November 21, 2016

Obama’s fitting end to a disappointing tenure

Obama’s fitting end to a disappointing tenure

It seems fitting that Obama’s lacklustre Presidency should end in the company of European leaders who, like him, have also lost touch with their electorate, says John Redwood. 

When he was first elected President Obama had huge political goodwill around the world. Many wished him well and were excited by his personal story. I liked the promise of a new approach to international relations. I particularly liked his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay, a blot on the Western conscience, and his wish to disengage from Middle Eastern wars. He carried with him the hope of diplomacy, a new language about reconciling differences and trying to overcome old enmities with new approaches.

Like many I feel badly let down. He never closed Guantanamo. The war in Iraq dragged on, as did the war in Afghanistan. The President often dithered, then added to the military forces involved. He went along with intervention in Libya which removed a bad government, to replace it with a rolling civil war. He bombed some of the time in Syria, as the West sought to create a third force of moderate democrats who either did not exist or who were overwhelmed by both sides in the violent conflict. It is difficult to say the Middle East is a better place today than eight years ago, though Americans have shed much blood and spent much treasure on trying to remodel several countries.

For me the worst moment of his Presidency was when he dared to come to the UK to back the Remain campaign. It was a catastrophic error for the Leader of the Free world to involve himself in a referendum in a friendly country on the wrong side, arguing with those who wanted to argue the British/EU colonial government case rather than the case of the Independence seeking Americans/UK citizens. He communicated a sense of a man who did not particularly like our country. His eviction of Churchill’s bust from the Oval Office was in itself unimportant. I understand his wish to surround himself with his own choice of greats and mentors. It did however, speak eloquently to us that he did not consider the shared crusade to rid Europe of fascism in the 1940s as an important story worthy of recollection close to his desk.

He started his Presidency with the banking crisis in full flow. The US responded more vigorously and more successfully to it than Japan had done to its crisis in the late 1980s, or the Euro area did in 2008-16. During his term the US economy has experienced a sustained but moderate recovery from the collapse it felt in the early days of his tenure. He spent much of his political capital in pushing through Obamacare, which badly divided his nation and led to the collapse of the Democrat vote in subsequent elections. In his later months in office he has seemed strangely detached from the job, surviving in it by touring the world and espousing all the establishment causes he can find.

It is perhaps a fitting end to his tenure that he spends time in Europe with a series of continental politicians that have themselves lost touch with their voters, to make common cause to be tougher against Russia. This is one farewell tour where I will not be buying the soundtrack. Whatever happened to the hopes of a more peaceful world?

4.70 avg. rating (93% score) - 30 votes
mm
John Redwood MP
John Redwood is the Member of Parliament for Wokingham in Berkshire. He was formerly Secretary of State for Wales in Prime Minister John Major's Cabinet. He is currently Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness.
  • Nockian

    No article ? Maybe it’s spread to comment central ?

    Central banks don’t work any better than any other kind of soviet style producer. They produce too many tractors when we need more ploughs. This is because banking isn’t independent, it isn’t laissez faire capitalism that is being practised, but the soviet style economics of central planning. It is not, per se, the fault of the central banks, anymore than it was the fault of the Russian tractor factories for under/ over producing as a result of state diktat. Unfortunately we have a mixed economy, which is 50% socialistic and has been expanding for several decades-most of us now give over 60% of our earnings to government directly (it’s probably a bit more depending on inflation and inflexible tax bands).

    The answer is to get the state out of commerce, then the central banks will either survive or collapse within a laissez faire banking system, but first we must begin to accept the truth, that we cannot continue to sustain such a gargantuan welfare system and its associated government. If we want to produce more, we need to be taxed less, we must save not spend.

  • ratcatcher11

    If everyone saved and did not spend there would be a massive worldwide slump, so it is obvious there has to be spending. Making things for sale is thus important, services alone cannot sustain an economy. One of the biggest problems is Keynsian economics that are basically tax, print and spend socialist policies. We do not need the government to build a railway we need a private company to build the railway which will compete with air travel fairly, not by taxing air travel to make it it less profitable. Thus the governments air taxes should be scrapped and private companies encouraged to re open rail lines closed by Beeching. This is the development we need not government spending 90 billion of money on an HS2 line built from somewhere to nowhere and never stops to pick up passengers.

  • Debs

    Expansion of economies cannot go on forever no matter what so called monetary policy is. You dont need to be an economics expert to realise it.

    All I know is governments and banks seem to be constantly coming up with schemes to leave we the lowly tax payer with less of our money.Forget about the trumpeted tax cuts ,everything else is going up accordingly except real wages of course. Dont even mention the Green scam or the cheap labour scam.

    Bail ins and cashless society are two more scams I have seen trailed in various media outlets over the past few years. Gradually our hard earned money is being prised away from us to fritter away on who knows what.

    They wonder why Trump got elected.

  • Nockian

    The market will raise rates eventually, regardless of wether the central bank wishes it or not. The problem is that we have all become mesmerised at central bank control, when, in reality, at this stage they have little at all. They cannot raise rates to normal, because, firstly, we don’t know what normal looks like (it could already be normal) and secondly any increases will create an avalanche effect-let’s face it, no one but the wealthiest wants to bring down countries governments through a collapse in public spending leading to actual anarchy on our streets.

    The bogey man of fractional reserve is a myth that has permeated libertarian consciousness, in a free market banks would have to take risk or they would, by any definition, not be free market. Banks are not currently lending to private individuals because capital requirements are already so high-they have become zombified businesses that look like they function, but are like the shops we set up as kids with funny money and plastic fruit. The market is broken as far as banks are concerned, they are no longer part of it.

    Fixing the problem cannot begin by looking at the central bank, nor the main banks. It’s far too late to consider than anything can be done at this stage, we are so far beyond normal that we aren’t looking at a functioning banking system at all. It would be like bleeding the radiators to solve a broken boiler.

    The problem we have is at its heart a simple one. It’s the problem that labour refused to accept when the banks blew up. We have an unsustainable welfare system and an over sized government. We have to tackle our public spending first of all and I see little sign that any current, nor perspective government is prepared to give the public the awful news about the reality.

    Even the great Tory saviours have flunked out of the monetary boiler rooms. The situation is dire, there is no fuel left, we have been ripping up the ships timbers to maintain the illusion of tranquil sailing progress, but eventually the ship will sink for lack of substance. There is no monetary policy that can save us, all we are going to get is an ever growing war on cash, savers and anyone who tries to make a profit. We are going to end up in the late stages of a soviet style melt down whilst spinning mirrors to pretend it isn’t happening.

    We all know what’s going on, we can offer solutions, make sympathetic noises and talk up any temporary progress, but the reality of the situation is now apparent. We have to do what every debtor must eventually conclude; that our spending has unfortunaly exceeded our earning capacity and all those red letters mean some drastic rethinking is required. We are going to reach the end of the road, not by a sudden explosion, but the drift into monetary authoritarianism which will result in ever greater protectionism and falling living standards. We are in great danger of losing the West to the East and ending up as country cousins of a world of declining freedoms and the rise mysticism.

x
Like us on Facebook: