Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 9/12/14
Recently my daughter, several of her soccer teammates and the associated parents were all gathered at a well-known fast food franchise for a post-game lunch. With us in the restaurant at the same time were a man and a woman and a three or four year old little boy who was apparently their son.
This kid was out of control. He especially enjoyed shouting the same gibberish word as loudly as he could for the sheer joy of watching our reaction. He demonstrated not one bit of self-restraint. While not touching his own food (save for seeing that a major portion of it found its way to the floor), he made sure that his parents never took a peaceful bite of theirs.
All the time this boy’s parents repeatedly admonished him to behave and they repeatedly warned of consequences to follow. Never, however, did any consequences actually arrive. As a result, this little hellion correctly calculated that he was free to do whatever he wanted.
With what we are now observing from the terrorist group ISIS and from Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the thought occurs that the scene in that restaurant actually serves as allegory with respect to American foreign policy under the Obama administration.
Not many alive today can remember a time other than Pax Americana, a Latin expression for the seven-plus decades during which the free world has lived in a state of relative peace ensured by a strong, capable and resolute United States. During our lifetimes, part of the calculus of being a bad actor in the world was the possibility of being slapped down by the U.S military. Get too far out of line and you could wake up one morning with a U.S. Navy carrier task group sitting offshore dialing in the coordinates of your front porch.
Following World War II, most of the free nations of the world were able to dramatically draw down their armed forces, secure in the knowledge that Uncle Sam was acting as “watchmen on the walls of world freedom,” as John F. Kennedy expressed it.
Being a good and effective parent to a small child is never-ending and to an astonishing degree thankless. The same is true for standing a never-ending watch in the defense of freedom. But both jobs, difficult and burdensome as they are, must be done lest very bad consequences accrue.
The Obama administration has turned the U.S. into those ineffectual parents at the fast food place. Talking, talking, talking. A meaningless “red line” here. A ‘let there be no mistake’ there. But never any concrete action to punish or deter malfeasance. Nothing in response to the invasion of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, the gassing of one’s own people, the overrunning of a U.S. consulate, the concurrent killing of a U.S ambassador or the beheading of two American journalists.
Vladimir Putin and ISIS are nothing more than scaled up versions of that boy in the restaurant; behaving the way they are because President Obama is behaving as ineffectually as that boy’s parents did.
Lord help those parents when their boy turns 16. By then, it will be too late.
Just as it will be for the world when Pax Americana ends – perhaps as soon as on Barack Obama’s watch.