It’s Deja-Vu All Over Again
When President Obama was first elected we expected that the US would suffer through another Jimmy Carteresque presidency. It would be so bad that Obama would end up being a one-term president. Now, we are not in the prophecy business–but it does seem a likely outcome.
The reasons and causes are manifold and complex. Moreover, there are very clear differences between Carter and Obama as personalities. Carter wanted to run his slide rule over the minute footnotes of thousand page government reports. He was so detailed it was difficult getting a decision. Obama does not sweat the small stuff. He is clearly not a detail person. He is big-picture. However, neither approach results in firm, decisive leadership that makes sense.
Another key difference is that Carter was a much more overt and fervent Christian. After all, he taught a Bible class faithfully all the time he was in Washington–every Sunday when he was available. (We make no comment upon the content of his teaching.) Obama appears to be a secular “Christian”. Contact with Christians and churches is for political ends, not a conviction born of personal faith in Christ. But both share a deeply held progressivist ideology–which has a long tradition in the United States. Both share a belief in the building of the Kingdom of God upon earth–but their view of the Kingdom is essentially secular. Both believe the US is a God-appointed avatar of this Kingdom. The Kingdom is identified with the Left’s social agenda of satisfying all “demand” rights and using redistributive taxation to achieve it world wide. It is a false Gospel.
In international affairs, both share a deep desire for human peace, brotherhood, internationalism, and working to achieve global harmony. Carter believed that our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount was a guide to how the US ought to conduct international relationships. Treating opponents with gentleness, turning the other cheek would gently steer the enemies of the US into adopting an ethic of the universal brotherhood of man. As one analyst put it, Carter’s filter on international relations was the Sermon on the Mount. It ought to have been the Ten Commandments.
Obama is very much on the same page. He appears to believe the role of the US is to be an avatar of world peace via internationalism–all peoples working together in the name of Man for the common good. This is Obama’s version of American exceptionalism–very much in the vein of Woodrow Wilson. Rather than imposing American political doctrines militarily upon other nations, making the world “safe for democracy”, he would adopt a national policy of humility and lowliness (hence the apologies, the bowing), thereby winning the hearts and minds of other peoples to US humanitarianism.
Naive, simplistic idealism thus seems to be common between Carter and Obama. In international relations, the outcome and results are the same. Dithering, inconsistency, confusion, mistakes, doubt, indecision. At least that is the way it appears–and we believe that in this case the appearance is the reality.
We believe the only biblically defensible position for a Christian nation to take with respect to other nations is to mind one’s own business. The cost of this view–a cost deeply offensive to the modern liberal mind–is that evils which abound in other nations such as murders, torturing, oppression, and wars evoke only one legitimate response: that is, no response, apart from (maybe) rebuke and exhortation.
As soon as a nation goes beyond that, endless inconsistencies abound. More so if you happen to be a super-power. So Obama encouraged the popular uprising in Egypt, intervened militarily in Libya, yet ignores popular uprisings in Yemen, Algeria and Syria. No-one can understand the inconsistency–neither the Left nor the Right. No-one can explain it. The upshot is that the President appears as bumbling and confused. The US electorate is appalled. To a people who pride themselves on “can do” and pragmatic effectiveness a President who seems incompetent is culturally offensive and disgusting. It is an insult to national pride.
The visceral reaction against Carter and Obama appears very similar. We believe it is due to the common appearance of incompetence and bumbling.
Older readers will recall that a weeping sore during Carter’s one term presidency was Iran’s holding American embassy staff as hostages. It went on for months and months (444 days in all). Unable to do anything decisive, Carter ended up appearing weak and vacillating. When finally he did approve a special forces military strike to free the hostages, it failed through mechanical breakdown. It was a symbol of his presidency–an enduring historical epitaph.
For Obama, Libya and Afghanistan and Syria and Iran all have the same smell. The American electorate does not suffer incompetence gladly. It is offensive. It is embarrassing. It is shameful.
Ironically, the electorate prefers its presidents to be decisively wrong in foreign affairs, than haltingly right. That is why independent voters will tolerate Republican jingoism and sabre rattling more readily than Democratic cerebral vacillation. Both are wrong.
God grants civil powers authority over their own people, not over other nations. Minding one’s own business is a great virtue in international relations. Being non-aligned is a Christian position. As far as possible, live at peace with all nations. But be vigorous in defence of the lives of one’s citizens when necessary.
The belief that America has a divine destiny to lead the world to a higher place is not just hubris. It is offensively idolatrous. It claims a calling not given by the Almighty. For the past one hundred years in the US, this perversion has taken two extreme forms: the jingoism of Bush and McCain and the Neo-Cons requiring that America police the world, defending all citizens, making the world “safe for democracy”. The second is the effete internationalism of Wilson, Carter, and Obama, dying the death of a thousand contradictions and inconsistencies.
Both branches of the tree share the same root; the fruit equally rotten and poisonous.