The Strong Horse, Barack Obama and the Collapse of American Influence

By 24 Comments 1,219 views

Robert Kagan had an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago. Titled “Power Failure” it discussed the parallels between the aftermath of WW I and today. In it he talks about the feeling in the US and the UK after WWI that war itself had seemingly become impossible.

Then as now, Americans and Britons solipsistically believed that everyone shared their disillusionment with war. They imagined that because war was horrible and irrational, as the Great War had surely demonstrated, no sane people would choose it.

That the US and Europe would pare back their military spending after a cataclysmic war is understandable. That the peace of the Roaring Twenties led them to believe that war was sufficiently passé it need no longer be prepared for is not. War has been a hallmark of human history since recorded time. Those few times when War seemed to be absent from large swaths of land it was often because peace was imposed at the tip of a sword, not because everyone just wanted to get along. While the Roman citizens who lived during Pax Romana enjoyed a relative peace, that peace was guaranteed by tens of thousands of soldiers dispersed throughout the Empire and along its borders.

The logical outcome of the winnowing of the American and British military muscle and resolve post WW I was of course WW II. From ignoring the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 to allowing Hitler to rearm in 1935 to abandoning the Czechs in 1938, it became increasingly clear to the Axis powers that they could act with impunity. It was only a matter of time before such appeasements led to a second world at war. As Kagan points out, we see a similar pattern today. Weakness begets belligerency. And that is the key takeaway from his piece, and from history in general.

The post WW II period has been one of the most peaceful in human history, primarily because of American – and to a lesser extent NATO – military strength. While hotspots cropped up from time to time in places like Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cuba and various other Latin American nations, there was a distinct absence of the world wide conflicts that highlighted the first half of the 20th century, and a dearth of wars between European states such as those that characterized much of the 18th and 19th centuries. A more recent example is the fact that after George Bush decided to go after the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, suddenly Muammar Gaddafi decided that he wanted to give up his terrorist ways. Conversely, as the west has appeased both Iran and North Korea, both nations have continued to develop nuclear weapons.

Osama Bin Laden may have been wrong on many things, but one thing he was right about was this: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse”. Today the strong horse is Vladimir Putin as he seeks to reassemble the Soviet empire. Today the strong horse is Communist China as it bullies its neighbors from Japan to Vietnam to the Philippines and thumbs its nose at Britain as it ignores the democracy agreement it signed on Hong Kong. Today the strong horse is ISIS as it shows its enthusiasm for raining down terror across Mesopotamia and showcasing the murder of innocents of children, civilians and foreign journalists.

Sadly, with Barack Obama holding the reins, America is no longer seen as the Strong Horse. Domestically as his major military initiatives involve eliminating the ban on homosexuality, shifting military spending to social programs and saddling American troops with dangerous Rules of Engagement, Americans are left wondering if the military is supposed to be a fighting force or a social experiment masquerading as a traveling vaudeville act. Internationally, with Obama’s not so red red lines, his abandoning of various allies, his feckless leadership in the face of uprisings in Iran, Libya and Syria, his tepid response to Russian and Chinese aggression and his explicitly taking “boots on the ground” off of the table in his response to ISIS, America looks like a papier-mâché tiger.

Whether it’s the “Peace Dividend” that came after the collapse of the Soviet Union or the relative peace in post Surge Iraq, liberals are like the man who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. They seek to bask in the glory of peace but denigrate how it was achieved in the first place. The Soviet Union did not collapse because Gorbachev was a nice guy who wanted to attend the then nascent Burning Man festival. It collapsed because it couldn’t compete with American military and economic might. Post Surge Iraq was not relatively peaceful because the insurgents suddenly decided to become BFFs with the Americans. It was because American troops went in and killed significant numbers of their fighters and leaders.

Today, after six years of Barack Obama’s leadership Americans may finally be waking up to the folly of the liberal notion that the world could be a peaceful place if America just stopped trying to impose its will on everyone else. The folly of that notion is twofold. The first is that while the United States – like most nations – does seek to influence events in various places around the world, the nation has rarely used its might to impose its will on other nations. Second, and more importantly, it misses the lesson to be had from Bin Laden’s quote. The world is not made up of leaders and people who seek to sit around holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Nations that believe in freedom, individual liberty and democratic government are greatly outnumbered by those where citizens enjoy none of those things. If the United States does not provide leadership in the world, make the case for freedom and individual liberty and make it clear that it will not only defend itself and its allies, but will stand up for others who share its values, who will?

