United States President Barack Obama’s last week or so has been rough, both in domestic and foreign policy.
Domestically, there were the two Senate Finance Committee votes against the “public option” aspect of the proposed health care bill. The real crisis however for the President personally may have been the rejection of Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics, which Mr. Obama was apparently convinced could have been almost assured with his supportive personal appearance at the bid process in Copenhagen.
Bad news from Afghanistan, which the President and others have long insisted is the proper theatre of war against the terrorists who attacked America over eight years ago, seems to dominate. In a related matter, Iran, a recognized state sponsor of terrorism, has been found to have yet another secret facility for developing nuclear capability near the city of Qom. Although every honest thinker on the subject is hardly surprised, it was the political judgment of the US President not to break this news during his maiden “non-proliferation-themed” address to the United Nations General Assembly. This action notoriously angered French President Sarkozy, for example.
Obama is no doubt mulling over these issues and beginning to realize what it means to hold the “loneliest job in the world”. His presidency could very well be defined in the next few weeks as a consequence of the decisions to be made in both realms—domestic and foreign. He could use some friendly counsel.
Before anything else however, the best advice I would personally give Mr. Obama is to be a man. Admit your mistakes, sir, and be honest with the American public as well as candid with both the international allies and numerous thugs at the United Nations.
As role models, Canadians are generally regarded as among the world’s “nice people”. Canada is not a major power to be sure, but the US is it’s biggest trading partner and many Americans hold Canada in high regard. So it has a certain status of respect. Certain celebrities for example, so disgusted by US political outcomes in years past, have often threatened to migrate to Canada in protest. Although most of them failed to do as promised, it does reveal a certain admiration for the fellows north of latitude 49. So let’s look to the example of Canada for some inspiration to guide Mr. Obama in his difficult time.
On the matter of health care, the US administration’s proposals have been modelled to some degree on the socialized medicine system in Canada. Many arguments have been presented pro and con, but it is an inescapable fact that Canadian health care is costly, rationed and characterized most notably by waiting lists for many services—surgeries in particular. Private insurance for catastrophic coverage is illegal. Now, as a result of legal challenges, there are movements afoot in Canada to restore a private insurance option.
The best advice Obama’s administration could take would be to admit the folly of pursuing socialized medicine and focus “reform” on something meaningful. He could start by actually addressing the reasons for high costs of health insurance: regulations on coverage, restrictions on interstate coverage, and the insane feature of employer-provided insurance. A truly competitive open market for insurance, where the insured makes his own choice of coverage appropriate to his health circumstances from over 1300 insurance companies in the United States, would most certainly lower costs and revive the concept of catastrophic coverage with varying deductibles.
As far as the fiasco that was the failed Olympic bid, it might have been better, in retrospect, for the President to keep a lower profile in such matters. The downside is just so significant for the investment made.
The schadenfreude among Obama critics was palpable in the many comments slung about the media. For example, on the President’s return home from Copenhagen, one wag observed, “The Ego has landed”.
Again, taking a tip from the low key Canadian Prime Minister might have served Obama well. But then, Canada is already hosting an Olympic event soon—the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. If they were so inclined, Canadians could be smug about that.
Taking inspiration on foreign policy from Canada is a bit trickier, since Canada is not a great power. However, Obama could again look to the Canadian leader, whose comments on Iran have always been honest and forthright about the threat posed by Iran. Harper reminded us recently of his long stand as a severe critic of Iran, warning all who would listen that the rogue state has hostile intentions.
President Obama, on the other hand, has spoken of Iran in measured tones, famously promising during his political campaign that he would seek to engage the regime’s leadership in discussions without “preconditions”.
On Afghanistan, the Canadians want to withdraw troops from that developing quagmire. This is probably just political fatigue, but it does offer a clue to the appropriate path for dealing with the problem of international terrorism.
No one I know has recently stated the most appropriate action to take with regard to addressing the problem of terrorism, which can only exist on the scale it does through state sponsorship. Iran has long been recognized as the key state sponsor of terrorism, and it is home to the most aggressive Islamic fascist regime on the planet.
The United States should seriously consider withdrawal from Afghanistan now. It could declare victory again and leave. The mission has never been clearly defined anyway so victory is an easy claim. Getting bogged down in Afghanistan and/or Iraq is a waste of resources when the true enemy is the Iranian regime.
In fact, the US has been engaged in war with the regime in Iran since 1979 with the takeover of its embassy by the revolutionaries. The US has just never acknowledged its participation nor become fully engaged. Now is well past the time to do it, before those lunatics set off a nuclear device aimed at Israel or at US installations in the Middle East and periphery.
Philosopher Leonard Peikoff advised in 2001 that the proper target for dealing with state-sponsored terrorism is Iran. Eight years and the deaths of too many American and allied troops later, it appears he was correct.
©Copyright 2009 Edward Podritske