Daniel Henninger, Deputy Editorial Page Director for the Wall Street Journal, appeared on Fox News this morning to discuss his recent editorial “Time for a Big-League President.”1 In it, he wrote about the world’s political climate and declared that “Only one thing really matters in an unsettled world: the quality of U.S. leadership.”
In today’s television interview, he commented on China’s increased assertiveness against Japan and other countries in the Far East. Meanwhile, the U.S. seems to have disappeared from Asia. In response to an unprecedented need, the State Department has tried to reassure our allies that we have not, in fact, abandoned them.
The question is: “Why has the Administration pulled back from opportunities to “keep the peace” in Asia?
Isolationism and Presidential Resources
Mr. Henninger believes it stems from the fact that “polls say Americans are in an isolationist mood.” He continued with “Mr. Obama won’t spend political capital outside the country—Ukraine, Syria, Asia. He wants to spend what capital he has left consolidating internal federal authority.”1
These observations are accurate. A majority of the American public, or at least the Baby Boomers and perhaps some of Generation X, have had an extended, subconscious guilt over the Viet Nam years. For the last four decades, there has been a persistent reluctance to become involved in major disputes outside our borders, reminiscent of our pre-1917 era before we were pulled into World War I.2
Advancing Socialism and Increasing Federal Debt
There are two other reasons for our lack of effort in preventing Asia from becoming another hot spot in the world. The first is the President Obama’s obvious preference for socialism. Despite laughter from the left and disbelief from the uninformed center of the political spectrum, there is abundant evidence.
Obamacare is just a recent example. The President’s signature piece of legislation may or may not work. It seems unimportant to his ultimate goal. If it succeeds, then it becomes part of a more orderly move toward socialized medicine. If it fails, then by recognizing the reality that we rarely retrace our steps away from entitlements, it will fast-forward us to socialized medicine. And as Dr. Benjamin Carson has reminded us, Lenin said that “socialized medicine is the keystone to a socialized state.”
Another tactic on the part of the President is the “Common Core” (or “Obamacore”) standards for education. It’s a bold move to take control of education from the states and to concentrate it more in the federal government. It also strives to make students “worker-ready” at the expense of being “informed voter-ready.”
Lastly, but certainly not least, is our federal debt. It’s not only at a very unhealthy level, but is made even worse by the amount of Treasury securities held by other countries. At the end of October, 2013, China owned $1.3045 trillion, which was 7.6% of our total debt and up from 7.2% twelve months earlier.3 If this were the stock market, China would be required to make a bid to own the U.S. As it is, they hold a disturbingly high percentage of our Treasury securities; thus, adding credibility to the idea that the Administration doesn’t want to ruffle their feathers.
The abdication of our influence in Asia is just one of several injuries to our ability in being a force for good in the world. The current Administration is more concerned with the long-term dependency of the citizenry. We voters must remember that the world is way too small for us to think that if we just keep to ourselves, become preoccupied with “American” problems only, then everything will be fine.
I cannot improve on Mr. Henninger’s concluding statement: “Barack Obama has proven that rookie leaders won’t work in the world we’ve got now. If the U.S. wants to remain a big-league nation, it’s going to have to elect a big-league president.”
1 – 1/1/2014 at www.online.wsj.com
2 – Mr. Henninger also wrote in that article: “It is no surprise that in conversations of late one hears invocations of the 1930s. Or that a popular book to give this season has been Margaret MacMillan’s ‘The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914.’ Whether the world in 2014 will tip from containment to chaos or war is not the subject here.” Nor is it for this posting, either, but it’s certainly worth thinking about as we head toward the mid-term elections ten months away.
3 – While China’s additional investments in Treasury securities slowed from April to October of 2013, their 12-month net purchases showed an increase of $134 billion while all other foreign owned debt decreased slightly. Data is from www.treasury.gov