Like a bully on the playground, if no one stands up to him he will continue to wreak havoc until recess becomes little more than a veritable “Lord of the Flies”. The United States cannot and should not try to be the policeman of the world. But if we do not make it perfectly clear that we will do whatever is necessary to defend our national interests and work to advance our values, then it won’t be a policeman the world has to worry about, but rather dictators who have little love for freedom of any kind and even less for individual life and liberty.

The product of a military family, growing up in Naples, Italy and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and being stationed in Germany for two years while in the Army, Vince spent half of his first quarter century seeing the US from outside of its own borders. That perspective, along with a French wife and two decades as a struggling entrepreneur have only fueled an appreciation for freedom and the fundamental greatness of the gifts our forefathers left us.

24 Responses to “The Strong Horse, Barack Obama and the Collapse of American Influence”

  1. 1



    Putin is the stronger horse: Obama is silliness personified. However, if we analyze the photo of Putin through the eyes of a horseman we would know that he has a death grip on the reins, usually an indication of fear; he is leaning way back past the vertical on a minor downhill grade, indicating a sense of imbalance; he has his stirrups on the horse’s shoulders, a peculiar indication. You must realize when a horse bucks, you must be sitting deep in the saddle when he lands and be ready to jump into the horse’s next “explosion” of movement. The horse must land to launch into his next jump, at that point you want to be sitting, for a fraction of a second, in the lowest part of that saddle. Putting you feet forward onto the horses shoulder will help you obtain this important starting point before each jump, lose the momentum and you will be launched into the void.

    Putin has his feet on the shoulders, as if the horse is in a bucking rage, but anyone can tell, the horse is a docile trail horse, that is just purring in his time until dinner time. In reality, to the horseman he looks silly, but to the novice he looks as powerful as Obama looks silly. We could say the optics are meant to portray Putin riding the dead-headed Obama and showing off with his horse gymnastics. Now that is funny.

  2. 3



    @joetote: You were on for a purpose, Putin was there for the optics. A horseman could have positioned him for a better shot, but it looks like Putin uses “Yes men” rather than professionals, at least for his BS optics, kinda like someone else who rides bicycles with a silly helmet.

    If you stay in that position for an hour, the next day your back would be so sore you couldn’t climb on your horse. LOL.

    Ride straight up or just a little bit back at speed or approaching a jump. (Galloping race horses is a unique position.)

    A leg on each side, a deep seat, and a faraway look will take you a long way on a horse. Look what it did for John Wayne.

  3. 4

    Nanny G

    What was so cool about the world while America was viewed as a strong horse was that it had people from all over trying to get in.
    Not like when Rome was strong horse.
    Not like when the Mongolians (under Ginghis Kahn) was the strong horse.
    Not like when Hitler was the strong horse.
    And now, are there people who can’t wait to enter Commie China or does China have to force people in?
    And now, are there people who can’t wait to join Putin’s Russia or does Putin have to send in fakes to pretend to be wanting into Russia?
    The ”Caliphate,” sans Caliph, only attracts sadists and Islamic romantics. No settled families are pouring into their areas of control. Quite the opposite.
    Apparently America was a strong horse who didn’t abuse those people under its penumbra.

    One thing else, Israel.
    Obama abused Israeli intelligence recently by giving it to Turkey and other Arab governments.
    This means those places know where Israeli satellite data comes from ….exactly.
    This means Israel has to move all of its satellites or risk them being sabotaged or destroyed.

    Obama’s bottom line on ISIS seems to be to throw Israel under the bus and align with both Assad in Syria and Iran in Iraq.
    Gee, what’s wrong with THAT picture?

  4. 5

    another vet

    Vince- This post is right on target. It would be nice to be isolationists, unfortunately reality doesn’t allow for that. We can either fight the dangers over there or fight them over here. Europe is showing even greater weakness than we are and look at where they are headed. At some point in time there will be another war on that continent, maybe not large armies confronting each other on a front or fronts, but it will happen in some form.

    I’d like to offer one additional observation to the interwar years. While appeasement was definitely a factor in allowing for the rise of Hitler etc., it wasn’t the only the one. The West also feared Communism more than Hitler and saw him as the lesser of two evils and as a check to its spread. Given that Marxist doctrine, still adored by the American left today, called for violent worldwide revolution and that millions perished in Russia as a result of Lenin and his Bolsheviks implementing it, it is easy to see why. Also, according to Marx, the initial revolution wasn’t supposed to have occurred in Russia but rather in England or Germany (I can’t recall which). So while “peace in our time” was a factor, so was the threat of Communism. When you think about it, the Cold War actually started after WWI. The West and the Fascists/NAZIs had an unlikely alliance to halt the advance of the Communist menace and then had a falling out because of the grand desires of the latter resulting in another unlikely alliance between the West and the Communists. After WWII, the Cold War resumed in full again although it never really stopped. My pick for the biggest winner of WWII- Stalin, thanks in a large part to FDR.

