America, the unserious superpower

To get some idea of the scale of this problem, imagine if this whole fiasco had happened the other way around. Think about the tense situation we’d be in today if China said American hackers, at the behest of the U.S. government, managed to steal the personal information of every employee of the Chinese government. Somehow, I doubt that Beijing’s response would be to call Life-Lock for a bulk rate.

The situation elsewhere is no better. The Iranians, after repeated delays, have graciously consented to permit us to beg them for a nuclear deal that they have already made clear will not bind them on the issues most important to us. The mullahs, obviously fearful and full of deep respect for the Obama administration, seized a ship and issued fiery denunciations of the West while we’ve been pleading with them to allow us to legitimize their aggressive ambitions.

And then there are the Russians. Never has a Kremlin regarded an American administration with such a combination of contempt and disrespect. To reverse Michael Corleone’s famous line, it’s not business, it’s personal. Yes, the Soviet regimes before this harbored deep hatred for Ronald Reagan, treated Gerald Ford with utter patronization, and regarded Jimmy Carter as a hectoring bumpkin. But they feared and respected Reagan, and they actually liked Ford even while running roughshod over American objections to Soviet policies. To some extent, they even came to fear Carter (or at least the Carter that emerged as a born-again Cold Warrior after 1979).

Today, the Russians act as if America does not exist.