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Earning the World’s Contempt

“This state visit is … a terrible mistake,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

“He is illegitimate with his own people, and Brazil is now going to give him the air of legitimacy at a time when the world is trying to figure out how to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons.”

Engel was speaking of the state visit of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that began Monday, at the invitation of President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva of Brazil.

Extending such an honor to the leader who hosted a conference of Holocaust skeptics and deniers, often predicts Israel will disappear from the map, stole his last election, and is stiffing the West on Iran’s nuclear program is clearly a poke in the eye of Barack Obama.

Nor is this the only dissing of Obama and America by Lula.

The Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa has, for two months, been host to Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, a Chavista, who was ousted by his own Supreme Court and booted out of the country by the army.

America will survive such irritants. But they are symptomatic of something larger: the mounting disrespect Obama and America are receiving from friend and adversary alike.

Under the new center-left government that broke a 50-year hold on power by the LDP, Japan will cease refueling U.S. warships off Afghanistan, is demanding renegotiation of a U.S. troop deployment deal already agreed to and is moving out of Washington’s orbit — and closer to Beijing. Pyongyang, having tested a second nuclear device, continues to dismiss all U.S. demands.

China just backhanded Obama’s request to revalue its currency to stanch the steady hemorrhaging of U.S. jobs, technology, and factories to the mainland, and treated Obama’s call for openness and better treatment for dissidents and minorities with dismissive contempt.

Yet had it not been for U.S. magnanimity in throwing open its market to Chinese goods, Beijing would never have registered the double-digit growth rates it has seen for the past two decades.

Some gratitude China is showing.

Despite U.S. warnings, President Hamid Karzai has stolen the Afghan election in a fashion so brazen as to make a mockery of U.S. claims of his legitimacy. Corruption remains pandemic, and ignored, including in Karzai’s own family. He knows we have no other option.

Iran continues to slap away Obama’s open hand, secure in the knowledge that China or Russia will veto any serious U.N. sanctions.

Israel, too, has taken the measure of Obama.

“Bibi” Netanyahu, elected on a platform of no negotiation with Hamas, no Palestinian enclave in Jerusalem and no withdrawal from the West Bank, a la Gaza, has defied Obama’s demand for an immediate halt to any and all expansion of settlements. Not only has Bibi gone unpunished, his poll ratings have soared in Israel, and Obama has capitulated completely, leaving Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas so disillusioned and demoralized he is considering not running again.

The hopes raised by Obama’s Cairo speech have disappeared, as our traditional Arab friends like the Egyptians and Saudis have been hung out to dry.

Hillary Clinton may have pressed the reset button on relations with Russia — but there has been precious little reciprocity for the U.S. decision to scrap the ballistic missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Moscow has recognized Georgia’s breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent republics and is now busy meddling in Ukraine to inflict a humiliating defeat on our man in Kiev, President Viktor Yushchenko, in January’s election.

Again, none of the above represents a grave threat to any vital U.S. interest. Nevertheless, this lack of reciprocity, this lack of respect, this indifference to what the president is demanding or even asking is revealing about the era we have now entered — and about Barack Obama.

All that bloviation we heard for two decades — about the “Second American Century,” the “End of History,” the “New World Order,” America as “omnipower” and “indispensable nation,” the “New Rome” seizing its “unipolar moment” to impose “benevolent global hegemony” on mankind and “ending tyranny in our world” — it was, all of it, bullhockey.

Second, though Obama may be liked and admired by people all over the world, this counts for next to nothing in global power politics.

Brazil, Japan, China, Russia and Israel are all countries with their own national interests that do not necessarily comport with those of the United States. All have come to see Obama as a diffident, dithering, doubting dilettante who can be dissed with impunity. And none of these nations is going to sacrifice what it considers critical to win a smile from Barack Obama.

Multilateralism and globalism are on the way out. Unilateralism and nationalism are on the way in.

As other countries look out for their national interests first, why do we not do the same?

If we Americans will not put America first, who will?

