The prevailing sentiment in much of American politics has been macho confrontation. Indeed, Sen. McCain seems to be staking his presidential hopes on belligerence: All-War, All-the-Time. This curious mindset arises not from a confidence of strength, which the US surely possesses in abundance, but from the fear that we no longer 'have it".
As they say, adversaries can smell fear. And I think this is what Steve is describing in his latest look at the beef trade with South Korea.
There is nothing in the agreement forcing Korean consumers to eat our beef. But the agreement says the government will let it in. So be it or else, as far as I’m concerned. I'm not a fan of welchers. Drop it and let them deal with Obama and his protectionist base after next year’s election. [More]I think Seoul sees a weakened and slightly desperate trading partner who is becoming increasingly irrelevant - or at least ignored - due to our weak currency and slow growth. America still commands the heights, but too many of our leaders have found a vein of fear to be mined for political gold, and have thus convinced too many of us we are under attack by giants of awesome power. The world looks at us and realizes we can be easily exploited as we search for new threats daily.
The politics of fear work for a while, but soon fall prey to the problem of boredom. The latest presidential approval ratings look like reviews from "Gigli". This is an disengaged audience. Meanwhile our trading partners have learned they can say, "Oh yeah, you and what army?", knowing full well where our army is.