America has “rarely been stronger,” President Barack Obama said on May 28. He believes critics who challenge that assessment are either misreading history or are partisan ideologues. “Our economy remains the most dynamic on Earth, our businesses the most innovative,” he said. “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century past, and it will be true for the century to come” (emphasis added throughout).
Even as the world burns, this administration’s unrelenting response has been: Everything is awesome!
On July 14, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “I think that there have been a number of situations in which you’ve seen this administration intervene in a meaningful way that has substantially furthered American interests and substantially improved the tranquility of the global community.”
Not to be outdone, Secretary of State John Kerry said this about the administration on July 20: “The United States of America has never been more engaged in helping to lead in more places than we are now.” He said that with “every fundamental issue of conflict today, the United States is in the centerleading and trying to find an effort to make peace where peace is very difficult.”
“I think the American people ought to be proud of what this president has done in terms of peaceful, diplomatic engagement,” Kerry said. “I think the president’s on the right track and I think we have the facts to prove it.”
Global Chaos—the New Normal
Six years ago the United States had large armies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its national debt was $9.5 trillion. Egypt, Libya and Syria were comparatively stable. America’s traditional allies in Europe, Asia and even the Middle East still looked to the United States for leadership and assistance in time of need.
That’s not to say that everything was awesome. In fact, if you were reading the Trumpet at the time, you know that the United States was in bad shape. It’s just that it is much worse today than it was then.
Look at the facts. Since 2008, we have seen a new administration brush off its traditional allies, embark on an “apology tour,” draw down its forces and encourage its most dangerous enemies to rise in power. We have seen its Arab outreach fall flat. Its “pivot to Asia” never materialized. We have seen a U.S. ambassador murdered for the first time in 30 years. We have seen this administration allow Russia to take over handling the civil war in Syria, not to mention Russia literally taking over Crimea and destabilizing Ukraine. We have seen this administration soften its sanctions against Iran and abandon U.S. allies in Iraq.
America’s national debt is galloping toward $18 trillion, making the United States the greatest debtor nation in the world. Ninety-two million Americans are out of the labor force; 23 million are either unemployed or underemployed. The number of people on food stamps, welfare and disability are all at record highs. And all of this domestic instability comes at a time when tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are pouring across the southern border and America’s big cities are exploding in violence.
The world today is anything but tranquil.
“The breadth of global instability now unfolding hasn’t been seen since the late 1970s,” the Wall Street Journal reported on July 13. The New York Times followed a week later with this headline: “Crises Cascade and Converge, Testing Obama” (July 22). According to the Times, “Rarely has a president been confronted with so many seemingly disparate foreign policy crises all at once—in Ukraine, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere ….” These head-spinning events prompted the Los Angeles Times to wonder, “Is global chaos the new normal?” (July 29).
Many commentators in recent months have compared the world today to the way it was in 1914, at the outset of World War i. Before the Great War, there had been many breakthroughs in technology—particularly in the fields of travel, communication and trade. The world was getting smaller. A popular book at the time, called The Great Illusion, maintained that the world was too integrated—too sophisticated and advanced—to ever experience another large-scale world war.
Everything was awesome! That’s what many of the educated elites thought at the time. And then the war came.
“Today’s parallels with 1914 are very worrying,” the Telegraph wrote on August 1.
The Wall Street Journal makes a more striking comparison to the years before World War ii: “In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, not unlike John Kerry today, shuttled tirelessly between London and wherever Adolf Hitler consented to meet him to discuss a nonviolent solution to Hitler’s intention to annex the Sudetenland, the part of Czechoslovakia inhabited by ethnic Germans. Hitler earlier in the year had annexed Austria, with nary a peep from the world ‘community.’ Many said the forced absorption of Austria was perfectly understandable” (July 30).