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Comments Disabled To "Earning the World’s Contempt"

#1 Comment By Kirt Higdon On November 23, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

PJB concedes that none of the things he mentions represent a grave threat to vital US interests. So what’s the problem? That the US will no longer be #1, the supreme global bully? That the US will become once again just an ordinary nation? That we will have to mind our own business because we just will not be able to be constantly interferring in the business of others? Sounds to me like all these are good things. Putting US national interest first would mean acknowledging that virtually all of these matters mentioned are no concern of ours. Is it really of even passing interest let alone concern to Americans whom Lula invites to Brazil? And shouldn’t we get rid of such absurd illusions as thinking that Americans buy Chinese goods out of magnanimity?

#2 Comment By SteveM On November 24, 2009 @ 1:24 am

Re: Kirt Higdon

Agree. Ahmadinejad comes to Brazil and then he’s gone. So what?

Obama gets dissed? Big deal. America still has its trillion dollar a year war machine always in gear.

#3 Comment By VOwens On November 24, 2009 @ 9:11 am

You guys miss the point. The United States continues to labor under the delusion that we will be respected, loved even, if only we go along to get along, but all the evidence points to the fact that other countries are going their own ways despite our suicidal tendencies. If you have read Buchanan’s columns or books, you will know he has always preached that a collection of self-interested nations frees us of the self-imposed burden of leading them, which has been the bane of true conservatism. The dismissing of our comrade-in-chief is a welcome symptom, provided we take the cue to exit the world stage. Reread Pat’s closing lines, for they are the crux of his argument:

“Multilateralism and globalism are on the way out. Unilateralism and nationalism are on the way in.
As other countries look out for their national interests first, why do we not do the same?
If we Americans will not put America first, who will?”

#4 Comment By Chris Moore On November 25, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

The liberal American elite sees itself as internationalist, and it imagines it is the envy of the world, similar to how the liberal Hollywood elite imagine that it is the envy of the peons in the American hinterlands. And in a very superficial sense, it is. But it’s a meaningless and empty position.

Sometimes the world encourages this vanity. Remember the reception Obama got in Germany? Little wonder the administration got it in its collective head that the world would roll over to its will.

But the truth of the matter is, America today is regarded the world over as the rich and vain playboy who is beloved by everyone in the bar while he’s buying their drinks, but deep down, no one really respects or takes seriously because they know he’s not a serious person.

I hate to say it, but the Baby Boomer generation of leadership, from Clinton through W through Obama and most of the pols in between, has been epically vain, flaky, naive and incompetent. Like Obama, it seems to believe that its wish is God’s command. And remember the Bush administration’s delusion?: “We’re an empire now, we create our own reality.”

These simply are not serious or responsible people. Yes, many Boomers are highly creative, and that has brought certain technological advantages to America. But the drawbacks far outweigh their contributions, and their general lack of competence and serousness has basically destroyed the country.

#5 Comment By Michael On November 25, 2009 @ 5:43 pm

We in this country have certain notions on Presidency,most of which have been fashioned by varing enviroments of our rearing.President Obama is cut from reconditioned fabric, the pattern is the same, the material is the same,that material is to bring America forward sometimes with little pain sometimes with more pain the over riding concern is advance America.

#6 Comment By Hammersmith On November 25, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

“…epically vain, flaky, naive and incompetent….”

yes, and like a 12 year old boy w/ a machine gun.

#7 Comment By Mike Tuggle On November 25, 2009 @ 7:54 pm

The problem is that it’s increasingly more difficult to define a shared national interest when this country is being colonized by differing, and often conflicting, cultures. While other nations celebrate their heritage, we’re being taught to revile ours, and to transform our country into something, anything, else.

That’s why national unity is unraveling.

#8 Comment By Laszlo On November 26, 2009 @ 1:04 am

“…epically vain, flaky, naive and incompetent….”

We were driving together with my boss two months ago, and Hillary held a speech somewhere, I can’t remember where about “democracy, freedom, human rights, progress … etc.”

My boss is over 40, I am 27. I was only 7 years old during the Velvet Revolution, but some things from the socialist era I remember (particularly the speeches of communist functionaries) quite well, so I asked him: “Hey boss, doesn’t the speech sound like it held some “comrade”, just the words like socialism, comunism, social securities were exchanged for democracy, freedom, human rights?”

He just laughted 😀

#9 Comment By Chris Moore On November 26, 2009 @ 11:17 am

“While other nations celebrate their heritage, we’re being taught to revile ours, and to transform our country into something, anything, else.”

I agree 100%, and I think this condescending attitude that patriotism and love of country and culture is somehow provincial and backward comes out of the internationalist dogma that says nationalism is a relic of the past. This profound hatred of nationalism originated on the internationalist Left (because of its own delusions of grandeur and destiny — that it and it alone held the key to the future of mankind), but today it has actually been embraced and encouraged by elements of the Right for their own greedy purposes. For example, multi national corporations and corporate advocates of open borders embrace internationalism, necessary in order to grow markets and drive down the price of labor. And of course, there was the pretentious internationalist Bushcon/Neocon scheme to “remake the Middle East,” which is yet more Marxist-think drivel.

IMO, both the elitist Left and elitist Right have become an enemy to the American national interests and the American constitution, and now worship the false God of internationalism. The irony is, so many Boomers (and really all Americans) don’t even realize it’s their own internationalist pretensions that are the cause of their current misery and are dooming America’s future.

I guess years of atheist-materialist, internationalist Marxist-think has penetrated deeply into to the psyches of the “elite” on both the Right and Left and trickled down to the masses, and today most Americans don’t even know enough to take care of their own first. Not very “sophisticated,” that. Why, even an animal has more common sense.

#10 Comment By Michael On November 27, 2009 @ 1:10 am

“China just backhanded Obama’s request to revalue its currency to stanch the steady hemorrhaging of U.S. jobs, technology, and factories to the mainland,…”

Excuse me! Can Pat not see the pointlessness of this remark? Who are shipping American jobs, factories, and technology to China? American business leaders who have no loyalty to USA chasing short-term profit! I am an Australian, and the same thing is happening in Australia.

Either this is happening by design, then no amount of complaining is justified, or by stupidity and greed, in that case why the governments are not acting to halt this self-defeating outcome. They may not control what China does, but surely they should be able to control what businesses do in their own countries.

#11 Comment By Bigmo On November 27, 2009 @ 10:09 am

But should we not balme the neocons and Bush for Obama’s weakness? Maybe he is doing damage control, who knows. But I wouldn’t get carried away with these initial weaknesses. If anything the economic crisis reminded everyone that a healthy America is a healthy world.

Whether they like it or not, everyone has to ensure America remains the power it is.

Liberals generally have a foreign policy crisis and they lack a coherent foreign policy agenda except do the exact opposite of what the conservatives do.

#12 Comment By Laszlo On November 27, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

“Whether they like it or not, everyone has to ensure America remains the power it is.

Liberals generally have a foreign policy crisis and they lack a coherent foreign policy agenda except do the exact opposite of what the conservatives do.”

Well no, I disagree. From my perspective (that is of a citizen of small backwatter state somewhere in central Europe) there is basically no difference in what the US is doing. Maybe the republicans are a bit more “gun crazies” than the democrats, but the goals remain the same. Obama tries to reach them together with his allies, Bush would insist on a more unilateral aproach, but neither of them would withdraw from Afganistan – the catching of Bin Laden and the entire conflict in the Middle East has become a question of national prestige – “What would the world say, how would we look into the faces of our citizens if we came back with just empty hands and a few thousand coffins?”

I personally don’t think, that the US will remain the dominant superpower in the coming decades. The US (and the other nations of the West) consume more goods than they produce, but in order to maintain their living standards they become indebted. It is very easy to get credit, as long as the US Dollar is the reserve currency of the world, but it looks like the other powers of the world try to challenge the supreme rule of the dollar and sooner or later they will succeed.

#13 Comment By Louis2 On December 1, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

The only place Obama seems to want to project power is on healthcare and immigration which is at the very least laughable because both are contrary to our national interest. Immigration feeds both taxes, social programs, unemployment and terrorism. Things we can ill afford. Healthcare while important, particularly with rampant unemployment, should have been fixed at the medicare, medicaid, drug coverage and social security levels first before expansion.

But getting down to Russia, Europe, Japan, China, Brazil, Iran and Israel. Russia sees its future increasingly aligned with Germany and keeping warm relationship with China. Russia is merely annoyed with the US in its backyard. Spending to much time on Russia is a wasted US interest. Europe is dying a slow death of low birthrates and high islamic immigration that it is unable to stop…increasingly sees its EU defenses with British and French nukes and Russian resources than the US.

Japan is the real shocker…distancing itself from the US is a shift in the entire asian power alliance toward china and is going to have repurcussions for US defenses and ability to project power on issues like North Korea but I suspect that is the reason we are losing Japan and South Korea. They finally saw the cards…the US was using Japan & South Korea for influence but after selling out Taiwan to China and demonstrating the US would not defend it…the ramifications were whether the US would declare war to defend Japan and South Korea…and the test was the incompetent and powerless approach to North Korean nukes and missiles as we focus on Iran for Israel. CONGRATULATIONS WE ARE LOSING JAPAN BECAUSE OF OUR CONSTANT FOCUS ON ISRAEL AND IRAN.

And now to China, Japan, South Korea…major asian exporters to the US who refuse to stop manipulating their currencies and engage in free trade as the US has rampant unemployment…which signals the further hollowing out of all private sector manufacturing and technology jobs in the US that do not relate to healthy industries connected to the government (ie banking and finance through the fed, military and defense industry, healthcare and agriculture). A first world power cannot survive fiscally, technologically, militarily or financially with such a house of cards with the missing key supports missing.

The US is in a multi-polar world and Obama has not transitioned the US into it but compared to his predecessor BUSHII has created a power vacuum that every 2nd tier nation is rising to its new level of influence.

And what is Obama focusing on: immigration, healthcare, energy and transportation and foreign wars. All signs of incompetent corporate dominated neocommunist party politics…same BUSHII focused on incompetent corporate dominated neconervative politics.

PAT BUCHANAN IS AGAIN RIGHT ON THE MONEY. NO THE US IS NOT AND SHOULD NOT BE LOOKING FOR EMPIRE AND FRANKLY ITS TIME FOR THE EU TO STEP UP TO ITS NATIONAL SECURITY RESPONSIBILITIES DOMESTICALLY AND IN NORTH AFRICA AND WITH RUSSIA, ITS ALSO TIME FOR JAPAN TO STEP UP TO ITS SHARE OF RESPONSIBILITIES IN NORTH EAST ASIA.

HOWEVER…THERE IS NO SIGN OF ANY NATIONALISM TO MATCH THE NEW GLOBAL ORDER THAT OBAMA HAS NOW SET INTO MOTION. WE NO LONGER NEED IMMIGRATION FOR OUR SHRINKING MANUFACTURING AND SERVICE SECTORS, WE NO LONGER NEED BASES ALL OVER THE WORLD OR PROXY WARS FOR EVERY NATION, WE NO LONGER NEED FREE TRADE WITH THE WORLD.

THE KEY WORDS THAT THE PAT BUCHANAN HAS NOT PICKED UP ON IS SELF SUFFICIENCY AND NATIONALISTIC INDEPENDENCE. IN OTHER WORDS, A RETURN TO AN EISENHOWER LIKE 1950S WHERE THE US WAS ENERGY INDEPENDENT, OUR PRIORITIES WERE NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE IN POWER GENERATION, POWER DISTRIBUTION, RAIL&LIGHT RAIL&TROLLEY&AIR&HIGWAY TRANSPORTATION, TECHNOLOGY AND MANUFACTURING/SERVICES.

ONE LAST THING…THE PEOPLE THAT ARE TURNING ON THE GOVERNMENT…ARE NOT THREATS OR TRAITORS…INSTEAD THEY ARE AIMING AT THE LARGE CIVIL SERVICE UNION CONTRACTS AND MILITARY CONTRACTS THAT ARE BANKRUPTING MOST STATES IN THE UNION…PARTICULARLY THE MOST LIBERAL LEANING STATES IN THE UNION….DEMOCRATS DONT SEE THE RUG UNDER THEIR FEET IS UNRAVELING…AND ONE NEED LOOK NO FURTHER THAN THE RON PAUL MOVEMENT FOR THE ANTI-GOLDMAN SACHS-FED ALLIANCE THAT PEOPLE NO BLAME FOR THE REPEATED CYCLE OF CRASHES, REPEATED CYCLES OF CORRUPTION AND LONG DECLINE IN LIVING STANDARDS.