By Jed Babbin, American Spectator
In his debate with Jimmy Carter on October 28, 1980, Ronald Reagan looked at the television cameras and said, “Ask yourself, ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’” It’s always a good political question, but it’s too often not asked outside the context of our domestic issues.
The question is equally important if it’s focused outward: who among our enemies and allies are better off now than they were on the day President Obama was inaugurated? The answers are a cacophony of bad news, as bad as the answer to the current domestic version of the question.
Let’s go down the list. Since January 2009, how have Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, Afghanistan, Israel, and our European allies fared? Has Russia or China become less powerful or more aligned with America’s interests?
Iran has become far more powerful and much closer to achieving its nuclear weapons ambitions in the past three years and eight months. [snip]
Iran’s nuclear programs have been undeterred — and unaffected — by the several rounds of economic sanctions that we have tried to impose. Its missile force is vastly improved and expanded. And Obama willfully ignored our opportunity to help topple the Iranian kakistocracy in 2009. In sum, Iran is much better off today than it was in 2009.
Israel is worse off in direct proportion to Iran being better off. Actually, Israel is exponentially worse off: because of Obama’s break with Israel and his refusal to take any action that would have ended Iran’s nuclear pursuits (the Stuxnet computer worm notwithstanding, because its effect was brief and temporary). [snip]
Pakistan fares better since 2009. Its sponsorship of the Taliban and the terrorist Haqqani network (belatedly labeled “terrorist” last week by the Obama administration) is thriving. The Taliban, and the Islamist ideology that pervades both Pakistan and Afghanistan, have combined to pull off so many “green on blue” attacks in which Afghani forces have killed U.S. and coalition troops, that the training of the Afghan security forces has been suspended. [snip]
The comparison of 2009 and 2012 reveals much the same results around the world. China continues its “slow rise,” becoming more powerful militarily even though its economy has slowed. China’s bellicosity has increased considerably in confrontations with the nations in its “near abroad.” The brief military confrontation between Chinese and Japanese forces over the Senkaku Islands off Japan — under which are rich oil and gas fields — passed without an American response. [snip]
Russia is no longer the “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” of Churchill’s day. Vladimir Putin has returned to the Russian presidency that he never really gave up. Since Obama’s presidency began, Putin has maneuvered Obama into a new arms control treaty that, for the first time, links our missile defense program with offensive nuclear forces. [snip]
Geopolitically, our European “allies” are faring no better than their economies. From the beginning, Obama has shunned Britain symbolically — by returning the Churchill bust that had graced the Oval Office — to his declaration of American neutrality in the revived dispute between the U.K. and Argentina over the Falkland Islands. France, as always, is genetically hopeless. Obama’s joining in France’s war for Libyan oil emboldened Sarkozy’s France, but France’s military effort there has exhausted its — and NATO’s — ability to act. [snip]
Our worst-faring enemy — Syria — is beset by a civil war from which Obama has remained aloof. Obama’s first defense secretary, Bob Gates, said we had no national security interest in Libya but Obama intervened nevertheless. Syria, in which we have a vital security interest in toppling a terrorist state, is now beyond our reach, supported directly and strongly by both Russia and Iran. The only other enemy that has fared badly under Obama is al Qaeda. SEAL Team 6′s raid that killed Osama bin Laden deprived the terrorist network of its symbolic leader. But, in truth, al Qaeda’s loss hasn’t reduced its abilities below the level achieved under George Bush [snip]
Egypt, which was a weak ally, is now in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, an international radical group that is — as Andy McCarthy has written extensively — conducting a silent jihad against us at home.
In sum, who is better off now than they were four years ago? America’s enemies are, not our allies.