americana when campaigning for president in 1999. If elected, he told military cadets at the Citadel in Charleston, his top goal would be “to take advantage of a tremendous opportunity -- given few nations in history -- to extend the current peace into the far realm of the future. A chance to project America’s peaceful influence not just across the world, but across the years.”
For Bush, of course, “extending the peace” would turn out to mean invading Iraq and igniting a devastating regional conflagration that only continues to grow and spread to this day. Even after it began, he did not doubt -- nor (despite the reputed wisdom offered by hindsight) does he today -- that this was the price that had to be paid for the U.S. to retain its vaunted status as the world’s sole superpower.
[At the core of most progressive socialist democrat complaints is an attempt at misdirection: “Blame it on Bush.”
If the progressives were intellectually honest, they would acknowledge two facts: one, we were wrong to invade Iraq and try to bring freedom to what is a tribal society; and two, almost everyone, including republicans, democrats, other world leaders, believed the same faulty intelligence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was prepared to use them. Literally true if you include chemical weapons which were used to kill and injured thousands of Kurds at Halabja.
And, at one point in time, Iraq was somewhat under control with Vice President Joe Biden hailing that country as one of President Obama's "great achievements. That is, until the feckless and incompetent Barack Hussein Obama decided that he would remove American troops from Iraq to fulfill a domestic campaign pledge, thus leaving a power vacuum that was filled by warlords and Iranian Shia soldiers.]
The problem, as many mainstream observers now acknowledge, is that such a strategy aimed at perpetuating U.S. global supremacy at all costs was always destined to result in what Yale historian Paul Kennedy, in his classic book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, unforgettably termed “imperial overstretch.” As he presciently wrote in that 1987 study, it would arise from a situation in which “the sum total of the United States’ global interests and obligations is… far larger than the country’s power to defend all of them simultaneously.”
[Excuse me! Years of denigrating and downgrading America’s military is the sole purview of the progressive socialist democrats; many of whom believe that American colonialism is one of the root causes for the world ills. Failing to note a 1,200-year religious war between the Sunni majority and the Shia minority that has nothing to do with America, its principles, or its political activities.
Again, if we were being intellectually honest, we would see that former President Jimmy Carter, a bungling and ineffective leader, became the father of the type of Iranian Islamo-fascism that faces us all today when he failed to support an American ally and sided with a radical Imam named Ayatollah Khomeini. And, no so coincidently, do we find a current President, Barack Hussein Obama, bowing to the will of another Ayatollah, Ayatollah Khamenei, as he pursues his nuclear agenda.]
Indeed, Washington finds itself in exactly that dilemma today. What’s curious, however, is just how quickly such overstretch engulfed a country that, barely a decade ago, was being hailed as the planet’s first “hyperpower,” a status even more exalted than superpower. But that was before George W.’s miscalculation in Iraq and other missteps left the U.S. to face a war-ravaged Middle East with an exhausted military and a depleted treasury. At the same time, major and regional powers like China, India, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have been building up their economic and military capabilities and, recognizing the weakness that accompanies imperial overstretch, are beginning to challenge U.S. dominance in many areas of the globe. The Obama administration has been trying, in one fashion or another, to respond in all of those areas -- among them Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the South China Sea -- but without, it turns out, the capacity to prevail in any of them.
[Has anyone else noticed that President Obama has replaced competent military leaders with politically correct progressive lickspittles and toadies? Has anyone noticed that our rules of engagement are designed to disadvantage our military and convey an advantage to our enemies – by preventing civilian casualties; even knowing that our enemies hide behind women and children to create propaganda wins and to play on our weaknesses. When the enemy uses schools, mosques, and hospitals to stage or launch weapons, they have signed their own death warrants. America no longer fights to win – but to provide the President with a photo-op and talking points.]
Nonetheless, despite a range of setbacks, no one in Washington’s power elite -- Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders being the exceptions that prove the rule -- seems to have the slightest urge to abandon the role of sole superpower or even to back off it in any significant way. President Obama, who is clearly all too aware of the country’s strategic limitations, has been typical in his unwillingness to retreat from such a supremacist vision. “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation,” he told graduating cadets at West Point in May 2014. “That has been true for the century past and it will be true for the century to come.”
[You have lost the argument when you cite a socialist (Sanders) and a small-time grifter (Paul) as exceptions that prove the rule. Sanders would surrender America to the socialists and Rand would bury his head in the sand until the time the Muslims came to chop it off. Russia and China would like nothing better for America to back off and let them have their way with their respective regions. Who would believe the claptrap that Obama is unwilling to retreat from a supremacist vision when he continues to weaken the military, refuses to win wars, and above all, apologizes for America’s past bad behavior.]
How, then, to reconcile the reality of superpower overreach and decline with an unbending commitment to global supremacy?
[First, it is a flawed assumption that America is guilty of superpower overreach when the truth is that America is guilty of electing a President who is not a leader. A community organizer who seeks consensus. A lazy community organizer who allows others to act in his stead, soaking up the credit if things work out, and expressing shock – shock I tell you – if something goes wrong. This is the man who lies. Lies about reading about problems in the daily news when we know he gets a PDB (Presidential Daily Brief). And, then proceeds to throw and underling under the bus; until the media is no longer interested and they reappear in another position.]
The first of two approaches to this conundrum in Washington might be thought of as a high-wire circus act. It involves the constant juggling of America’s capabilities and commitments, with its limited resources (largely of a military nature) being rushed relatively fruitlessly from one place to another in response to unfolding crises, even as attempts are made to avoid yet more and deeper entanglements. This, in practice, has been the strategy pursued by the current administration. Call it the Obama Doctrine.
