The most terrifying aspect of the collapse of US power worldwide is the US’s indifferent response to it.
In Europe, in Asia, in the Middle East and beyond, America’s most dangerous foes are engaging in aggression and brinkmanship unseen in decades.
As Gordon Chang noted at a symposium in Los Angeles last month hosted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, since President Barack Obama entered office in 2009, the Chinese have responded to his overtures of goodwill and appeasement with intensified aggression against the US’s Asian allies and against US warships.
In 2012, China seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines. Washington shrugged its shoulders despite its mutual defense treaty with the Philippines. And so Beijing is striking again, threatening the Second Thomas Shoal, another Philippine possession.
In a similar fashion, Beijing is challenging Japan’s control over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and even making territorial claims on Okinawa.
As Chang explained, China’s recent application of its Air-Defense Identification Zone to include Japanese and South Korean airspace is a hostile act not only against those countries but also against the principle of freedom of maritime navigation, which, Chang noted, “Americans have been defending for more than two centuries.”
The US has responded to Chinese aggression with ever-escalating attempts to placate Beijing.
And China has responded to these US overtures by demonstrating contempt for US power.
Last week, the Chinese humiliated Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during his visit to China’s National Defense University. He was harangued by a student questioner for the US’s support for the Philippines and Japan, and for opposition to Chinese unilateral seizure of island chains and assertions of rights over other states’ airspace and international waterways.
As he stood next to Hagel in a joint press conference, China’s Defense Chief Chang Wanquan demanded that the US restrain Japan and the Philippines.
In addition to its flaccid responses to Chinese aggression against its allies and its own naval craft, in 2012 the US averred from publicly criticizing China for its sale to North Korea of mobile missile launchers capable of serving Pyongyang’s KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles. With these easily concealed launchers, North Korea significantly upgraded its ability to attack the US with nuclear weapons.
As for Europe, the Obama administration’s responses to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and to its acts of aggression against Ukraine bespeak a lack of seriousness and dangerous indifference to the fate of the US alliance structure in Eastern Europe.
Rather than send NATO forces to the NATO member Baltic states, and arm Ukrainian forces with defensive weapons, as Russian forces began penetrating Ukraine, the US sent food to Ukraine and an unarmed warship to the Black Sea.
Clearly not impressed by the US moves, the Russians overflew and shadowed the US naval ship. As Charles Krauthammer noted on Fox News on Monday, the Russian action was not a provocation. It was “a show of contempt.”
As Krauthammer explained, it could have only been viewed as a provocation if Russia had believed the US was likely to respond to its shadowing of the warship. Since Moscow correctly assessed that the US would not respond to its aggression, by buzzing and following the warship, the Russians demonstrated to Ukraine and other US allies that they cannot trust the US to protect them from Russia.
In the Middle East, it is not only the US’s obsessive approach to the Palestinian conflict with Israel that lies in shambles. The entire US alliance system and the Obama administration’s other signature initiatives have also collapsed.
After entering office, Obama implemented an aggressive policy in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere of killing al-Qaida operatives with unmanned drones. The strategy was based on the notion that such a campaign, that involves no US boots on the ground, can bring about a rout of the terrorist force at minimal human cost to the US and at minimal political cost to President Barack Obama.
The strategy has brought about the demise of a significant number of al-Qaida terrorists over the years. And due to the support Obama enjoys from the US media, the Obama administration paid very little in terms of political capital for implementing it.
But despite the program’s relative success, according to The Washington Post, the administration suspended drone attacks in December 2013 after it endured modest criticism when one in Yemen inadvertently hit a wedding party.
No doubt al-Qaida noticed the program’s suspension. And now the terror group is flaunting its immunity from US attack.
This week, jihadist websites featured an al-Qaida video showing hundreds of al-Qaida terrorists in Yemen meeting openly with the group’s second in command, Nasir al-Wuhayshi.
In the video, Wuhayshi threatened the US directly saying, “We must eliminate the cross,” and explaining that “the bearer of the cross is America.”
There is a direct correlation between the US elite’s preoccupation with social issues running the narrow and solipsistic gamut from gay marriage to transgender bathrooms to a phony war against women, and America’s inability to recognize the growing threats to the global order or understand why Americans should care about the world at all.
And there is a similarly direct correlation between the growing aggression of US foes and Obama’s decision to slash defense spending while allowing the US nuclear arsenal to become all but obsolete.
America’s spurned allies will take the actions they need to take to protect themselves. Some will persevere, others will likely be overrun.
But with Americans across the ideological spectrum pretending that failure is success and defeat is victory, while turning their backs on the growing storm, how will America protect itself?
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