Notice this recent headline from The Atlantic: “Yes, It Could Happen Again” (July 29). The trigger points that could start World War iii are now in place, the author contended. He even gave a lengthy hypothetical explaining how World War iii might start! Nothing makes this world more dangerous than American weakness, he wrote. “It is understandable that the United States is looking inward after more than a decade of post-9/11 war. But it is also worrying, because the credibility of American power remains the anchor of global security.”
In his article “As the world burns, America shrugs,” author Robert Fulford wrote: “The slow American withdrawal from world affairs has been apparent for a long time, but has never been so glaringly evident as this week in the Middle East” (National Journal, July 19). He referenced the latest round of warfare between Israel and Hamas, the brutal civil war in Syria, the territorial gains made by the Islamic State in Iraq, and Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
Fulford concluded, “The United States has a position of sorts in each of these arenas, but it’s not powerful in any of them. American influence has faded.”
But try telling that to an administration official or a spokesman at the State Department and you’re liable to provoke a retort like this: What are you talking about—everything’s awesome.
Another ‘Brilliant’ Stroke
This summer, while promoting her latest book, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about America’s deteriorating relationship with Russia. Clinton, you may remember, was the architect of the infamous “reset” strategy, which basically gave Russia a pass for its invasion of Georgia and then resulted in the removal of America’s missile defense systems from Eastern Europe and its abandonment of Ukraine. This essentially cleared the way for Vladimir Putin to devour Crimea and trigger a civil war in Ukraine.
“You famously pressed the reset button,” a bbc reporter reminded Mrs. Clinton in June. “Are you embarrassed by that now—that gesture?”
In other words, this was an awesome strategy at the time—and it keeps getting more awesome with each passing day.
In Iraq, Not Awesome—But …
Three years ago, President Obama said America’s withdrawal from Iraq was a culmination of a campaign promise he made before becoming president. “After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011,” the president said on Oct. 21, 2011. “So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.”
Later in 2011, he assured the American people that everything would be awesome in Iraq after America’s departure. “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. … This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making” (Dec. 14, 2011).
During his reelection campaign the following year, one of the applause lines he repeated hundreds of times was, I promised to end the war in Iraq and I did.
In June of this year, with the situation in Iraq having turned horribly bad, President Obama agreed to send Special Operations forces to help protect Baghdad. According to the New York Times, the administration accepted the same kind of immunity agreement from Iraq that it rejected in 2011, “when it opted to withdraw all American troops from Iraq rather than keep a residual force behind” (June 23).
It was the administration’s decision, in other words—not Iraq’s refusal to grant immunity to a residual force—that resulted in America’s full-scale withdrawal in 2011.
When questioned about that decision on August 9, President Obama said this: “This issue keeps on coming up as if this was my decision. The reason that we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because a majority of Iraqis did not want U.S. troops there and politically they could not pass the kind of laws that would be required to protect our troops in Iraq,” he said.
So everything might not be awesome in Iraq right now. But that’s the Iraqis’ fault—not ours.
When President Obama unilaterally invaded Libya in 2011, he said he had to act when he did because the city of Benghazi was only a day away from being slaughtered by Muammar Qadhafi’s forces. And so, the United States smashed Qadhafi’s army and handed the nation over to Libya’s rebel forces. They eventually captured the colonel, sexually assaulted him and then televised his public execution. At the time, the United States government laughed off the barbaric lynching and told us this: Everything in Libya would turn out awesome.
President Obama said Qadhafi’s death marked the end of a long and painful chapter in Libya. He said the people in the “new and democratic Libya” now had a chance to determine their own destiny. According to the president, Qadhafi’s demise came at a time “when we see the strength of American leadership across the world. We’ve taken out al Qaeda leaders, and we’ve put them on the path to defeat. We’re winding down the war in Iraq and have begun a transition in Afghanistan. And now, working in Libya with friends and allies, we’ve demonstrated what collective action can achieve in the 21st century” (Oct. 20, 2011).
Since making that statement, the reality on the ground has become frighteningly dangerous. First there was the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans on September 11, 2012—by the very terrorist militias America joined forces with the year before, by the way. And then this past summer, due to the ongoing civil war, the United States of America was forced to shut down its embassy in Tripoli.
