The International Law of Unintended Consequences

February 23, 2015


The joke was that Kim Il-sung died laughing. The year was 1994, and the grandfather of current North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was rattling his pocket knife. Former president Jimmy Carter was invited by the communist dictator to help with negotiations that were not going Kim’s way. Carter accepted, undercutting the Clinton administration; however, later President Clinton- himself a man of weak character- decided that the pressure was too great and he accepted the Carter-brokered deal. The “deal” was just that for Kim:  financial aid, oil, and material for nuclear power production.

Carter left North Korea after announcing their joint proposal, which was a near-complete American cave-in, but Kim died not long later, hence the joke of how he died. Later that year, the agreement was officially negotiated and concluded.

Less than a decade later, when Kim’s son, Kim Jong-il, rattled his sword- the power grew because of the help from Carter and Clinton- former Carter administration member and Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright blamed the growing North Korean threat on President G.W. Bush. Bush did not handle North Korea as well as he should have, but the die had been cast seven years prior.

Today, North Korea has a nuclear program that continues to grow.

When President Carter tried to play his own version of musical leaders in the Middle East, out went the despotic yet manageable Shah of Iran and in came Ayatollah Khomeini. Carter did not foresee the Ayatollah’s ascension, but that is exactly the point. What happens today can come back to harm our country, or the West in general, 30 or 40 years from now. There is an important law that many American politicians fail to understand:  the Law of Unintended Consequences.

President Obama has not learned the lessons from Carter’s, let alone Clinton’s, failures. We recall that President Clinton’s continual displays of weakness encouraged Osama bin Laden to label the USA a “paper tiger.” When the plan came together that we call “9/11,” bin Laden did not believe that we would react strongly, methodically, and consistently; bin Laden, al Zawahiri, and others did not immediately run into their caves. In fact, they had themselves videotaped, laughing and bragging about the attacks. Paper tigers don’t leave more than paper cuts, but the assumption was proved false.

Just as ISIS has today, al Qa’eda declared war on the USA and our government ignored it.

Some will lump into these failures our war in Iraq. While that is the subject for expansive studies, suffice it to say that, no matter your thoughts on the war, the military spectacularly accomplished its goals- accomplishments which were not undone until the military was removed for political, not military, reasons. The unintended consequence of the Iraq war and removing Saddam Hussein was not ISIS, rather it was freeing up the Shi’a and Shi’ites to kill each other.

All of this brings us to our current failed president. When we helped France and the UK remove a subdued Moammar Qaddafi, unintended consequences led to that fateful September 2011 night in Benghazi. Then came the recent beheading of 21 Christians on the Libyan beach. There will be more chaos in Libya, all because a few feckless world leaders decided that a dictator had to go- a dictator, yes, but a dictator who was finally brought to heel by Obama’s predecessor.

It sounded good to depose a dictator, yet weak actions beget more instability. Russia is watching; communist China is watching; so are countless wannabe tyrants worldwide.

If not for the strength of the Egyptian military, that country would now be in the clutches of the terrorist organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood. The downfall of Hosni Mubarak was encouraged by President Obama, which means that he was part owner of the ensuing chaos. It is far too soon to know whether Egypt will recover from such short-sighted meddling.

Now, a politically motivated pullout from Iraq allowing ISIS to devour the land like swarms of locusts.

Evil is encouraged when Good exhibits weakness; Evil is responding to the now-weak United States. The world hears when the State Department SpokesChild babbles that the problem with ISIS is poverty and jobs. The world sees our timidity, hears our weakness. And Evil is encouraged.

The frightening thought in all of this is that Jimmy Carter, the accidental midwife of modern jihad, did not cause as much damage as Barack Obama in such a brief amount of time. Carter waited until he was no longer president to anger Israel, but as president he did not so quickly weaken their world position as our current president has done. Carter provided the launching pad and missile for jihad; Obama is handing over the explosives and guidance system for the missile.

The best we can hope for at the moment is that President Obama will send Jimmy Carter to the Mideast and after he leaves, the ISIS leadership will die laughing. If that does not happen, at least when Jimmy Carter dies- and we hope that he lives many more happy years- he can die with the comfort of knowing that he is no longer the worst president of the last 125 years.

We will bemoan today for decades to come.

Copyright ©2015

Brian W. Peterson has been a columnist for a mid-size California newspaper, is a veteran of political campaigns, and was a member of the publicly elected Republican Central Committee of Los Angeles County. His psychological thriller Dead Dreams and sci-fi adventure Children of the Sun are currently available through Amazon.com. You can follow Brian on Twitter @cybrpete.