by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Last week was a week of “historic achievements.” More likely, it was a week of historic pretense, obfuscation, and postponement—a week of historic failures disguised as successes.
The failure in Europe is easily understood, because it has been repeated so often. Greece has been holding a gun to its own head, threatening to commit suicide unless the solvent states of Europe rescue it, over and over again. Since there are very few states in Europe that will be solvent 50 years from now, the threat has high resonance.
The heads of governments, and the lenders to them, shouldn’t need much imagination to see themselves in the same position in 10 or 20 years. Most of them have debts that are more serious than Greece’s debt was 20 years ago. Nearly all of them have social-welfare systems that are as far beyond their control as Greece’s pension system was 10 years ago.
The few nations that might stay solvent have locked themselves into a cell with the others. In Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying, they must all hang together or they assuredly will hang separately. They face the inverse of the classic prisoners’ dilemma. …
… In the week’s second historic achievement, tireless negotiators from the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany crafted an agreement with Iran to prevent that nation from building nuclear weapons.
President Barack Obama didn’t spend much time justifying the details of the agreement. Instead, he pulled out a list of other people’s objections to it and explained that each objector is being unrealistic.
“None of them have presented to me or the American people a better alternative,” Obama said in his long, combative press conference on Wednesday. The comment was one of many that recalled Obama’s oft-demonstrated belief that he is always the smartest man in any room. He was saying that all the goals of U.S. strategy about Iran dating back to 1979 had been futile.
The only option that he didn’t dismiss as impractical was a military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, although he has rejected the idea over and over again.