We’ve spent a lot of time talking about Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and sex. Meanwhile, over atThe Week, Damon Linker asks plaintively, “Why won’t anyone admit that America is fighting five wars?” The short answer is that although the next president will inherit an ugly and dangerous world situation, it doesn’t serve the interests of any of the players to talk about it before the election.
Trump, of course, has focused on immigration, political correctness and other domestic issues. His foreign policy, to the extent that he has one, seems to boil down to leaving other countries alone unless they cause trouble, and bombing them into oblivion if they do. That doesn’t leave him a lot to talk about.
Clinton, meanwhile, doesn’t want to talk about America’s military/diplomatic messes because she had a big hand in making them. She likes to talk about her experience as secretary of State, but not so much about her accomplishments, because, to be honest, those aren’t anything to write home about.
In Syria, where we talked about a “red line,” things have gotten much worse. Hundreds of thousands have died, an exodus of refugees has destabilized politics in European nations, and Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be well on the way to dismantling America’s post-Cold War dominance in the region.
Iran is openly mocking the United States as it harasses our vessels and even seizes our boats and sailors. Saudi Arabia is embroiled in a (U.S.-Supported) war in Yemen that isn’t going well. The Islamic State terrorist group remains a threat in Iraq, Syria and around the world.
Clinton and Obama derelict in terror fight: Rudy Giuliani.
In once-peaceful Libya, where the Bush administration, fresh off beating Saddam Hussein in Iraq, had brokered a deal in which dictator Moammar Gadhafi gave up his weapons of mass destruction in exchange for guarantees of safety, things have also gone to hell. Together with the Europeans, then-Secretary of State Clinton led an effort to remove Gadhafi (“We came, we saw, he died,” she joked afterward). But instead of establishing a peaceful, pro-Western state in Libya, we got more problems with terrorist networks and yet another wave of refugees flooding Europe.
Meanwhile, in Asia, things are also awful. The Philippines have long been the cornerstone of American dominance in the Pacific. Now Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, having pronounced the United States a “loser,” has decided to side with China, a move that a recent article in Foreign Policy calls “a disaster for the United States.”.
And Walter Russell Mead — who voted for Obama — is even harsher in a recent piece in The American Interest:.
Obama’s tortuous efforts to balance a commitment to human rights and the niceties of American liberal ideology with a strong policy in defense of basic American security interests have made the world less safe for both human rights and for American security. … Obama’s foreign policy is making the world safer for people who despise and trample on the very values that Obama hoped his presidency would advance. His lack of strategic insight and his inability to grasp the dynamics of world power politics have opened the door to a new generation of authoritarian figures in alliance with hostile great powers. Unintentionally, and with the best of intentions, he has opened the doors to the demons of hell, and the darkest forces in the human spirit have much greater scope and much more power today than they did when he took the oath of office back in 2009.
Clinton’s cash for access diplomacy: Glenn Reynolds.
POLICING THE USA: A look at race, justice, media.
A different Democratic presidential nominee — former senator James Webb, say, or even Sen. Bernie Sanders — could separate himself from Obama’s policies and their results. But Clinton can’t. Obama’s policies, and their ugly results, are Clinton’s policies as well. Better to talk about sex, even Bill’s affairs, than that.
In a healthier society, a free press would be talking about these issues whether the candidates wanted to or not. But in today’s society, the press doesn’t want to make things tougher for Clinton. As Linker writes: “In a political season in which the media has come in for unprecedented hostility and abuse, this is its greatest, and least appreciated, shortcoming: When everybody else decided it was a good idea to forestall a public debate about enormously important and complicated policy questions, the press decided to go along.”.
Whoever the next president is, he or she will likely confront a much uglier and more dangerous world than existed in 2008. And the 2016 campaign will have done nothing to prepare the nation for the decisions that will have to be made. Thanks, candidates. Thanks, press.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.
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