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Dead Silence after Missile Launch

April 7, 2009

President Obama does the same thing on the world stage that he does on the domestic stage: he emits lots of lofty talk, makes castle-in-the-air promises about future actions and simultaneously acts in direct contradiction to those very promises.

Virtually at the same time as Monsieur Obama stood in Prague and told the world that he wants to work towards a world without nuclear weapons, North Korea launched its missiles in violation of UN resolutions made only a few years back. And while Obama declared that “rules must be binding”, that “violations must be punished” and that “words must mean something” the non-response to the DPRK from the ‘international community’ that Monsieur Obama wants to “stand shoulder to shoulder” with “to pressure the North Koreans to change course” was more eloquent than any of the US President’s speeches. It’s a scene bearing the same characteristics like the one of Obama’s ‘fiscal responsibility summit’ while he spends billions of dollars on ‘economic stimulus’, TARP, bailouts, “last year’s business” budget, and his own budget proposal and drives national debt into record highs. In both situations Obama’s words are in blatant contradiction to his actions.

There is another parallel to be drawn between this foreign policy issue and the domestic policy strategy of the Obama administration. It is North Korea’s and Iran’s goal to become nuclear powers and to be able to hold the rest of the world hostage that demand an immediate response by Presdident Obama. But instead of deterring the two rogue nations, Obama focuses like a laser on a plan to reduce America’s nuclear arsenal in agreement with Russia to do the same. This is just like Obama would have us believe that his gargantuan spending plans are going to cure the economy or that cutting executive pay is getting at the root cause of the financial crisis. In all of these cases the problem and the response are related, but certainly not in the problem-solution way that the President claims.

As for Obama’s argument that only through reducing its own nuclear arsenal does America gain the moral ground that allows them to talk nations like Iran and North Korea out of acquiring their own nuclear weapons, it has a terrible implication. It would mean that he believes that any oppressive, minorities-persecuting, dissidents-killing, freedom-stifling and peace-threatening regime of thugs is just as entitled to arm itself to the teeth as is the democratic country that makes the strongest emphasis on individual liberty and prosperity of all nations. One would assume that the leader of the free world knows the difference between the nation he is president of and a communist dictatorship that starves its own population or a terrorism-sponsoring ‘Republic’ that wants to ‘wipe Israel off the map.’

The biggest problem with this discrepancy between Monsieur Obama’s (more or less) tough talk and his actions is that he is losing credibility and undermines the positive effect his words could have. It is much easier to destroy a reputation of toughness than to rebuild it. While an America that has a history of using the big stick it carries is less likely to have the need of actually using it, an America that is led by a man who belies his own promises of punishing bad behaviour will eventually have to act belligerently in order to be taken seriously. The advantage of being decried as a cowboy is that reaching for your gun is often enough to keep bad guys from making mischief. A person who wears his anti-cowboy-ism as a badge of honour, on the other hand, may have to actually fire a shot in order to minimise a tragedy.

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