The single most important essay on the Obama administration’s first year is Charles Krauthammer’s “Decline is a choice.” It presents a sort of unified field theory of Obamaism, usefully collecting evidence to advance the argument that Obama’s domestic and foreign policy positions work together to support the decline of American power.
As Krauthammer more broadly puts it: “The current liberal ascendancy in the United States–controlling the executive and both houses of Congress, dominating the media and elite culture–has set us on a course for decline. And this is true for both foreign and domestic policies. Indeed, they work synergistically to ensure that outcome.”
Making the essential points, Krauthammer emphasizes the contraction of American power abroad. This is an area in which the Obama administration has already earned substantial points for style as well. Bowing and scraping has become something of a habit, literally and figuratively. To Krauthammer’s points one might add footnotes referring to Hillary Clinton’s salute to the Saudi king and the State Department’s $2.5 million foreign-aid earmark for Libya that was to include $400,000 for two foundations─one headed by Kaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, and another headed by his daughter (this earmark has been reworked following its exposure).
What is to be done? Here Krauthammer is simply prescriptive: “Resist retreat as a matter of strategy and principle. And provide the means to continue our dominant role in the world by keeping our economic house in order.” For now, it is enough that he has described the syndrome that afflicts us.
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