Comic-songster Ray Stevens’ satirical look at Obamanomics.
Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph. Robert E. Howard
(The following essay is excerpted from “Our New Old Enemies”; by Col. Ralph Peters. From Parameters, Summer 1999, pp. 22-37.)
In our own Western cultural history, the fiercest military brutalities and the most savage wars were fought over faith, whether the Crusades or defensive wars against Muslims, campaigns of suppression against dissenting Christians, the great religious wars of the 16th and, especially, 17th centuries, or the 20th century’s world wars between secular religions.
Now our history is playing out in other flesh. When Indonesian rioters murder Chinese merchants, or when the Sudanese Muslims who hold power butcher and enslave the Christians in their country’s south, their behavior is not inhuman. On the contrary, it is timelessly human.
Beware of any enemy motivated by supernatural convictions or great moral schemes. Even when he is less skilled and ill-equipped, his fervor may simply wear you down. Our military posture could not be more skewed. We build two-billion-dollar bombers, but we cannot cope with bare-handed belief.
…if we want to understand the warriors of the world and the fury that drives them, we had better open our minds to the power of belief; and the power of barbaric hatred.
Consider the Iliad. Read that great poem one more time, without the prejudices we have learned. You will find that the triumphant Greeks were the devious, the barbarous, the murderous. The Trojans were the urban, civilized, and tolerant. Troy stood for learning, piety, and decency. Its mistake was to humiliate implacable barbarians, without the will to destroy them. The Trojans fought to be left alone in their comfortable world. The Greeks fought for revenge, spoils, and the pleasure of slaughter. The defeated Trojan monarch, King Priam, was a decent man who watched the war from behind his walls and had to beg for the return of his son’s mangled body. He was presidential in his dignity.
The Greeks won.
We are not Trojans. We are far mightier. But we have not learned to understand, much less rule, minds and hearts and souls. The only moral we need to cull from the Iliad is that it is foolish to underestimate the complexity and determination of the killers from the other shore.
From that heritage we Americans have developed our historical belief that all men want peace, that all conflict can be resolved through compromise and understanding. It leads to the diplomatic equivalent of Sunday-night snake-handling–faith in the power of negotiations to allay hatred.
Because we are privileged and reasonably content with our corner of the planet, we find peace desirable. There is nothing wrong with this. The problem arises when we assume that all other men, no matter how discontented, jealous, disenfranchised, and insulted, want peace as well. Our faith in man is truly a blind faith. Many human beings have no stake in peace. They draw no advantage from the status quo.
We even see this in our own fortunate country. A disproportionate share of crime is committed by those with the least stake in society–the excluded and marginalized with little or nothing to lose.
MAN THE KILLER
Of all the notions I have advanced over the years, the only one that has met with consistent rejection is my statement that men like to kill. I do not believe that all men like to kill. At the extreme, there are those saintly beings who would sacrifice their own lives before taking the life of another. The average man will kill if compelled to, in uniform in a war, or in self-defense, but has no evident taste for it.
Men react differently to the experience of killing. Some are traumatized. Others simply move on with their lives. But there is at least a minority of human beings–mostly male–who enjoy killing. That minority may be small, but it does not take many enthusiastic killers to trigger the destruction of a fragile society. Revolutions, pogroms, genocides, and civil wars are not made by majorities, but by minorities with the acquiescence of the majority. The majority may gloat, or loot, but the killing minority drives history.
Violence is addictive. Police know this. That’s where the phrase “the usual suspects” comes from. In our society, the overwhelming majority of violent acts are committed by repeat offenders. Statistics would make us a violent nation; in fact, we are a peaceable people until aroused. The numbers are skewed because we have failed to deter recidivists. Spouse- and child-abusers do not do it once, they repeat. Sex offenders–and all sex crimes are crimes of violence–are notorious repeat offenders. Most barroom brawls are begun by the same old troublemakers.
Even in combat, when mortal violence is legal, most enemy combatants killed in close fighting appear to be killed by a small number of “high performers” in our ranks. Throughout history, many a combat hero has had difficulty adjusting to peace. We reject the evidence of the human enthusiasm for violence because it troubles us and undercuts the image we have created of perfectible Man. But violence has an undeniable appeal. Certainly for the otherwise disenfranchised, it is the only response left. Perhaps the psychologists are right that much violence is a cry for help. But what both of those arguments really say is that violence, however motivated, is gratifying and empowering.
THE POWER OF HATRED
The rest of the world is not like us.
For all of our lingering prejudices, we have done a remarkable job of subduing our hatreds. Perhaps it is only the effect of wealth bounded by law that makes us such a powerful exception to history, but our lack of domestic faction is a miracle nonetheless. We are indescribably fortunate, but our good fortune has lulled us into our primary military and diplomatic weakness: we do not understand the delicious appeal of hatred.
