- The Washington Times - Friday, November 12, 2010


Margaret Thatcher once said that being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t. At the Group of 20 summit in Seoul, President Obama asserted that the results of the midterm elections have not diminished his power internationally and that in some ways, he is even stronger, thanks to the friendships he allegedly has developed with world leaders.

World leaders may indeed like Mr. Obama on a personal level, but that has little to do with his stature as a national leader. Machiavelli’s dictum that it is better for a head of state to be feared than loved still applies, and it is clear that there is no reason for any country to fear the affable Mr. Obama.

The president again casually confirmed his belief in the decline of America’s “outsized” influence in world affairs, noting, “We are now seeing a situation where a whole host of other countries are doing well and coming into their own and naturally they’re going to be more assertive.” The president thinks this greater assertiveness is “a healthy thing” but did not elaborate for whom it was healthy - certainly not the United States. For some inexplicable reason, Mr. Obama welcomes the decline of America’s role on the international stage. It is his most notable accomplishment.

Mr. Obama defended the relative lack of progress at this G-20 meeting by lecturing the press on the importance of maintaining perspective. “We should not anticipate that every time countries come together that we are doing some revolutionary thing,” he said. “Instead of hitting home runs, sometimes we’re going to hit singles. But they’re really important singles.” His Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding, Mr. Obama has yet to prove that he is a power hitter in the league of nations. The world awaits his first home run. Mr. Obama’s Mideast peace effort hasn’t reached first base, he has achieved little of substance in dissuading Iran from pursuing nuclear-weapons capability, his trade policy is a slow-motion train wreck, and his vision of a nuclear-free world remains empty rhetoric.

The question is not whether Mr. Obama’s influence on the world is increasing or decreasing. It is rather whether he has any meaningful influence on important world events at all.

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