”Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder,” said historian Arnold J. Toynbee. President Obama is placing America on the path of civilizational suicide. Following the Group of 20 summit of world leaders in London, Washington is poised to swallow the lethal pill of global socialism.
Mr. Obama demonstrated a dangerous naivete - one that endangers long-term U.S. security interests. His meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao were praised by the fawning press corps. Their warmth and collegiality supposedly marked a clear break from the hated Bush years. Yet Mr. Obama was outmaneuvered by the leaders of America’s two great rival powers.
Mr. Medvedev now hails Mr. Obama as his “new comrade.” And why shouldn’t he? Comrade Obama gave the Russian strongman exactly what he wanted: legitimacy from the world’s sole superpower. Moscow won major concessions from Washington, which agreed to a new nuclear-arms-reduction treaty - one that will limit both countries’ nuclear warheads to 1,500. Russia is an economic basket case with a rusting military infrastructure. It can’t afford to maintain its current warhead levels, and it was on a glide path to self-imposed cutbacks. Hence, Mr. Obama agreed to curb America’s nuclear might in exchange for something the Russians were going to do anyway.
More important, the meeting with Mr. Medvedev produced the illusion of detente between Moscow and Washington. Behind the diplomatic facade and back-slapping, Russia is a fascist petro-state bent on undermining America’s international standing. Led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, it seeks to restore the Russian Empire. It has waged wars of aggression in Chechnya and Georgia. It wants to annex Belarus and Ukraine. It has erected an authoritarian kleptocracy that crushes internal dissent. It has forged an axis with China, Iran and Venezuela. In other words, it is not a friend or strategic partner, but our enemy.
Mr. Obama hopes this new detente will encourage Moscow to take a harder line against Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. In fact, the Kremlin has the very opposite interest: It wants a nuclear Iran in order to trigger a wider regional war that will drive up the price of oil - the lifeblood of Mr. Putin’s regime. This is why Moscow continues to sell vital nuclear technology and long-range missiles to Iran’s mullahs, blocking crippling sanctions at the United Nations Security Council. Mr. Obama’s vaunted diplomatic offensive has only empowered Russia’s gangster elite, while diminishing America’s position.
Yet the big winner was Red China. Flush with $2 trillion in foreign reserves (much of it in American Treasury notes), Beijing has emerged as an economic giant. It now owns much of our debt. China is a creditor nation; America is a debtor nation. For decades, the Chinese have systematically used their massive trade surpluses to pile up U.S. dollars and invest in critical sectors of the American economy. Their goal: to emerge as Asia’s pre-eminent power and eventually replace Washington as the world’s leader. Mr. Obama has given Beijing what it has always wanted: equal standing with the United States. He has jettisoned the policy of containment.
Like vultures circling over a rotting carcass, Russia and China sense American weakness. Both have called for a new global currency to replace the U.S. dollar. Their demands reflect not only America’s vulnerability, but also Moscow’s and Beijing’s growing lack of respect.
The G-20 summit was a historic watershed. It marked the end of the American moment; the United States lost its will and desire to remain the world’s last hyperpower. The values that propelled its meteoric rise to global hegemony - free markets, limited government, American exceptionalism - were abandoned in a fit of multicultural, narcissistic self-indulgence.
None of this should come as a surprise. During the election campaign, Mr. Obama vowed to “transform this country.” In London, he agreed to an international regulatory framework that effectively controls the big banks and hedge funds, limits executive compensation, curtails tax havens and even infuses the International Monetary Fund with more than $1 trillion to drive global economic growth.
A new international socialist order is emerging. French President Nicolas Sarkozy boasted that “a page has been turned” on an era of postwar “Anglo-Saxon” capitalism.
Mr. Obama now gleefully insists the days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill “sitting in a room with a brandy” and deciding the world’s fate are over. Yet American-Anglo leadership defeated Nazi Germany, brought down the Soviet empire, rebuilt Western Europe and Japan, and forged the most prosperous, democratic and stable international system in history.
Socialists such as Mr. Obama seek to portray a severe recession as some kind of crisis of capitalism - when, in fact, the root cause was activist government policies that fueled an inflated, unsustainable housing market. Anglo-Saxon capitalism is hated in Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Moscow and Beijing not because it is volatile or has systemic flaws, but for precisely the opposite reason: Its self-generating dynamism has created an economic and military titan not seen since ancient Rome. Success breeds envy.
Socialism is the road to ruin. By embarking on it, the United States risks going the way of the Roman Empire - and like the invading Germanic tribes, China and Russia threaten to fill the strategic vacuum. Mr. Obama may portray himself as a modern-day Caesar. But he is, in fact, only opening the gates to American treasures and allowing the modern-day barbarians to loot to their hearts’ content.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington think tank.