Everyone Likes a Winner

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Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised.~Machiavelli

I noticed a change in the political zeitgeist in the weeks following the Russian takeover of Crimea.  Liberals in the media and all over the internet became more critical of Obama, but not merely of his response to Vladimir Putin’s adventurism. After noticing this, I recognized it for what it is: No one wants to be on the side they consider weak. The Left of course is almost always against military intervention, however the human psychology that Machiavelli pointed to centuries ago is still at work even in the minds of those that say they dislike militarism and “bravado”.


When President Obama first took office, his opponents criticized him for his Cairo speech, complaining that it showed weakness to the Muslim world and would not have the effect some hoped for. Even though I believe this is correct, the predictions were largely theoretical and difficult to prove.

The confrontations with Vladimir Putin on the world stage on the other hand provided the same stimulus to onlookers as does an athletic competition. While still open to debate, generally people had strong feelings about which leader was winning these contests, and the winner was not Obama. True or not, the perception is that Obama is weaker than Putin, and this may be fatal. The beginning of the end was the Syrian “Red Line”. Crimea sealed the deal.

So what we see happening is the subliminal rejection of weakness, even by those who always argue for the soft touch. No one likes weakness. Putin’s apparent strength is attractive not only to Russians, but even to liberals in America. While America’s initial response  to  the situation in Ukraine may have been tepid, I’ve argued that the recent moves by America’s president were correct, and bolder than Putin expected. But it came too late. When weakness is perceived, former supporters will begin to find all kinds of reasons to dislike their man in Cairo. Even Maureen Dowd laments: 

You are the American president. And the American president should not perpetually use the word ‘eventually.’ And he should not set a tone of resignation with references to this being a relay race and say he’s willing to take ‘a quarter of a loaf or half a loaf,’ and muse that things may not come ‘to full fruition on your timetable.’

“An American president should never say, as you did to the New Yorker editor, David Remnick, about presidents through history: ‘We’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.’

“Mr. President, I am just trying to get my paragraph right. You need to think bigger…

“Especially now that we have this scary World War III vibe with the Russians, we expect the president, especially one who ran as Babe Ruth, to hit home runs.

Make no mistake, the peaceniks love to crush their enemies, and they want a champion in office. One need only look at some of the tactics of the American Left when it comes to punishing dissent and political opponents. Some may agree that these tactics are justified, but it’s difficult for me to believe they are any less nasty than the supposedly more hawkish Right.  Even in the eyes of liberals, weakness is no virtue.

4 thoughts on “Everyone Likes a Winner

    uvalduvalcuckoo said:
    May 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    What’s going on in the Ukraine is beyond outrageous and the silence (I know, it’s not totally silent) is deafening. And you’re right, what’s happened with Putin is bordering on the media being starstruck. Never mind that Kerry just said Israel could be an Apartheid state. Forget about the reset button. This is Smart Diplomacy – everyone in the world loves us now b/c Bush is gone – or something. You can put some genies back in the bottle, but Foreign Policy wise, this administration has been about as big of a disaster as there’s ever been. Peace through incompetence and indecisiveness.

    T. J. Babson said:
    May 2, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Allies have started wondering if America will stand by them.

    Prepare for a nuclear Japan.

    magus71 responded:
    May 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Robert Kaplan says nationalism is rising in Japan again, too.

    Royce said:
    May 2, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Obama has failed on foreign policy from the outset. He sees no enemy outside of the US political right. Either he has never read Machiavelli or has failed to understand and apply any part of it outside of his internal politcal rivals. Putin and Bush did some belly bumping but Vlad seemed unwilling to push George too far. But once Vlad met Obama he knew that he was faced with a weakling and a man for whom he had no respect. The body language said it all. If there was ever any doubt the failure to enforce “the red line” and the passive support of Islam at every turn told Putin he had nothing to fear from Obama or the rapidly eroding American Military. The contemptuous response to America that we should use trampolines to reach the Space Station expressed how the Russian Government feels about Obama. Putin knows he is free to do whatever he chooses because no European country (NATO is more mouse than lion) has the military strength to oppose him and Obama is psychologically incapable of standing up to a street bully much less a ruthless KGB officer. The Romans did not allow anyone to be Consul or Proconsul without military experience — a lesson that seems to have been ignored by Harvard and the political left. Rome endured for a thousand years — America seems in decline after 200 years.

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