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John Kerry was a man of his long-gone times:  the 1960s.  He admired the Western European social democracies, particularly that of the French, with their cinema, socialism, complexity, six week vacations, and mostly harmless student riots. 

Obama, by contrast, is a man of the multiculturalist branch of leftism, which emerged in the 1980s.  This group sees its heroes in the Sandanistas, Nelson Mandela, Black Panthers, and the Third World generally.  Its heroic events include the L.A. Riots and the expulsion of European “colonists” from places like Rhodesia.  So it’s not terribly surprising that Obama’s abilities as a diplomat have  consisted mostly of egregious displays of subservience to Third Worlders and non-white leaders in general, such as the Emperor of Japan.  Most important, his lopsided Third World focus has begun to create a minor rift with our civilizational forebears in Europe.

For the record, I thought that some of the conservative venom directed against Western Europe and France during the run-up to the Iraq War was ignorant and short-sighted.  I said so at the time.  John Kerry may have been anti-American in many important ways, but at least he remained rooted in Western Civilization for his models of good government. 

Obama is something different and more dangerous.  Obama doesn’t just want good social services and economic equality, which are the things a John Kerry might admire in Sweden.  Rather, it appears that Obama wants to see the white upper classes collectively brought low in dramatic and humiliating fashion.  Why else the repeated refusal to defend his putative people–his fellow Americans–from calumnies and insults and disrespect by foreigners?

Obama will hobble America and reduce its power and prestige not for spite, though that’s part of it, but also as an act of justice, rebalancing the scales relative to the Third World, in which he sees nations of nonwhite people who are chiefly defined by collectively having been oppressed one time or another by the mean white people of both the First and Second Worlds. 

Why else the snubbing of Nicholas Sarkozy and also Dmitri Medvedev?  Why else the obsequious bowing to the Saudi King and Japanese Emperor, while remaining cool to the British and Germans and Poles?  Why else the extreme unease with waging war in Afghanistan after having promised to do so? 

While Obama is a proud and even somewhat narcissistic man, he finds it very difficult and unnatural to stand up for the United States in the face of criticism that channels the rhetoric of multiculturalism and racist oppression.  When this happens, he is completely morally and psychologically disarmed from critics and will accomodate them to an extreme degree rather than assume the role of America’s first citizen.  Whey else his refusals to condemn Al Sharpton, Farrakhan, Professor Gates, or anyone else on the black left of the United States in his entire life, even when they act ridiculously? 

Obama is someone of an uncertain and also a self-chosen identity.  He made this choosing of his blackness completely in spite of his mixed heritage and white relatives.  This deliberate identification of the idealized people of his  idealized absentee father has always made the sting of “selling out” the worst, most painful cross for the “black” Obama to bear.  He’s insecure about his blackness, even after spending so many years at his crazy church, as a community organizer, and in the household of his more authentically African-American wife.  There’s no slaves in his family tree, unless they were owned by other blacks in Kenya.  This insecurity about selling out is equally vital wether the criticism is levided by a Bobby Rush or the Emperor or Japan or Daniel Ortega.  Having become the American President, far from aleviating this insecurity, makes him doubly determined to show everyone that he knows who his people are:   the multihued oppressed everywhere, not the America which is still 75% white, whose wealthiest and most long-established cohort for many years held “his people” in chattel slavery.

The justice that Barack Obama seeks, it is increasingly clear, focuses on the resolution of “north south conflicts,” or, in other words, whites versus everyone else.  This view of world history was spoken of until now mostly in late night dorm-room bull sessions.  Now it informs the President of the United States.   His foreign policy, in particular its symbolism, is the practical implementation of Jeremiah Wright’s condemnation of  “a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people.” 

Look at his words. Look at his deeds.  Little else but Obama’s racial psychodrama writ large and its associated and distorted concepts of “justice” explain his strange behavior.

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I’ve long thought the Republican obsession with free trade was not only bad politics but a bit of bad policy.  A recent Washington Post article asks the question whether trade–which had a lot to do with our lopsided economy, as US dollars overseas filtered back looking for a safe investment and found it in Mortgage-Backed-Securities–has been a net positive for the US economically:

A few months ago, Robert Cassidy found himself pondering whether trade actually benefited the American economy. “I couldn’t prove it,” he says. “Did it benefit U.S. multinational corporations? Yes. But I cannot prove that it benefits the economy.”

Such doubts would hardly be news if they came from an established critic of free trade. But Robert Cassidy was the chief U.S. negotiator on China’s 1999 market access agreement with the United States — the document that was the basis for Congress’s extension of permanent normalized trade relations to China, which in turn enabled China to join the World Trade Organization. During the 1990s, Cassidy was the assistant U.S. trade representative for the Asia-Pacific region, and before that he worked in the Treasury Department’s international affairs office.

Republicans did not always embrace free trade so uncritically.  In the 1980s, Reagan strong-armed the Japanese to open up their markets, for example.  In the late 1800s, the Republicans were famous for presiding over an industrial policy of protective tariffs. Conservatives have long recognized the value of the nation as an important community of interest, which follows a different logic and pursues other goods besides economic ones.

The free trade orthodoxy is so entrenched on today’s right and the  mainstream Democratic Party–in sharp contrast to the prevailing attitude even in the 1980s–that the least deviation is quickly swatted down, as if we must all become either Davos Man or Dick Gephardt with nothing in between.

I’m for a certain amount of free trade, but oppose trade that (a) hurts the American economy on net, particularly by hurting export industries without a net gain in jobs and productive capacity, (b) hurts our national defense, (c) strengthens illiberal dictatorships, or (d) does not include sufficient buffers between our economy and the various unfriendly regimes around the world whether China, Indonesia, or Iran.

I happen to like free trade with Mexico, but would have not traded a penny with the Chinese starting around 1990 or so when the Cold War ended, preferring instead to isolate them and strengthen the American manufacturing sector.  It’s good for our third world neighbor to do well, even partially at our expense. On China, though, it’s not good for a global competitor and future great power to succeed at our expense and for us to be too dependent on them.  Their cheap dollar subsidy, low cost manufacturing, and the smoke and mirrors of easy credit have distorted our economy and theirs and made us too mutually interdependent for our mutual independence and strength.

In the 1880s, Britain infamously put Egypt into receivership when it defaulted on its debts. While I don’t see anyone able to impose such a dreary condition on the US, we can soon expect foreign creditors to dictate their terms and our policies more freely.  This would not be good, needless to say, and the joys of cheap plasma televisions from China would hardly make up for our loss of independence.  We can live without cheap Chinese trinkets; we cannot live in any normal sense of that term under foreign control.  I should think an American politicians could be very popular in such a circumstance by promoting massive foreign debt repudiation, even though such a move would undeniably be very costly going forward.   We’d soon find out if Americans were more attached to their flag and their independence or, rather, easy credit and cheap trinkets imported from low wage foreign regimes.

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