How The West Was Lost By The Selfie President


obama-mandela2By Michael Goodwin

My bookshelves sag with encyclopedic volumes arguing that America and the West are in decline. But proving that a picture is worth a thousand books, the “selfie” seen ’round the world ends the argument.

It’s official – the government of the United States of Obama consists of bores and is led by a narcissist. It is no consolation that Great Britain joins us in racing to the bottom.

President Obama’s incident with Denmark’s prime minister would be shameful on any occasion. That it happened at the memorial for Nelson Mandela only adds to the embarrassment.

But the “selfie” episode also symbolizes the greater global calamity of Western decline. With British prime minister David Cameron playing the role of Obama’s giggling wingman, the “look at me” moment confirms we have unserious leaders in a dangerously serious time.

Iran marches toward nuclear weapons and already there is talk in military circles that a nuclear-armed Iran could mean mushroom clouds in the Mideast within five years.

China is flexing its muscles throughout Asia, its ships brazenly confronting ours on the high seas. Russia is expanding its writ in the Arab lands and in Eastern Europe while making casual threats about bombing America. Syria’s Assad uses chemical weapons and Obama and Cameron rattle little sabers before meekly agreeing to become his partner.

The sign-language interpreter wasn’t the only fake at the Mandela funeral. Obama and Cameron were posing as world leaders.

They will never be confused with FDR and Churchill. The fratboys stand in stark contrast to the days when the “special relationship” meant two great leaders uniting two great countries in the fight for freedom. Those leaders understood the consequences if evil prevailed and were committed to victory.

Churchill coined the term “special relationship” during World War II and used it again in his “Iron Curtain Speech” in 1946 that marked the unofficial start of the Cold War. Fearful the West would disarm again, as it did after World War I, he wanted to combat communism by maintaining the “special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States.”

To him it meant our “kindred systems of society” must grow ever closer to provide mutual security and a framework for global peace. That special bond later cemented the Ronald Reagan-Margaret Thatcher partnership that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Try to imagine any of those four embarrassing their nations by acting like indulgent teenagers while civilization hung in the balance. You can’t because they wouldn’t.

Hitler’s greatest mistake was being born too soon. If he were on the march now, would there be will in Washington and London to stop him? Would there be an arsenal of democracy to save mankind from darkness?

In fact, while Obama and Cameron were yukking it up in South Africa, the White House was denouncing bipartisan efforts in Congress to pass more sanctions against Iran. Doing so, it said, would scuttle the feeble interim deal Obama and Cameron accepted. Incredibly, administration arguments echoed Iran’s position.

Try to imagine FDR and Churchill siding with Hitler against their national legislatures. You can’t because they were the antitheses of the appeasers of their times.

World War II proved that the international order collapses when there is no one to support and enforce it. Obama himself has said that, but apparently believes talk is sufficient.

Cameron also talks a good game, but hollowed out the British military to where it is no longer capable of sustained missions.

Words don’t matter to tyrants and genocidal maniacs. They push until they are convinced there will be consequences if they go further.

Our weakness invites their aggression and makes war more likely, not less. That is the perilous state of the world, as the clown kings of the West party on.


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  1. Mitzvahs are not always the comment of the yesteryear world’s concerns superimposed on the current day and age. This is not an issue if you have a sense of humor about human comedy. But I understand your concern, maybe the pope might be your understudy at the Vatican you are trying to form with your postulates of poor possibilities.

  2. The “Selfie’ phenomenon is proof that narcissism has established itself as one of the ascendant belief systems/frames of reference of many people, especially the youth, in many western nations. The old Judeo ideas of service to G-d and your fellow man as an intrinsic part of life has fallen by the wayside. When a community, group or nation worships false idols it either eventually implodes or other more enlightened cultures will hold sway over it. (BTW, this sway can be used for good, to help the affected group shift its state of consciousness, “Light unto the Nations” idea or it can be abused, i.e. Brave New World or 1984.

    Please take note…Self respect is quite different to narcissism. It’s about getting the balance right with one’s “Arc of Concern” between G-d, One’s Self, One’s Partner/Children/Family, Friends, Community, Nation, World, the Dead and the Yet to Come.

  3. I’m not a fan of the Obama administration, but I fail to see the calamity of taking a picture with his friends. Even if it is a memorial for Mandela, we don’t know when exactly it was taken.

    I agree with the comments about Iran in the article, but the more we resort to petty attacks on the president that have nothing to do with the Iran threat, the less convincing is our argument

  4. With all due respect to you (and others) that are making much to do about nothing. No big fan of Obama but let’s not make this more then what it really was. He took a delegation with him half way around the world to show his respects to this “great leader” (for sake of argument) and he shared a light moment with other world leaders while there was singing and much else going on. Your description of state of the world at present is very true yet I don’t think his few relaxed moments with other world leaders will make the world any less safe and so let’s all calm down and not make it any more then what it really was, which is absolutely nothing.

  5. “the Ronald Reagan-Margaret Thatcher partnership”

    Funny he mentions Reagan and Thatcher along with Mandela. Reagan and Thatcher didn’t want to do anything about the Apartheid regime, which was the last pro-Nazi state in the world.

    ” hollowed out the British military ”

    The US military is only a little better now than the UK military, and the budget cuts have been to please conservatives for whom tax cuts are the only thing that matters. It is the unwillingness of the wealthy to support their countries’ missions that will be the real cause of the decline of the west.

  6. While it may not be the end of the world if they have a good time, these leaders do look like a bunch of silly teenagers. I would expect more self-respect from them, especially in public. And even more so at a serious event as this one should have been.

  7. The worrying thing for England is that Denmark’s prime minster (unnamed woman in the photo) is the daughter-in-law of a previous opposition party leader in the UK (Neil Kinnock).