Nov 22, 2010 10:07 am


No, it is not my judgment. It is the judgment of Clive Crook, FT liberal columnist and Obama supporter.

This weekend’s Nato summit in Lisbon concluded a flurry of top-level international meetings that, from President Barack Obama’s point of view, were frustrating, unproductive, or plain embarrassing. However, his advisers wish you to know that US standing in the world is not the least bit diminished. Really, they say, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about this. . . .

If ever there were a case of protesting too much, this is it. America’s ability to get its way is in recession. The question is not whether this is true, but how deep and long-lasting the reversal will be. Will US influence bounce back, or has something shifted for good?

Not that he does not join the excuses brigade. He does. He even blames W., inflated expectations and failure to recognize that Obama is right!

The truth is that American weakness is making Asia just as nervous as Europe used to be during the Cold War. Then, Western Europe enjoyed demonstrating its independence from"overbearing Washington" by cozing up to the Soviet Union secure under the American umbrella. But when that umbrella seemed to be developing holes as it did under Carter, fear ensued. That was the reason, Reagan found them more cooperative.

The same is currently true about Asia. Asian countries enjoyed cozying up to Communist China as long as they trusted the American naval umbrella. But once the Chinese have begun to demonstrate their ability to poke holes in that umbrella as they did in the recent confrontation with Japan. Asians got nervous.

For if there is something more scary than an assertive America, it is a weak one. I suspect the next president would find a free world anxious to cooperate in the reassertion of American leadership. Yes, there is always a silver lining. Not that the price of the Obama years will not be high. Let us not forget that we are still paying for Carters follies in Afghanistan and Iran.

Crook already notes one of the longterm legacies of Obama Third Worldism:

Much of this may be temporary. The political and economic cycles will turn. Interests will converge – and when they do, US allies will not merely offer their co-operation, they will ask to be led. But US power is unlikely to recover all the way. Challenging the US presumption of leadership will prove habit-forming, and evolving institutions of global governance, reshaped under the current dispensation of global power, will surely help that process along.

It is harder for the US to bully the G20, for example, and not just because the new group is bigger than its predecessor. Its members’ interests are also less well aligned; and China, Brazil and India are less willing to defer than Japan and the big European powers were in their day. It matters that the character of the G20 is being formed when the US is weakened; rather than later, when more normal conditions prevail.

He is wrong about India and Japan. They are most anxious to cooperate but his larger points stand. Senator Mitch McConnell is right. Defeating Obama in 2012 must be a top priority to anyone who believes that a resurgence of American power is not only for America but for the free world.

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