Notice this warning, posted by the U.S. Department of State on July 26: “Extremist groups in Libya have made several specific threats this year against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests in Libya. … [T]ravelers should be aware that they may be targeted for kidnapping, violent attacks or death. U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately.”
Incredibly, just two weeks after the State Department told Americans to get out of Libya immediately, the Department of Homeland Security (dhs) lifted a 30-year ban on Libyan nationals attending flight schools and nuclear science training facilities in the United States. The ban was put in place during the Reagan era, following a wave of Libyan terrorist attacks. Today, however, dhs says the ban is obsolete because the United States and Libya have—and I’m not making this up—“normalized their relationship,” as the dhs directive states. According to dhs spokesman S.Y. Lee, the Obama administration is reviewing and revising its policies on Libya “to better align with U.S. interests in light of its revolution.”
Never mind that America has absolutely no presence in Libya today—not in Benghazi or in Tripoli. Never mind that American citizens have been warned, in the strongest possible terms, to get out of Libya now. What the administration wants you to know about post-revolution Libya is that it is new and democratic.
And its relationship with the United States is awesome.
A Modern-Day Rome
In August, while President Obama was vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, the foreign minister of France slammed the U.S. leader for being out of touch with the many crises that are now happening.
“I know it is the holiday period in our Western countries,” Laurent Fabius said during an interview, “but when people are dying, you must come back from vacation.” Even as hundreds of Christians and Yazidis were being slaughtered in Iraq, many Western leaders—not just President Obama—were on holiday.
Mr. Obama actually did return to Washington for a brief stint beginning on August 17. Before that, he broke away from vacationing to give a speech at a fundraising event in Tisbury, Massachusetts, on August 11. During that speech, he talked again about how awesome everything has been the past few years.
America today, he said, is stronger “in all sorts of ways,” compared to when he first came into office. America has added jobs. Unemployment is down. Deficit spending has been slashed. The stock market has rebounded. Corporate profits are booming. The housing market has recovered.
America is in the best position in the world, he said. “There’s no other country you’d rather be than the United States.” And even though the news is filled with negative stories about Ukraine, Gaza and the Ebola virus, the world still looks to America for solutions to these crises, he said.
“There’s a reason for that,” the president continued. “Because despite the complaints and the second-guessing, and the anti-American sentiment that you hear sometimes on television around the globe, when there’s an actual problem they all recognize we’re the one indispensable nation.”
There may be a few hot spots here and there, but as far as America’s power, prosperity and security is concerned—everything is awesome.
America’s leaders can fiddle away and pretend that the nation isn’t burning if they like. But facts, as former U.S. President John Adams once said, are stubborn things. By any objective indicator, the United States of America is far worse off than it was five or six years ago.
We’ve added $7 trillion to the national debt just under this administration. Americans are already overtaxed and the nation itself is bankrupt. No nation has ever been able to dig out of a financial pit this size.
Look at our moral decline—the breakdown of family and the epidemic of teen sex, cohabitation, same-sex “marriage,” children born out of wedlock and the curse of all curses—fatherlessness. Think about what family life is like along the crime-ridden streets of Chicago, Detroit and New York. Look at the race war in Ferguson.
Look at the assault on the U.S. Constitution. Look at the lawlessness promoted at the southern border, where hardened criminals and gang members are streaming across the Rio Grande along with all the other illegals. Everywhere we look, we see authority, discipline and justice being undermined by a spirit of rebellion and disobedience.
And look at the insatiable appetite Americans have for popular culture—for celebrities, sporting events and all other forms of entertainment.
Think about the gross ignorance and blindness of the average American who sincerely believes that everything, for the most part, is awesome.
That is what America’s leaders want him to believe. That’s why they say, “Peace, peace;when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).
If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, be forewarned. God says when the ambassadors of peace proclaim peace and safety—when they say everything is awesome—beware sudden destruction (1 Thessalonians 5:3).