If this is peace, why fear war?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRU­DEN Wes­ley Pru­den is edi­tor in chief emer­i­tus of The Times.

Barack Obama will soon be gone, ban­ished to a smaller house down the street from the mosque, and peace, alas, will not be upon him. The anti-war pres­i­dent leaves be­hind a world with more war than it had when he first moved into the White House.

Mr. Obama had hardly got his socks-and-un­der-wear drawer or­ga­nized when he got a call from Oslo that he had won the No­bel Peace Prize. He told his speech­writ­ers to write a speech rec­og­niz­ing, in a nice way, that the award was the work of giddy European in­tel­lec­tu­als who had re­duced the No­bel Prize to some­thing like one of those of­fers of a week­end in Florida to any­one who would sit still for a pitch for con­do­minium shares.

No­body thought the award had much to do with peace, and ev­ery­one agreed that Mr. Obama cer­tainly didn’t de­serve the prize, cheapened as it had be­come by pol­i­tics. Nearly eight years later the pres­i­dent has be­come some­thing of a maker of war, not peace, which is the usual lot of any man or woman elected, like it or not, leader of the world.

“I don’t think he would have been in the spec­u­la­tion of the No­bel com­mit­tee now, in 2016, even if he had not al­ready won [be­fore],” Kris­tian Berg Harpviken, di­rec­tor of the Peace Re­search In­sti­tute of Oslo and a close watcher of the machi­na­tions of the No­bel com­mit­tee, tells the As­so­ci­ated Press. “Obama has been stuck in the old par­a­digm,” he says.

In­deed, it’s those naughty old par­a­digms that even­tu­ally make ev­ery pres­i­dent mis­er­able. Mr. Obama con­soled him­self by blam­ing ev­ery­thing on Ge­orge W. Bush un­til re­al­ity over­took him.

The world is a far more dan­ger­ous place now. Rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism, which the pres­i­dent still dares not call by its name, has be­come the new nor­mal ev­ery­where, grue­some death of in­no­cents in the name of a prophet dead for cen­turies. The world hasn’t measured so many deaths in bat­tle since the end of the Viet­nam War, and refugees from war and ter­ror­ism have washed over Europe in num­bers to re­make the map, and threaten now to over­whelm the cul­ture in Amer­ica. If, in the words of the Statler Broth­ers, “life gets com­pli­cated when you get past 18,” life gets im­pos­si­ble for pres­i­dents once they get to 1600 Pennsylvania Av­enue. Don­ald Trump and Hil­lary Clinton, be­ware.

Mr. Obama has still not learned the les­son taught by the poet Bobby Burns, to see him­self as oth­ers see him, a pres­i­dent en­gaged in more wars big and small than his pre­de­ces­sor. He should apol­o­gize to Ge­orge W. He has pulled more than 100,000 sol­diers out of Iraq, en­abling the suc­cess of ISIS in tak­ing vast ter­ri­tory for its so-called Is­lamic State, and now he has to be­gin the painful and em­bar­rass­ing task of send­ing some of them back. He ab­hors con­ven­tional war, but dis­patches drones to kill the guilty and in­no­cent alike.

He as­sisted in the in­ven­tion of a cri­sis over “cli­mate change,” as if the cli­mate hasn’t been chang­ing since the first thun­der­storm ru­ined Eve’s gar­den party in Eden. He re­warded Fidel Cas­tro and the old men of the Cuban revo­lu­tion, ea­ger for the com­forts of cap­i­tal­ism as they lie dy­ing, but he is un­able to do any­thing but draw imag­i­nary red lines in the sand, like a child with his color­ing book, to pre­vent the de­struc­tion of the Syr­i­ans.

But the pres­i­dent’s peace-mak­ing legacy will be the sweet­heart deal he made with the mul­lahs in Iran, pre­serv­ing their dream of an Is­lamic bomb, which the mul­lahs prom­ise to use to make a se­cond Holo­caust of Israel. Mr. Obama said in 2012 that he would give the mul­lahs an op­por­tu­nity to “take the diplo­matic route and end their nu­clear pro­gram” or face an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent with lots of op­tions. The world learned that the op­tions were a stream of con­ces­sions to keep the Ira­nian nu­clear-weapons pro­gram alive and on the way to the bomb.

Hil­lary Clinton goes along with the pres­i­dent’s cyn­i­cal as­sur­ance that against emerg­ing ev­i­dence he has halted the devel­op­ment of the Ira­nian bomb. We saw the Demo­cratic cel­e­bra­tion of the myth in this week’s de­bate be­tween Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.

Mr. Kaine, try­ing to re­as­sure with his Howdy-Doody smile and happy talk, said three times that the Ira­nian nu­clear-weapons pro­gram had been “stopped” or “capped.” He di­vided the “credit” be­tween Mr. Obama and his ne­go­ti­at­ing skill and Hil­lary’s per­for­mance as sec­re­tary of State.

Whether man­u­fac­tur­ing peace or dis­arm­ing Is­lamic ter­ror, Barack Obama and his pro­tege have demon­strated in­com­pe­tence all but unique in the his­tory of the Amer­i­can pres­i­dency. And Hil­lary Clinton wants Amer­ica to re­ward the in­com­pe­tence with four more years.

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