Victor Davis Hanson: Who Will Bell America?

Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: Barack Obama, National Review, Victor Davis Hanson, Jimmy Carter

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals will appear in the spring from Bloomsbury Books.

Remember the medieval fable about the mice that wanted their dangerous enemy, the cat, belled, but each preferred not to be the one to attempt the dangerous deed? Likewise, the world’s bad actors have long wanted America belled, but, like the mice, so far they have not been stupid or daring enough to test America’s teeth and claws — that is, until now.

In 2008 Barack Obama campaigned on the general principle that the entire Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols were either superfluous or illegal. That opportunistic posturing resonated with a world audience eager for confessions of American wrongdoing. It probably helped to undermine U.S. influence abroad.

But no matter, all was forgotten at home the following year, when President Obama embraced or indeed expanded all the protocols he had once demagogued. Soon, as Predator-in-Chief, he increased the drone-assassination tally by a factor of ten. Other nations watched this about-face and took note of such opportunism for future reference.

“Reset” with Russia was predicated on the notion that George Bush, not the Russian autocracy, was responsible for the deterioration in Russian-American relations. Under reset, Barack Obama was more critical of his predecessor than he was of Vladimir Putin. The Russians were not naïve, and today they assume that the United States surely should blame itself, not Russia, when the two nations are at odds. If anything, Russia has become more autocratic at home and more bellicose abroad....

Read entire article at National Review

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