Domestically, no one expects much work to get done in Barack Obama’s so-called “lame duck” season – the 74 days between the election and next year’s inauguration. As a country, we’ve perfected the art of the slow presidential transition, a period of calm and stability that ensures a gradual and peaceful evolution of power. In 2008, that transition was more volatile than usual, thanks to a Wall Street collapse that put both the outgoing and incoming administrations under intense pressure. Economically, we survived, if barely.
But as messy as that situation was, imagine if the crisis had been one of war.
That’s the threat that looms over the next two and a half months – the threat that has been allowed to rise by a president who did not take his role as commander-in-chief very seriously. Under Obama’s watch, we’ve seen countries like Iran, Russia, and North Korea challenge Western norms in ways that can only be compared to the days of JFK.
The United States and her allies have presided over one of the longest stretches of world peace in decades. True, there has been plenty of military violence within that “peace,” but there’s a huge difference between our Middle Eastern conflicts – or even our Vietnam excursion – and global war. The threat of desert dictators and Islamic terrorism shouldn’t be understated, but no one’s worried about ISIS setting up a caliphate in New England.
If you suggested eight years ago that we might be on the precipice of nuclear war, you would have been laughed out of the building. Today, that possibility – while unlikely – is not quite so funny. Vladimir Putin longs to resurrect the mighty Soviet Union, Iran has their sights set on a Middle Eastern kingdom, and North Korea is led by a shameless lunatic capable of virtually anything. And all three are supported, to one degree or another, by China – a country with the wealth and military power to seriously challenge the current layout of the world.
For the duration of Obama’s tenure, these countries have taken advantage of his weak leadership. Now, with his administration at its weakest, any one of them could choose to strike. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the U.S. – and, by extension, the Western world – will be historically vulnerable to attack in the next two and a half months. If it occurs, the man who let this situation arise will be in charge of the response.
Lord help us.