America’s retreat from superpower status
America is no longer a superpower. Led by President Obama, its retreat on the world stage has been sudden, swift and stunning. His administration is actively pursuing a foreign policy of detente and self-abnegation. Washington no longer wants — or believes it is possible — to remain the last, sole hyperpower. “In an era where our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game,” Mr. Obama told the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23. “No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. That is the future America wants.”
It also is the future the United Nations wants. For decades, Turtle Bay has been a major source of anti-Americanism. The majority of its member states are not genuine democracies. Rather, they are a grim collection of Third World tyrannies, socialist dictatorships and quasi-kleptocracies. They care little for human rights, democracy and peace.
The United Nations’ recent record is abysmal: the genocide in Darfur, China’s brutal repression of Tibet, Russia’s war of aggression against Georgia, Hamas’ relentless rocket attacks on Israeli towns and villages, Iran’s crack- down on pro-democracy demonstrators, Saudi Arabia’s systematic persecution of Christians and Venezuela’s efforts to spread authoritarian socialism across Latin America — all this has been met with little or no action by the international body. The United Nations is useless.
Yet, the one thing it has sought to create is a multipolar system, one in which American power is contained and, eventually, rolled back. Mr. Obama has given the United Nations what it wants: a denuded America that is voluntarily abandoning its international pre-eminence. Mr. Obama is a postmodern leftist whose goal is to transform the United States into another European Union. He does not believe in preserving our national sovereignty or distinct cultural identity. Rather, he champions social democracy; open borders; multilateralism; diplomacy; and a strong, activist United Nations. As he outlined in his speech, he seeks to subordinate America’s national interests to globalist goals such as combating climate change, ridding the world of nuclear weapons, ending poverty and achieving Middle East peace.
Mr. Obama’s approach will fail for one simple reason: It is built on fantasy. His U.N. address was a classic example of the perils of liberal utopianism. Man-made global warming is a myth; in fact, the Earth’s temperatures have been cooling during the past few years. Moreover, his cap-andtrade policies will stifle growth and job creation — as they have all across Europe. Serious nations — China, Russia, Pakistan — will never give up their nukes. The nukes are an absolute deterrent against any invasion from a rival power. The call for worldwide nuclear disarmament is more than a naive dream. It reveals a profound lack of understanding of great-power politics.
Mr. Obama is not a political Messiah. He cannot part the waters or eradicate world poverty and disease. He is striving to achieve something that has never been done in history — anywhere. This is because the natural state of humanity is poverty; it has been with us since the beginning of time. For most of the world, it has been the predominant condition. Hence, it is not poverty that needs to be understood, but the creation of wealth.
The unique achievement of the West has been to erect a capitalist system based on the rule of law and private property rights that has lifted hundreds of millions into prosperity. Unless other na- tions are willing to adopt freemarket economics, they are doomed to perpetual misery. Billions in foreign aid will not change this fundamental reality and results only in squandering precious taxpayer dollars.
Moreover, establishing an independent Palestine will not foster regional security. The withdrawal of Israel in 2005 from the Gaza Strip did not lead to a peaceful embryonic Palestinian state; rather, it led to the creation of Hamastan. Hamas is the most potent force in Palestinian society. Its radical brand of Islamic fundamentalism — with its call for the destruction of Israel, the glories of jihad and the defeat of America — are openly embraced by most Palestinians. Carving out a separate Palestinian homeland, alongside Israel, will only sow the seeds of future conflict: It is a stake aimed at the heart of the Jewish state — one that will enable Hamas, as well as other Islamist terrorists, to deliver the final death blow to the “Zionist entity.”
Mr. Obama is wrong. Power is — and always will be — a zerosum game. If the United States is weakened, then Russia and China, along with North Korea, Iran and other rogue states eagerly fill the vacuum.
In almost every corner of the globe, American strength and prestige are dwindling. The scrapping of missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic means America is abandoning Eastern Europe to Russia’s sphere of influence. The premature withdrawal of troops from Iraq is leading to a U.S. defeat. The bullying of Israel is demoralizing our staunchest ally in the Middle East. Iran is on the verge of acquiring the bomb. Communist China is buying up our soaring national debt; we are slowly becoming Beijing’s economic vassal. North Korea remains defiant. Japan is turning away from Washington. Latin America seethes with Bolivarian revolution.
Mr. Obama’s speech was wellreceived at the United Nations because it confirmed the end of the American moment. The post1945 U.S.-led world order, which represented the greatest advance of human freedom in history, is over. Mr. Obama believes it is his crowning glory. Rather, it is his shame.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington-based think tank.