    Getting back to modern times, we appear to be making some of the same mistakes with the radical Islamist threat as we did with Communism. Unfortunately, this time the appeasers and naysayers, as exemplified by Obama and company, won out early whereas in post WWII the Communist appeasers did not. All of our post WWII Presidents stood firm as did the majority of the American people hence the reason for our Cold War victory. Contemporary American people seem to have lost the courage and staying power of those past Americans. Perhaps it is that weakness that prompted OBL to state that his side was going to win because the West lacked commitment to its cause and they do not.

  5. 6

    why zee

    good post but a few historical inaccuracies –

    From ignoring the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 to allowing Hitler to rearm in 1935 to…

    as far as i know westerners did not IGNORE the japanese invasion, it was widely reported, as was the slaughter at nanking

    nor was hitty “allowed” to rearm, they did that surreptitiously

  6. 7


    @Skook: Yet, in comparison, notice the perfect posture and form of Obama riding the little girl’s bike… in reality, Obama and his entire entourage is what would be found on the south end of a north-bound horse.

  7. 11


    @retire05, #10:

    And Obama looks pretty small while riding a blue girl’s bike.

    Actually, it isn’t. It’s a man’s trail bicycle. The low-cut design is to prevent injuries to vital equipment if you happen to bounce off the seat onto your legs. His daughter is riding the women’s version, which you will observe is markedly different:

    I don’t even begrudge him the silly little helmet. He’s setting a good example for his kid.

    Maybe I’m misjudging Putin’s elevator shoes. He used to be KGB. Maybe one of his shoes contains a hidden telephone.

  8. 13


    Mostly true. But there is one thing in common between libtard weakling Obama and commie thug Putin: love to entertain their zombie followers with contemptible farce.

  9. 14


    Wars are like bullies in school. Most of the time, nobody does anything about a bully because the one being bullied feels they can’t fight the bully, and the others don’t get involved, since it isn’t affecting them.

    Using Hitler as an example, other countries around Germany believed that Hitler wouldn’t attack them, and Hitler signed treaties with them. Just like the treaties we signed with the Native Americans, the treaties were used only to convince the other side that the aggressor wouldn’t bully them. The bully then could take as much time as they wanted to do whatever was necessary to build up enough of a military to do whatever they wanted to whoever they wanted to do it to.

    Too many times, OTHER COUNTRY’S wars were looked upon as money-makers by the USA. We even sold war goods to Japan and Germany while they were growing militarily. As long as we have a campaigning system where politicians have to use other people’s money, the ones who donate the most, get what they want, and war goods manufacturers have lots of money to donate to who will do what the donor wants. I’ve mentioned before that I wonder how many of our soldiers were killed or wounded by our own war goods.

    After hearing about some crooked people’s dealings, I would ask the person telling me, “How do people like that sleep at night?” One person said something like, “They sleep on fancy sheets, on a fancy bed, in a fancy house, and drive a fancy car, so they probably sleep pretty good.”

    After each major war or conflict, WE THE PEOPLE seem to forget that the bully ALWAYS GOES AFTER THE WEAK. When others see the USA as weak, they will come after us, and they are. The USA should be like a video I saw, where a teenage boy was picking on another teenage boy, who didn’t want to fight. The bully kept picking on him, until the other boy accepted the challenge. That was when the bully found out that the other boy was an expert at martial arts. I would have liked to have seen the bully clobbered, but the other boy did the right thing and just made sure that if he was picked on again by the bully, the bully would regret it. This is how the USA should be.

    I want the military funded first, with a very strict oversight committee, made up of non-politicians, who will watch for over spending. Without a strong military, there won’t be a free USA, and obama is tying to make this so.

  10. 16


    @Skook (#1)

    Putin’s many times on a horse have made comic relief for my equestrian daughters. There are some very good equestrians in Russia, but Putin is not one of them.

  11. 17


    @Randy, #12:

    Looks like you missed the point of the post as usual.

    I think some people are so obsessed with attacking Barack Obama that they’re missing the point of just about everything.