We cannot understand how Serbs and Kosovar Albanians, Croats and Bosnian Muslims could do that to each other. We cannot understand how Hutus and Tutsis could do that to each other. We do not understand how the Chinese could do that to the Tibetans. We do not understand how the Armenians and Azeris could do that to each other. We do not understand how the tribes of Sierra Leone or Liberia could do that to each other. We do not understand how India’s Hindus and Muslims could do that to each other. We do not understand how the Russians and Chechens could do that to each other. We do not understand how Haitians, Somalis, Colombians, Mexicans, Indonesians, Sri Lankans, Congolese, Burundians, or Irish could do that to each other . . . .
Over the years, I have written about “warriors”–the non-soldiers from guerrillas to narco-traffickers–whom we encounter and fight. In the past I stressed the importance of recognizing five types of warriors: the scum of the earth, the average Joe who is drawn into the conflict as it drags on, demobilized military men, opportunists, and true believers. Now I worry about only two of these sources of conflict: the opportunists and the believers, the gangsters and the godly, the men unrestrained by morals and those whose iron morality is implacable. They are the centers of gravity. The others are swept along by the tide.
Our enemies of the future will be enemies out of the past. As the US armed forces put their faith and funding behind ever more sophisticated combat systems designed to remove human contact from warfare, mankind circles back to the misbehaviors of yesteryear.
Technologies come and go, but the primitive endures.
For the complete essay, Our New Old Enemies, by Col. Ralph Peters, go here.
AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IS RUDDERLESS IN THE AGE OF OBAMA
North Korea, at once the most heavily armed and least stable country in the world, tears up the 1953 Armistice with its democratic (American ally) to the south. This, following years of military and political provocations; including the sinking a South Korean naval vessel by a North Korean submarine in March of 2010. While its hard to take seriously a nation led by a twenty-something dictator who resembles a demented panda bear and pals around with Dennis Rodman; the communist dictatorship has nuclear weapons, is developing a missile capable of hitting Los Angeles, and has in the last few weeks released videos promising to nuke America!
What was President Obama’s strong response to all this?
In Benghazi, Libya, on the anniversary of 9/11 last year, militants with links to al Qaeda attacked the American Consulate. During an 8 hour siege, five Americans were killed; including Ambassador Chris Stevens, the first of our Ambassadors to be so murdered in decades.
What, again, was the President’s response?
China routinely makes cyber attacks upon our military and civilian computers, hacking and stealing information; some of which has deep national security implications (such as our Top Secret military technology). This, while they have launching their first aircraft carrier as the start of their goal of building a “Blue Water” navy; and are unilaterally seizing disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Just what is the President doing in response to Chinese provocations?
In February two Russian bombers, armed with nuclear weapons, flew into American airspace and over the Island of Guam. They withdrew before scrambled American jet
fighters could intercept them. This is widely seen as another example of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin reasserting his country’s global power and traditional confrontational stance toward the United States.
So much for Hillary Clinton’s famous “restart” of relations between Russian and America. What Putin seems intent on restarting is the Cold War!
Again, the question is: Where is Obama?
The answer in all these cases is that the Administration’s response was to have no response.
It seems that the Obama administration’s answer to difficult foreign policy challenges is to largely ignore them and hope they go unnoticed. Its an ostrich strategy: burying ones head in the sand, refusing to look at a threat rather than dealing with it.
As the Middle East burns and Asia smolders Americans wonder where is the President. Foreign policy in the Obama Age seems rudderless, as the President spends his time playing golf and politics rather than his job as Commander in Chief and Leader of the Free World. In his second term it is increasingly a “Where’s Waldo” presidency, with Obama nowhere to be seen on foreign policy.
As Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post was already noting in his first term, Obama the lion of the campaign trail seems a tame housecat on the world stage.
‘For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president. There are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action – unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful.’
Its an increasingly dangerous world for America and her friends. Made more dangerous do to a lack of American leadership.
Al Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups have spread violence from the Philippine Islands to sub-Saharan Africa (and, thanks largely to the late unlamented Hugo Chavez, Hezbollah has set up training camps in South America as well). In Mali, Al Qaeda was well on the way to taking over that country, having already established its own government in the northern part. In absence of American action, it took the French (!) to finally intervene in order to prevent such a disastrous contingency.
Egypt, the most populous Arab country in the world, has been taken over by the radical Muslim Brotherhood, the intellectual father of Al Qaeda. It has all but torn-up the Camp David Accords that brought peace with Israel; cutting off normal relations while its President, Mohammed Morsi, calls the Israelis (and Jews in general) “bloodsuckers” and “the descendants of apes and pigs.” Meanwhile, in the streets of Cairo mobs attack our embassy, burning our flag while Morsi does nothing.
President Obama’s response?
To cut off (or threaten to cut off) foreign aid to Egypt? No. To recall our Ambassador in protest? No. Waldo’s government took the bold step of giving the Egyptians 20 of our top fighter jets, as well as 200 of our all-but-unstoppable M-1 Abrams super-tanks!
Bet that makes our Israeli allies feel more secure.
Syria has become a killing field, with Iran and Russia supporting the bloody dictator, Assad, while the Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates support the insurgents. This is part of the larger bid by Iran for hegemony in the Middle East, as well as our “restarted” friend Vladimir’s attempt to make Russia again relevant in the region (something it hasn’t been since the fall of the Soviet Union).
