What happens when the lead dog, the lead bull, or the lead stallion weakens? Fighting - until a new one emerges. That could happen quickly or it could take a while. If the United States is perceived by the rest of the world to be in decline, we can expect fighting to increase worldwide.
Perception is reality in politics, especially in a democracy because people vote based on their perceptions of candidates or issues. Americans perceived Barack Obama as a brilliant, articulate leader who would bring Americans together to solve common problems here and in the rest of the world. That resulted in his election. Perception is indeed reality in politics, and its also true that war is an extension of politics by other means. When the rest of the world perceives President Obama as weak, America is going to be challenged. It’s already starting. Expect it to escalate this year.
Most historians point to periods of relative peace over the past two millennia starting with “Pax Romana,” or the “Peace of Rome,” which lasted about two centuries from the time of Augustus in 27 BC to the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 AD. Why? Because most of the world knew Roman legions were so strong that to challenge them was futile. There were uprisings, sure. Jewish Zealots rebelled in Israel, but they were put down so thoroughly and decisively their uprising became the exception that proved the rule. Others watched and heeded as Rome killed more than a million Jews and scattered the rest across the empire in the Great Diaspora. Then came “Pax Brittanica,” which lasted about half as long - 1815-1914. The world knew it was futile to challenge British rule as enforced by its navy. Then came the “Pax Americana” which began in 1945. How long will it last? As long as the world perceives it’s futile to challenge the United States. My guess, sadly, is that it won’t last much longer.The 52% of Americans who voted for Obama in 2008 believed he would charm the world as he had charmed them, as he (at first) charmed Europeans. So, when Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons, President Obama said in January, 2009 that he would talk to them without preconditions. It looks like he really believed he could simply charm the mullahs into giving up their ambitions. This is a country that declared war on the United States back in 1979, that calls America “The Great Satan,” that brings together millions of its people year after year to chant “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” in the streets of Tehran. Again and again, the Iranian president promises to “wipe Israel off the map.” They’ve amassed proxy armies in Gaza and Lebanon that shoot rockets at Israel regularly. What was Obama thinking? What hubris.The mullahs now threaten to close the Strait of Hormuz through which 20% of the world’s oil passes. Just the threat caused prices to jump 2%. An actual attempt could be catastrophic to an already-precarious world economy. Using fast “suicide bomb boats” with warheads would invite swift and deadly response from the US Fifth Fleet. Imagine what shooting and/or bombing in the Persian Gulf would do to oil futures? We’re already looking at $5-a-gallon gas in just a few months, and that’s only if things stay calm.Then there’s the inevitable Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Obama Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expects it within the next four months. Remember - modern Israel was founded to prevent a repeat of the Holocaust. Iran denies there ever was one but promises another.Israel knows talk is cheap. They know appeasement didn’t work with Hitler when Chamberlain tried it and it won’t work with Iran’s mullahs either. Israel cannot and will not stake its survival on lyrical speeches by Obama. One thing it shares with Iran is the perception that Obama is a weak commander-in-chief - all talk and no action - and that makes war a virtual certainty. Just imagine what all this will do to the world’s economy when oil prices skyrocket and even the availability of oil becomes spotty. Rationing anyone? With all this looming, what did Obama do? Caving to the environmental whackos in his party, he shut down construction of the Keystone pipeline. What is he thinking?Barack Obama portrayed himself as the harbinger of “Hope and Change” when he said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person . . . We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” The 66 million Americans who voted for him had probably that many perceptions of what the changes he effected would look like. I suspect that by the end of this summer, reality will not resemble any of those perceptions. Neither will it be what any had hoped for when they cast their ballots in 2008.However, another “Change” will be manifesting in voter perception come November - when Obama becomes “The one we’ve been waiting to get rid of.”