In between golfing expeditions on his recent extended summer vacation, the President of the United States must have at various times noted the recent news of the day. There was of course that irritating Hillary Clinton struggling to explain how she had determined to house the nation’s secrets on an unguarded server for her own benefit, as a matter of preference. Then there was that silly Donald Trump ranting about something or the other. Most importantly, it appeared the various golf outings had managed to secure the Iran deal with his democrat politicos, making it possible for a non treaty, with provisions no one has seen, and inspections no one intends to uphold, secure the jihadist radicals as the secure rulers of an Iran emerging as world power for the next President to deal with. That last bit of news, now that was a good one.
Lining up the putt on the 18th green of the Cape Cod golf course, perhaps the President briefly gazed upon the vast ocean that separated his country from the continents beyond, and thought, how wonderful a time of peace can be. After all, he had ended two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, pulled American influence completely out of the Middle East, and punctured the quant and old fashioned American resolve to try to always do the right thing, no matter how difficult or potentially risky the situation. That martial, imperial impulse that had dominated American foreign policy since the beginning of World War II had finally met its overdue demise under the disciplined, steady direction of this smartest of all presidents. Now, finally, some real Peace. And the opportunity to spend the Peace Dividend on more pressing needs.
Unfortunately, it turns out, it is our Peace, their War. Despite the determination to remove the warmonger USA from inciting the locals in the Middle East, warmongering has continued at an accelerated pace. An increasingly nasty war contagion is filing the void created by the American withdrawal, and the damage is cataclysmic. Michael Ledeen, a long standing Middle East observer, notes that increasingly larger players are taking sides and developing war strategies in the region that supposedly would have been pacified by removal of the American hegemonist, and are savagely feasting on the carcasses of Syria, Iraq, and Libya the Americans left behind. The visible result is human misery on a massive scale, with millions of refugees fleeing the horror most profoundly effecting Syria, and risking everything to come to the shores of a Europe that doesn’t want them. The Arab nations, trained for decades on the ability to ignore Palestinian refugee plight, are comfortable with thrusting all the refugees toward the hated ottomans in Turkey and the colonialists in Europe, making sure none land in their own countries and mess with their oil monies. The Russians, who have always been world players, seek to mold the war in a way that serves their interests, and are increasingly taking a direct role in the mad center of the tornado, Syria. The greatest war strategists of all are Obama’s new partner, the Iranians, buying anti-ship missiles from the Russians for when it becomes time to clear American ships from the Persian Gulf, strategizing with the Russians to secure President Assad’s position in the Syrian holocaust, and reaping real casualties from the Saudi and United Arab Emirate troops in Yemen, testing their resolve and willingness to die for their oil princes.
War and Peace. Throughout history, the two expressions of human existence have always co-existed, each preventing the other through hard choices. Peace is not the absence of war, but the prevention of it. Despite all the historical precedents, the President thought somehow by withdrawing the policing forces from a pacified Iraq, removing the leadership of Libya and defining no alternative, ignoring the progressive disaster of Syria as if it were a local affair, and releasing the restraints on a jihadist Iran, peace would ensue. Instead he, and the U.S. leadership to come, will have War. Europe, other than Great Britain, always willing to avert its eyes from responsibility and assume that the victory in the cold war was achieved by the attractions of passivist socialism, is now facing the reality of millions of entrants to their societies, and the urgent need to do something. The something is unlikely to allow them to wait to be rescued once again by the U.S. If Europe’s recent brief period of “peace” is to be extended, they may have to finally be willing to admit that the concept of Peace does not survive without constant, aggressive vigilance and defense. The millions and millions of people caught in the middle, as always, will be the sentinel sacrifices, of the dithering democracies.
The President, in his final year of office, probably has plans to enjoy the Peace dividend he has created, and get in some serious golf. I suspect, that War, is going to turn out to be his very uncomfortable caddy.