Amer­ica’s re­treat from su­per­power sta­tus

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

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.

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