[This is a lie. The progressives hope you will confuse movement with action. Like sending Hillary Clinton to visit world leaders and claim that it is diplomacy. America, under Barack Obama, does not want to extend its military might to decisively take action. How many people remember when ISIS was relatively small and massed in a few concentrated locations. A single B-52 raid staged from Diego Garcia with conventional weapons would have solved that problem? Or how many people remember Obama’s red line in Syria – which when breached, opened the door to further aggressive actions by our enemies?]
After concluding, for instance, that China had taken advantage of U.S. entanglement in Iraq and Afghanistan to advance its own strategic interests in Southeast Asia, Obama and his top advisers decided to downgrade the U.S. presence in the Middle East and free up resources for a more robust one in the western Pacific. Announcing this shift in 2011 -- it would first be called a “pivot to Asia” and then a “rebalancing” there -- the president made no secret of the juggling act involved.
[Can it be the progressive socialist democrats are attacking Obama or is this just another one of those misguided misdirections to gin up the appearance of opposition?]
“After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region,” he told members of the Australian Parliament that November. “As we end today’s wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority. As a result, reductions in U.S. defense spending will not -- I repeat, will not -- come at the expense of the Asia Pacific.”
[Who the hell believes this liar? Here is a President who fetes our enemies and disadvantages our allies. Even our staunchest allies do not believe anything he says as they prepare to take action independent of the United States. Including, but not limited to, Saudi Arabia acquiring nuclear capabilities. His national security team? You mean the liars who lied about Benghazi and see everything through the prism of domestic politics? The people who have no experience with the military and are directing battles from the White House.]
<snip – to read the entire piece in full and in context, click on the link below>
Time to Stop Pretending
Back, then, to our original question: What is a declining superpower supposed to do in the face of this predicament?
Anywhere but in Washington, the obvious answer would for it to stop pretending to be what it’s not. The first step in any 12-step imperial-overstretch recovery program would involve accepting the fact that American power is limited and global rule an impossible fantasy. Accepted as well would have to be this obvious reality: like it or not, the U.S. shares the planet with a coterie of other major powers -- none as strong as we are, but none so weak as to be intimidated by the threat of U.S. military intervention. Having absorbed a more realistic assessment of American power, Washington would then have to focus on how exactly to cohabit with such powers -- Russia, China, and Iran among them -- and manage its differences with them without igniting yet more disastrous regional firestorms.
[Can you say surrender? Turning America into the progressive socialist democrat’s wet dream: France!]
If strategic juggling and massive denial were not so embedded in the political life of this country’s “war capital,” this would not be an impossibly difficult strategy to pursue, as others have suggested. In 2010, for example, Christopher Layne of the George H.W. Bush School at Texas A&M argued in the American Conservative that the U.S. could no longer sustain its global superpower status and, “rather than having this adjustment forced upon it suddenly by a major crisis… should get ahead of the curve by shifting its position in a gradual, orderly fashion.” Layne and others have spelled out what this might entail: fewer military entanglements abroad, a diminishing urge to garrison the planet, reduced military spending, greater reliance on allies, more funds to use at home in rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of a divided society, and a diminished military footprint in the Middle East.
[I am tired of hearing progressives talk about reducing military spending and repairing our crumbling infrastructure. As we saw with the Jobs Stimulus plan, the money went to support progressive local governments and their unions. As we can plainly see, the infrastructure in the inner cities, governed for decades by progressives remain cesspools of decay, disease, poverty, illiteracy, and crime. Will billions siphoned off by corrupt politicians and their special interests. Making America more vulnerable and allowing the kleptocracy to govern is absolutely crazy.
Other than Israel, to which we have a moral and humanitarian duty, there is nothing in the Middle East except chaos caused by a wayward religion founded by a pedophile warlord to expand his fiefdom. To the extent that the ignorant were kept ignorant and the others chose not fight for reform, there is little doubt that Islam is the religion of peace and is tolerant of other religious viewpoints. Hell, they can’t even get past a convention of cartoonists without rioting and killing.]
But for any of this to happen, American policymakers would first have to abandon the pretense that the United States remains the sole global superpower -- and that may be too bitter a pill for the present American psyche (and for the political aspirations of certain Republican candidates) to swallow. From such denialism, it’s already clear, will only come further ill-conceived military adventures abroad and, sooner or later, under far grimmer circumstances, an American reckoning with reality.
[What Americans need to realize is that we have to abandon the pretense that President Barack Obama is a leader who truly believes in American exceptionalism and that his cadre of progressive socialist democrats is not a fifth column seeking to destroy America from within and replace capitalism with socialism or communism. Isn’t that what he was taught by his communist father, his communist mentor Frank Marshall, and his spiritual mentor Reverend Jeremiah Wright?]
Delusionary Thinking in Washington, The Desperate Plight of a Declining Superpower | Alternet
A President Romney … or even a President McCain would have been better for America that President Obama. Think back, what the hell have the progressives given us with Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama? Bush the Elder may have been an elitist weakling and Bush the Younger a crony capitalist – but you could not openly question their patriotism and love of country. They knew about military matters. They knew about fighting for America. Not so President Obama who is destroying our domestic life with his illegal immigration program; our economy with his global warming rules and regulations; and now our ability to defend ourselves with military downsizing and his reluctance to win a war.
The progressive socialist democrats have damaged and nearly destroyed America. Whether their evil design is allowed to continue is a function of voter apathy and the ability of the progressives to convince Americans to choose color over competence and sex over substance.
We are so screwed.