Speaking of Iran, the clock is ticking down as it grows ever closer to building its first nuclear weapon. It already has missiles capable of hitting Israel, which it has promised to destroy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned repeatedly that when Iran’s bomb is on the verge of going critical, Israel will act; with or without America.
So, where’s Waldo?
Playing golf with Tiger.
It is ironic that a man who campaigned so hard and successfully to be President of the United States doesn’t seem to really want the job. That a guy who is now Commander in Chief of the world’s mightiest military only wants to disband it and make war on Republicans.
Second terms are notoriously tricky for all Presidents, who loose relevance as their time in the White House runs down and they become lame ducks. This is the first President in my memory who has made himself irrelevant, on the world stage, by the end of his first term. By “leading from behind”, Obama has made America irrelevant.
In 2006, then Senator Barack Obama’s memoir, “The Audacity of Hope” was a bestseller. Perhaps now-President Obama should release a new book, recounting his masterful demagoguing of the sequestration debate. He could title it, “The Audacity of Deceit”!
What can one say about a President who first proposes and signs into law an across the board spending cut proposal, called sequestration, to be triggered only if the Congressional Supercommittee could not reach agreement on necessary spending cuts; and then, when his proposal becomes reality, not only denies he had any part in its creation but blames it on the Republicans, using it as a club to beat them with?
His admirers call it political genius. I call it demagogic chutzpah.
As Bob Woodward (aka, White House Public Enemy Number One) clearly documented in his reporting on the issue, the proposal for “draconian” sequestration cuts to the grossly bloated Federal budget originated in the White House; not among the Republicans, as Obama now would have the ill-informed believe.
What makes this particularly audacious is that the President who now decries the severe effect these cuts will likely have is the same man who in November derailed GOP attempts to get rid of the sequester by threatening to veto any such bill if it came to his desk.
“There will be no easy off-ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure,” the president said on November 21, 2012.
There was, of course, no “compromise” offered by either the President or the Democrats in the Senate. A compromise means giving the other guy some of what he wants, so that you can get some (but not all) of what you want. The Dems demanded to have it all their own way, with additional tax raises with none of the (necessary) spending cuts Republicans were expecting. (Expecting, because after they gave in to the President’s demands for tax raises at the end of the “Fiscal Cliff” debate they were led to believe the President was serious about compromise and a “balanced approached”; and the that now it was the Democrats turn to give in on spending cuts.)
Are we to believe that having forced the sequester cuts to become reality by threatening to veto any measure that would have stopped the sequester, Obama now has no culpability in its effects?
Now that the sequestration has gone through, the President and his people rush to the “bully pulpit” to decry the very mechanism he put in place. Worse, they paint a totally false picture of just how severe the effects of such cuts really will be.
If these are what modern America calls ”draconian”, then long-dead Draco must be shaking his head in disgust within his now-lost grave!
These cuts represent a reduction of about one week’s spending by the Federal government. Yes, that’s right: a single week. These “draconian” reductions are only about 2-3 percent of the budget; spread over 10 years! If the fat-laden Federal budget can’t be reduced by a miserly 3%, and that cut only to proposed growth (the dirty-little-poorly-kept secret is that this is only a cut to the growth in spending, not to the actual budget itself; the Federal budget and our National Debt will still continue to balloon)… Well, ladies and gentleman, turn out the lights now: we are truly doomed to bankruptcy.
In the face of dire “the sky is falling” predictions by the President and spokespersons for his Administration, Republicans in Congress offered a bill that would give the President complete authority to take the spending cuts out of the “fat” in the budget (such as “team building” vacations by highly paid bureaucrats to places like Hawaii at the tax payer’s expense); instead of to vital or popular services (such as White House tours).
What was Obama’s response?
Not just no, but HELL NO! Again, the President threatened to veto such authority if Congress tried to give it to him.
No way the President wanted the buck to stop at his desk! That would have made blaming the Republicans in Congress all the harder.
But I digress.
That Obama can describe the horrors of sequestration with a straight face is laughable. Especially as now, after the event has come to pass, we see report-after-report contradicting the dire warnings of the Administration.
Long lines at the airports? Nope, not happening. Airports are reporting wait-time at normal, pre-sequestration rates.
Teachers being furloughed? This claim is especially deceitful on the face of it: teachers (like policemen, firemen, and other First Responders) are not Federal workers. They are not paid from nor affected by (in any significant way) reductions to the Federal budget!
But truth has always been fungible to this President; who relies on a gullible public not to catch such subtleties, and a lap-dog press who won’t hold him accountable for such dishonesty.
What is really going on here is like Lucy and Charlie Brown: Lucy (Obama) holds the football for Charlie Brown to kick. Trusting fool, he once again falls for it; running forward to kick the ball. Once again, as always, Lucy pulls the ball back at the last minute; and Charlie Brown ends up falling on his ass!
When they accepted the President’s sequestration proposal, the Republicans once again fell for it. They forgot that they are dealing with a master of deceit.
A demagogue of breathtaking audacity.