The impact of the financial crisis on the American presidential election has somewhat obscured the most important reason why the prospect of an Obama presidency is giving so many people nightmares. This is the fear that, if he wins, US defences will be emasculated at a time of unprecedented international peril and the enemies of America and the free world will seize their opportunity to destroy the west. ~Melanie Phillips
Translation: there are people who are baselessly afraid about caricatures of an Obama administration that they have invented, and their dangerous fearmongering about the present international scene has made them lose all sense of perspective such that they think their world is about to be destroyed.
Let’s take this step by step. Obama does not propose to weaken American defenses or reduce expenditures on defense, but rather proposes to increase them. He does propose some gradual reduction in troop levels in Iraq with the aim of ending a war that has done more to emasculate American defenses and undermine American security than any other policy of at least the last decade. International peril is not at unprecedented levels. There have been any number of times before, during and after WWII when international peril has been much, much greater, so claims of unprecedented peril are just simply false. Short of a full-scale nuclear exchange with the Russians, which is not at all likely, the West is not going to be destroyed by anyone, unless we do it to ourselves through more senseless conflicts, mismanagement and excess. There are serious threats and some real enemies, but none of our real enemies possesses the ability to destroy us. Get a grip.
The danger of an Obama Presidency is almost exactly the opposite of what Phillips fears, and this is that he proves to be far too conventional and willing to go along with misguided establishment views on Iran, Russia and any number of other parts of the world, and that he is far too willing to use force when it is not needed in pursuit of objectives that have nothing do with the American interest. One of the problems with the increasingly outlandish warnings about Obama the super-dove is that, in addition to being laughably false, it makes it even harder to organize resistance to the Obama administration when it finally does try to embark on some foolish foreign adventure. In the post-Cold War era in which every administration has ordered at least one new major military intervention and usually more than one, this seems to be not a question of if but of when and where. The people worried about the second coming of Carter ought instead of be more concerned about an administration more like LBJ’s, in which we would all probably agree that an excess of hawkishness rather than the lack of it was the central flaw.
P.S. I would add that Jim Lobe’s report on Obama adviors’ views on Iran, taken in conjunction with Biden’s warnings to that Seattle progressive fundraiser about a coming international crisis, points toward the kind of scenario that I proposed earlier in the week.