Presidential Temperament: Is Calmness the Answer in a Dangerous World?

We’re repeatedly told that a president must have a calm, reasonable temperament. If he doesn’t, it’s said that he will start a war and the world will be over.

It’s hard to argue with the need for a reasonable temperament. But isn’t it possible, in reason, to underreact as much as overreact?

Consider the most recent news about Russia’s nuclear arms.

Russia has doubled the number of nuclear warheads in its arsenal by adding multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, a Pentagon official tells The Washington Free Beacon.

The buildup violates the New START arms treaty between the United States and Russia, which calls for a reduction in warheads by February 2018, the unnamed official said, according to Free Beacon.

This is typical of the sort of news we receive about other nations. Russia is a potential , though not an inevitable, enemy. Shouldn’t we be concerned?

Russia is a fascist dictatorship. When a dictatorship arms itself, it aims to use that strength for the goals that dictatorships always use strength: to impose force on others.

Russia isn’t building its nuclear capacity to impose force on its own people. It already has the means — secret police, and the like — for doing that. They can only be building their nuclear force, in violation of so-called arms controls treaties, for one purpose: To threaten other nations, especially the United States.

The U.S. State Department has responded by saying it’s not concerned. It fully expects that Russia will eventually follow the rules of the arms agreements, even if it’s not doing so now. It’s a calm, mellow response. We’re told over and over, by the leaders of both parties, that this is a good thing.

This is what you call underreacting. It’s not just with Russia. It’s the same with China and its military buildup. It’s the same with Iran, who’s already violating the treaty our president forced us to sign with them. To say nothing of ISIS getting away with savagery and murder on a daily basis. The only response our officials have to ISIS is, “That’s not really Islam.” This comes from the top: from the President. Tell that to the people who get their heads chopped off or blown to bits. It’s continuing to happen, and in the name of a calm, never-angry temperament, we’re doing nothing about it.

Temperament in a president is important. But it’s just as dangerous to underreact as it is to overreact. In some ways it’s worse. By failing to respond appropriately to attacks or threats, we fail to stand up for freedom. Remember that places like China, Russia, Iran and most of the rest of the world are authoritarian or totalitarian dictatorships. The only countries left defending freedom—or freedom’s remnants, at least—are places like the United States and Western Europe. These are the nations getting attacked, and these are the nations underreacting to it all. Under Obama, the free nations have been leading the charge on underreacting.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, as Thomas Jefferson once said. Vigilance does not mean paranoia. It does not mean rushing or jumping to conclusions without knowing all the facts. But vigilance does mean being proactive, and on the aggressive, for the sake of freedom. It’s easy to collapse or slide into dictatorship; that has been the norm for most human societies throughout history. Establishing and maintaining a society based on individual rights is much, much harder. Freedom is fragile, more than complacent Americans voting for people like Obama care to realize. America’s only real obligation is to defend itself. But by defending itself, at least so long as America remained a free country, it defended the cause of freedom everywhere. We no longer do that.

We need a president completely different from the one we have now, temperament-wise as well as ideologically. Obama’s temperament is ill-suited to a dangerous world. He falsely believes that by being calm we rise above our enemies, even if we refuse to fight back and we allow dictatorships like Russia, China and even Iran to overtake our military capability. He thinks by remaining peaceful, even if others will not, we can avoid war. This is foolish, dangerous idiocy. If you think Obama’s temperament makes us safer, then you obviously are not watching how the world is becoming a more dangerous place. We will be paying the price for Obama’s negligence for years to come, regardless of what comes next.

The very best thing we could do for our country would be to restore a free economy. I mean totally hands-off capitalism. Private property, profits, and government limited to keeping people free from force. We’d be the only truly free market economy on earth at that point, and we’d have the capacity to defend ourselves because the economy would no longer be debt-ridden and stagnant; it would be dynamic and vibrant. We’d be rich, and rich nations have the capacity and the motivation to defend themselves.

Temperament matters all right. But not in the way you think.

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