Victor Davis Hanson’s brilliant analysis of contemporary geo-politics is a must read at National Review. In less than 1,200 words, Hanson summarizes the alarming rise of five (five!) anti-American empires under Obama’s watch.
World War I saw the demise of the colonial age of empires, as four empires (Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian) “abruptly collapsed amid military defeat, rising nationalism, and revolution.”
Everything abhors a vacuum, so, “on the eve of World War II four new empires suddenly grew out of the wreckage of old Europe and Asia.” They were: Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany (Third Reich), the Greater Japanese Empire, and the Soviet Union.
The German, Italian, and Japanese Empires collapsed at the end of the Second World War, with the British Empire sputtering to an end a few decades later. “The Soviet implosion in 1991 was expected by very few.” [Ronald Reagan was the exception.]
Barack Obama, Empire Builder
That geo-political power vacuum is again creating a vortex of competing empire-building forces spanning the globe to create, as Hanson notes, five new (or revived) empires.
The first empire identified by Hanson is an “Iranian theocracy [which] fancies itself the reincarnation of the ancient Persian Empire of Cyrus and Xerxes.” Iran’s nuclear ambitions will soon be realized, and it already “controls portions of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and, soon, Yemen.”
The second emerging empire – a restored Russian Empire – fulfills Putin’s “dreams of updating 19th-century Czarist Russia.” Putin “runs an autocratic nuclear state and has dreams of restoring 19th-century imperial Russia under Orthodoxy and a new czardom.”
“Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan dreams of reviving the Ottoman Empire.” This third empire extends into “both the Arab and the Mediterranean worlds.”
The fourth empire, the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL), “has grandiose schemes of recreating the medieval pan-Arab caliphate.” It is intent upon hollowing out and absorbing the Middle East and seizing “the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.”
The jihadist Islamic State is an empire of our own making, as Hanson notes, “for the price of a cheap 2012 reelection talking point, the U.S. fled from Iraq in 2011, after enormous sacrifices in blood and treasure had achieved, in the words of Barack Obama, a relatively stable and secure Iraq that might have been, in the words of Joe Biden, the administration’s greatest achievement. Supporters of Obama claim the Iraq War created ISIS; in fact, the disintegration of Syria and the abrupt U.S. withdrawal from Iraq did.”
The fifth empire, the awakening giant of Communist China, “has terrified almost all of its Westernized neighbors – Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan.” It is attempting “to recreate its own version of” the Japanese Empire.
Our Common Enemy
Hanson notes some disturbing “common denominators to the grandiose visions of these five would-be empires.” In essence, they “are anti-democratic,” “certainly anti-American” “bullies” who cannot be appeased.
As Hanson puts it, “Obama is abetting five new empires that believe their reactionary autocracy, anti-Americanism, and growing military power should earn them greater material rewards and global influence. To paraphrase the Roman historian Tacitus, where Obama has helped to create chaos, he calls it peace.”
Although Obama rails against imperialism, and has – throughout his presidency – sought to diminish America’s geo-political footprint around the globe, Hanson points out that this present-day “turbulent age of rising empires [is] mostly due to a new American indifference and passivity.”
Ironically, as President Barack “I am not a dictator” Obama wields greater dictatorial powers at home and bullies political opponents as if they were the enemy, he appeases our enemies as if that will cause them to cease being tyrants or terrorists.
Obama treats these rising hegemonic threats as if they were legitimate, yet regards America’s presence anywhere as illegitimate, as if America was a usurper on the world stage.
Leading from behind has led to this global crisis in which America continues to hide behind Obama’s phony assurances of “Peace in our time.” Instead of exercising leadership in a world desperate for salvation, Obama rejects the reality of the threats facing us and the world.
Instead of challenging, as Reagan did, existing evil empires, Obama acts as if it is America that is evil.
Update: David French adds clarity to President Obama’s actual accomplishments in the Middle East and northern Africa. He writes:
“While no one should pretend there was an easy or obvious American diplomatic or military response to the Arab Spring, the Obama administration did worse than fail – it kept choosing to back the wrong side. It launched a war on behalf of a ragtag group of jihadist militias in Libya – jihadists who soon enough transformed into violent enemies of the U.S. It backed the revolutionary Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt – even to the point of sending it advanced American weapons – even as it violated the Camp David Accords, persecuted Christians, and supported Hamas. Then, when the Brotherhood was overthrown in one of the world’s largest political protests, the Obama administration incredibly imposed an arms embargo on the new, allied government that took power.”
“At perhaps the most strategically critical moment in the Middle East since the Arab-Israeli wars, the Obama administration created a yawning power vacuum — one that has since been filled, with gusto, by ISIS, Iran, and now Russia.”