  12. 18


    The simple fact is that his approval rating has dropped like a rock shows a lot of folks have figured out his presidency is a failure. This despite the fact that the media has been kissing his butt for 6 years.
    If he received the same media treatment as GWB he’d have about a 5% apporval rating. Only the willingly blind would see it otherwise. You may find yourself in this 5%.

  13. 19


    Actually, Obama’s average approval rating has been stuck in the low 40 percent range for over a year now. That seems to be the point where the rock stopped dropping. What I find interesting is that Congress’ average approval rating seems to be stuck at a point that’s 26 full percentage points lower. I suppose this might relate to the fact that they’re in the running for the questionable honor of being the Least Productive U.S. Congress in Modern History.

  14. 20


    @Greg: @Greg:

    I think some people are so obsessed with attacking Barack Obama that they’re missing the point of just about everything.

    I guess it’s just Obama’s bad fortune that everything he has done has been an abject failure. Had that been different, perhaps he would be drawing a bit less criticism.

    @Greg:”I suppose this might relate to the fact that they’re in the running for the questionable honor of being the Least Productive U.S. Congress in Modern History.” Fully half of that Congress is Democrat and is led by the Obstructionist in Chief Reid. Not really sure why you brought it up.

  15. 21


    Much of what he has done has been far from an abject failure. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the propaganda campaign directed against Obama and his efforts, which has occupied virtually 100 percent of the GOP’s time and energy for going on 6 continuous years.

    What accomplishments of their own have benefited a majority of the nation’s population over the same period? What genuinely useful things have they done? They certainly haven’t done much to promote the nation’s economic recovery, to aid families most damaged by the past recession, to boost the nation’s morale, or to promote confidence in their nation’s leadership. They haven’t done anything to expand the availability of healthcare. In fact, they want to roll many positive changes back.

  16. 22



    , Obama’s average approval rating has been stuck in the low 40 percent range for over a year now

    Funny isn’t it, how Obama’s approval rating is just 4/10th of a percent higher than Bush’s was after the same length of time in office, but the Democrats are not harping on Obama’s low approval ratings like they did Bush’s, and the lapdog media isn’t reporting those low approval rating for Obama like they heralded them about Bush?

    What I find interesting is that Congress’ average approval rating seems to be stuck at a point that’s 26 full percentage points lower.

    Of course you don’t mention that the Democrats control one half of Congress, or that Harry Reid has tabled more legislation to come out of the House of Representatives, much of it passed on a bi-partisan vote, than any other Senate leader in modern history.

    I suppose this might relate to the fact that they’re in the running for the questionable honor of being the Least Productive U.S. Congress in Modern History.

    Well, perhaps that is an issue that you should take up with Harry Reid. With over 300 bills passed by the House of Representatives sitting on his desk gathering dust, you might want to encourage Reid to bring some of them to the floor of the Senate.

    What you also never mention, in your stat providing links, is that the Congressional generic vote has plummeted for Democrats in the last year, from D-46.85/R-41.3% to D-42.7%/R-46.2%. The last time this happened was fall of 2010 (10/17/2010 D-41.9%/R-47.0%) when the Democrats were solidly routed by the Republicans, not just in federal elections but in more state elections since 1938.

    Much of what he has done has been far from an abject failure.

    And what are these stellar accomplishments that you think Obama has achieved? Obamacare? That is the national disaster waiting to happen. Iraq, as Biden said it would be the greatest achievement of the current Presidency? Libya? Egypt? Middle income increasing and a decrease in those on welfare?

    So please, tell us, what are his great accomplishments that you are so convinced he has achieved?

    Poor Greggie, you’re absolutely delusional.

  17. 23

    Nanny G

    @retire05: ObamaCare?
    That’s a laugh.
    PreferredOne, the insurer that sold nearly 60 percent of all private health plans on Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange, on Tuesday said it would leave that marketplace. PreferredOne’s plans were the lowest-cost options on that exchange, known as MNSure.
    George Washington University (in Washington DC) will offer a less expensive health care plan for employees in order to avoid paying nearly $1 million in additional Obamacare taxes.
    The Obama administration announced Monday it will cut off tax subsidies to about 360,000 people if they do not offer proof of their income in the next two weeks.
    Anyone want to compare numbers insured before VS after ObamaCare?
    Can’t do it.
    Apples and oranges.
    The Census earlier this year announced a change to how it asks about health insurance coverage in the Current Population Survey. The agency says the new questions will more accurately reflect insurance status, but it could make it difficult to compare uninsured rates between 2012 and 2013.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *