Speaking of people who probably cannot understand Powell’s endorsement, Ralph Peters offers us this gem:
Pandering to his extreme base, Obama has projected an image of being soft on terror.
Projected it to whom? When was all this pandering? What has he actually done that would lead any observer–even one who wrongly defines opposition to illegal surveillance powers as evidence of “weakness”–to come to this conclusion? Peters continues:
The Pakistanis think Obama would lose Afghanistan – and they believe they can reap the subsequent whirlwind.
Suppose that the Pakistanis do think this. Maybe some of them do. Why would they think this, and more important why should Americans assume that this is the correct reading? There are two unstated assumptions in this claim: 1) that McCain or someone pursuing an alternative course of action would not lose Afghanistan, meaning that this would only happen on Obama’s watch, and 2) that Obama’s position on Afghanistan/Pakistan is somehow not as equally hawkish as the current administration’s. Arguably, this more hawkish position might very well lead to disaster in Pakistan or end up undermining the NATO mission in Afghanistan, but if that is the case our current policy is equally misguided and yet comes in for no criticism.
He goes on:
In the Middle East, Obama’s election would be read as the end of staunch US support for Israel.
Maybe, if everyone in the region is as clueless as Obama’s domestic critics (this would be difficult), but why exactly would that be the case? Again, what has Obama said or done that would give anyone this impression? This is the flip side of the equally implausible “Obama’s election will cause Muslims everywhere to love the U.S. government”–a view foolishly promoted by his own supporters–and it is no more likely to be proven correct. Both misreadings rely on the idea that Middle Eastern governments and publics base their hostility/lack of hostility to the United States on superficial, symbolic things rather than actual U.S. policies. If only we change the appearance or the name of the President, everyone will respond accordingly! This is completely and in all ways wrong.
Peters prophesies some more:
Backed by Syria and Iran, Hezbollah would provoke another, far-bloodier war with Israel.
Perhaps, perhaps not. If this happens, Obama will support Israel just as full-throatedly and unequivocally as he did in 2006 during the last war. Who knows–he could very well back Israeli actions with direct U.S. military support, depending on the circumstances. It is amazing to me that virtually no one in either party ever talks about Obama’s support for Israeli actions in the Second Lebanon War. He was not alone in this, of course, as this was the default, almost universal position for members of Congress, but there is no question that it was his position. I suppose it is more convenient for certain antiwar progressives and Obama’s Republican critics alike to ignore this evidence that their hopes/fears concerning Obama are false.
Peters keeps hallucinating:
Russia’s new czar, Vladimir Putin, intends to gobble Ukraine next year, assured that NATO will be divided and the US can be derided.
This is highly unlikely to happen. Unlike the short, swift incursion into Georgia, “gobbling up” Ukraine or even lending support to Crimean separatists would be a much larger, riskier and potentially more disastrous proposition for Russia. Give Peters propaganda points for denouncing Timoshenko, once the socialist beehive-bedooed hero of American interventionists everywhere when she was on the Orange Revolution bandwagon, for charting a moderately less anti-Moscow path. More to the point, were this to happen, there is every reason to think that Obama and Joe “Expand NATO to the Pacific” Biden would respond to it just as counterproductively than Mr. Bush would were he still in office. How’s that for a vote of confidence?
Hugo Chavez will intensify the rape of his country’s hemorrhaging democracy and, despite any drop in oil revenue, he’ll do all he can to export his megalomaniacal version of gun-barrel socialism.
Well, I suppose he will, and he will keep failing as he has been failing for the last several years. Meanwhile, Chavez’s own weakness at home makes him increasingly irrelevant.
This one takes the cake for its silliness:
Chavez client President Evo Morales could order his military to seize control of his country’s dissident eastern provinces, whose citizens resist his repression, extortion and semi-literate Leninism. President Obama would do nothing as yet another democracy toppled and bled.
The Bolivian government is a democratic government in all its demagogic socialist glory. What Peters is accusing Obama of doing before the fact is failing to intervene against the democratically-elected government of Bolivia (to use the phrasing that pan-Kartvelian pundits prefer) in the domestic political affairs of an extremely poor, strategically insignificant country. In other words, he says that Obama will be a responsible President who won’t waste American resources on sideshow internal conflicts where U.S. interests are scarcely involved. Peters really has him on the ropes now!
Peters just keeps on making things up (why stop at this point?):
An Obama administration will abandon our only true allies [the Kurds] between Tel Aviv and Tokyo.
Abandon them to whom? What is he talking about? Incidentally, I wonder what the Indians think of being written off as less than a true ally of the United States. I guess that nuclear deal was all a figment of our collective imagination.
Around the world, regressive regimes will intensify their suppression – and outright murder – of dissidents who risk their lives for freedom and justice. An Obama administration will say all the right things, but do nothing.
And how that would be a change from how things are now exactly? On the contrary, if Obama is even remotely serious in what he was saying about Burma and Zimbabwe in his Berlin speech we should be more concerned that Obama will start doing all kinds of things in this area and adding to our already excessively long list of commitments.
Obviously, there is no substance to Peters’ criticisms of Obama, but what is worrisome is that Obama, already perfectly hawkish and interventionist on his own, will feel compelled to take even harder lines and be even more confrontational than he would otherwise be in order to demonstrate that he is not the weak, accommodating President that Peters et al. are making him out to be. Having learned nothing from the Bush years, these critics may box Obama in and lead him to take positions that are more aggressive even than those of Mr. Bush to secure his “credibility” on national security. If Obama simply ignores these critics and pulls back from more hard-line stances when appropriate, then he may still be wrong on many things but he will have earned some genuine credibility.