In an impromptu conversation with Joe the Plumber during the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama famously acknowledged his support for redistributing the nation’s wealth. He has been hard at it ever since gaining the White House.
President Obama has yet to cop to another, arguably even more radical agenda: redistributing the nation’s power. We are nonetheless beginning to witness the poisonous fruits of his efforts to enhance the relative might of America’s adversaries while degrading our own. Call it Mr. Obama’s global makeover.
The most obvious example is in the Middle East, where each day brings fresh evidence of how the Obama administration’s disastrous policy of embracing Islamists is transforming and destabilizing the region. Of particular concern is the Muslim Brotherhood’s accelerating domination of the Egyptian government, which is turning the Arab world’s most populous nation — one that sits astride the strategic Suez Canal and wields a formidable, American-supplied arsenal — into a Shariah-adherent, Islamic supremacist state. This is a formula for mass repression in Egypt, war in the Middle East and increased jihadist terrorism elsewhere.
Less obvious, but potentially even more problematic, is the effect on communist China of the Obama-facilitated redistribution of power. The Chinese have not been fooled by the president’s putative strategy of “pivoting” to Asia. They understand that his administration is eviscerating American military power — a process that will become even more draconian (and perhaps substantially irreversible) as a result of Mr. Obama’s determination to impose a so-called sequestration round of a half-trillion dollars in additional cuts on a Pentagon already reeling from nearly $800 billion in previously approved reductions.
As one wag put it, the People's Republic of China views us as more of a pirouetting paper tiger than a formidable foe whose pivot represents a meaningful, strategic redeployment.
The ominous repercussions of such a perception already are beginning to manifest themselves:
Last week, police in the Chinese province of Hainan Island announced that they would stop, board, search and possibly seize vessels they deemed to be “illegally” plying areas of the South China Sea that Beijing has declared to be its sovereign territory. This could apply to as much as half the world’s oil-tanker traffic that passes through those waters.
Some observers think this may be a feint, designed to test American responses and resolve. If so, the U.S. response has been negligible and the Chinese can only be further emboldened by our irresolution to stand up to their aggressive behavior.
It hardly can be an accident that China has begun throwing its weight around in other ways as well. As David P. Goldman wrote in the Asia Times on Nov. 27 under the nom de plume “Spengler”: “It is symptomatic of the national condition of the United States that the worst humiliation ever suffered by it as a nation, and by a U.S. president personally, passed almost without comment last week. I refer to the Nov. 20 announcement at a summit meeting in Phnom Penh, [Cambodia], that 15 Asian nations, comprising half the world’s population, would form a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership excluding the United States.”
We were not accidentally barred from this new grouping. Rather, Mr. Goldman reports, Mr. Obama tried to use the summit to promote a U.S.-sponsored Trans-Pacific Partnership that would exclude China. He not only failed, the ASEAN nations plus India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand agreed instead to form a new club with China in and the United States out.
Spengler attributes this poke in the eye to a cold calculation by the Pacific Rim types that the United States is no longer the region’s dominant economic power. That may be. Whether it is a recalibration rooted in changing financial and trade relations or a sense that China is emerging as the new hegemon in their part of the world, the result is the same: dynamics in Asia that are unlikely to prove conducive to our economy or security.
Then there is Mr. Obama’s rash effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons, starting with ours. A State Department advisory committee made up of rabid disarmers has just issued a recommendation that the United States make still further, deep reductions in its nuclear stockpile through negotiated agreements with Russia, if possible, and unilaterally if President Vladimir Putin will not go along.
This panel — like the Obama administration, which is expected to embrace its recommendations — seems indifferent to the growing evidence that China may have substantially more deployed nuclear weapons than we do. Unlike ours, theirs are on modern launch vehicles, many of which seem to be hidden in 3,000 miles of hardened tunnels. Meanwhile, Team Obama is ensuring that there will be no modernization of the U.S. arsenal and that its weapons — and the industrial complex vital to their future deterrent value and readiness — will continue to atrophy.
Mr. Obama is redistributing power, all right, and thereby is giving the globe a strategic makeover. Think of it as his “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” by diminishing its power and upgrading that of its enemies.
Does anyone think this is going to have any effect other than emboldening those who wish us ill, even as we reduce our capacity to deter and, if necessary, to defeat them?