Conrad Black: Is Barack Obama the next James Buchanan?

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Conrad Black is a writer and former newspaper publisher whose most recent book is Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full (PublicAffairs, 2007). He is publisher emeritus of The National Interest.]

President Obama, who entered office on a wave of greater hope and optimism than any president since John F. Kennedy, is now generally seen as perhaps the most ineffectual president since James Buchanan. He has offered no economic prospect except a decade of trillion-dollar annual deficits and money-supply increases, and the Federal Reserve now proposes to jump-start that with a $600 billion Treasuries repurchase that would torque up inflation and tank the comparative value of the dollar, start a war of devaluations with the euro and the yen, and propel the world like an Olympic diver into the second half of the double dip. This is the litmus test that the United States is not really going to defuse the debt bomb, but is going to reduce the debt by devaluing the currency in which it will, assumedly, be repaid.

He has done little to support American allies in Latin America, including Mexico, where the failed American drug war has virtually plunged the country into civil war, has not lifted a finger to gain ratification of the free-trade deal with Colombia, has largely been surpassed by Brazil in hemispheric influence, and aligned America with Chavez and Castro in attempting to promote Communist dictatorship in Honduras.

Mr. Obama is the president least interested in Europe of any in U.S. history, and has encouraged the steady disintegration of the Western Alliance. His arms-control policy is fatuities about world disarmament that no sane person could take seriously, while pursuing a futile policy of porous sanctions against Iran over its nuclear-military program. If Iran achieves the status of a nuclear power, that will be the end of American status as any sort of superpower, and will lead to a massive multistate acquisition of deterrent nuclear capacity...

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