By Victor Davis Hanson // Works and Days by PJ Media
In Havana recently, President Obama talked of the similarities between Cuba and the United States, as if a constitutional republic of some 240 years and a thuggish and murderous communist dictatorship were kindred souls. In Argentina, Obama both tangoed and then apologized for the nth time for his country while abroad, this time supposedly for not opposing the brutal Argentine military dictatorship at the height of the Cold War. He also advised young people that there was not that much difference between communism and capitalism—without giving them a glimpse of his own retirement plans that will make the Obamas fabulously rich by following the hyper-capitalist post-presidential get-rich program of the Clintons.
Obama also missed the irony that, while he had just warmed up to a present-day Cuban dictatorship with blood on its hands, he then blamed his distant predecessors for warming up to a long-gone Argentine dictatorship with blood on its hands. Argentine General Galtieri and his predecessors, who may have overseen the killing of some 20,000, are long dead; Raul Castro, who may have the blood of about the same number on his hands, is very much alive—and in the back-slapping company of President Obama. So the next chief executive might return to Argentina to apologize to its youth for his predecessor having suggested that capitalism and communism were essentially synonymous—given the 100 million people of the 20th century who were slaughtered by their own communist governments in China, the Soviet Union and Cambodia.
As his presidency winds down, and there so far appears no positive legacy from it, Obama seeks his iconic moments at others’ expense—reaching out to communist Cuba, sidestepping the U.S. Senate to conduct a treaty with Iran, redefining Israel as a neutral, dismissing radical Islamic terrorism as a mere generic jayvee-like threat, hoping to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, dissolving the U.S. southern border, and through the destruction of federal immigration law remaking the political demography of the U.S.
No one now believes that the Affordable Care Act fulfilled any of Obama’s campaign promises: many of the once happily insured lost their plans, lost their doctors, and now pay considerably higher copays, deductibles, and premiums. Polls continue to show serial public unhappiness with Obamacare. These are not just Republican talking points. Bill Clinton has called the last eight years “disastrous” and Chelsea Clinton promised that her mother would rectify the “crushing costs” of Obamacare.
Perhaps our next president should also apologize for the government’s transformation of once reliable government agencies—the Secret Service, IRS, VA, NASA, and NSA—into either sinecures for political cronies and politically correct incompetents, or somewhat corrupt, politicized ministries. He could also swear that a president will never again demagogue racial relations in pursuit of short-term political advantage, or vow to the American people never again to double the national debt in just eight years and to fob such gargantuan obligations off on future generations.
The next president should also undertake an Obama-like apology tour overseas. I suggest the following stops. First, he should call on the Iraqi government to offer apologies for Obama’s precipitous and reelection-driven pullout of all U.S. peacekeepers that led to the breakup of the country, tens of thousands of dead, and the creation of ISIS. The next government could also offer regrets for Obama’s strange assertion that ISIS was already “contained,” analogous to a jayvee team, and not a serious threat—as it expanded and harvested Westerners from San Bernardino to Paris and Brussels.
Then President 45 could visit Libya, and express remorse for the lead-from-behind U.S bombing—without congressional approval and exceeding the no-fly-zone/humanitarian aid resolutions of the UN—that ruined the country and turned it into a terrorist wasteland. While overseas, our next president could also issue a mea culpa for the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, whose murders were likely preventable if a resolute president had taken charge. He might also make amends for the politicized jailing of a video-maker, scapegoated for the administration’s own errors, as well as a host of cruel inanities about Libya uttered by Secretary of State Clinton, while in and out of office: the “what difference does it make?” nonchalance about American dead, a crude boast over Gaddafi’s macabre murder (“We came, we saw, he [Gaddafi] died”), and a later assertion that “we didn’t lose a single person” in Libya.
Next stop would be Syria, where over 250,000 may have been butchered, and millions sent abroad as refugees. Americans might not have been able to stop entirely the Syrian genocide, but Obama ignored a brief window in which it might well have been possible to arm legitimate opponents of the Assad regime. He issued, then ignored—and finally denied issuing—red lines about WMD use, and in exasperation invited into the Middle East Russian President Vladimir Putin, who began bombing opponents of Bashar Assad. Our next government in 2017 could offer a threefer “we are sorry” for all that.
The next president could also make another Syria-related apology tour, hitting Lebanon, Baghdad, Ankara and Berlin, to note our remorse in watching Syria’s refugees and terrorists swarm the world. He could express guilt for allowing thousands of Christians to be butchered in, and ethnically cleansed from, the Middle East, without any effort to offer either aid or sanctuary. Obama’s successor could also hit Cairo, where he might try to explain to the Muslims, Coptics, and the old Mubarak Egyptian military why they all apparently hate us, and why we are sorry for intervening in their affairs when we were clueless about facts on the ground. The next president could apologize for the U.S. green-lighting of the Iranian bomb program, finishing up in Tel Aviv to reassure the Israelis that we did not really intend to make our only democratic friends in the Middle East neutrals or worse.
Throughout these apology stops, the next president could offer a few Cairo-like orations on the peculiar nature of the Western therapeutic mindset that has resulted in such American-inspired chaos abroad. There is a strain of the affluent, leisured westerner, President 45 might lament to our critics, who—after never having worked in the private sector, and having grievanced his way from one academic or political job to the next—seeks to reconcile his own privilege by claiming abstract victimhood for himself and blanket culpability on the part of his country, especially while abroad and in the company of the illiberal and antidemocratic.
The next post-Obama president could say of such apology tours that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”