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The World is at War and the Peace Has Been Lost
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during the National Action Network's 25th Anniversary Convention on April 13, 2016 in New York City. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The World is at War and the Peace Has Been Lost

Walter Russell Mead

From the quiet country churches of Normandy through the civil wars of Africa, the killing fields of Syria, Putin’s war against the modern European order and China’s lawless surge into the waters beyond its shores, the dark storm clouds gather. Pope Francis has noticed:

Pope Francis compared recent terrorist attacks to last century’s world wars, saying that “the world is at war because it has lost the peace.”

In remarks during a Wednesday flight to Poland, where he began a five-day visit, the pope also decried the slaying of a French priest by attackers who claimed allegiance to Islamic State and tied it to the killing of Christians by terrorists in other regions of the world.

Francis is not always the world’s clearest thinker on matters of politics and policy, but he hit the nail right on the head here: we have lost the peace. It is an interesting counterpoint to the Democratic establishment’s celebration of itself and its wisdom last night. And the Pope’s point suggests what is likely to be the starting point of historians’ analysis of Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy: not how he succeeded, but how and why was the peace lost on his watch?

Hillary Clinton is pursuing a job that will be much harder than the job her husband faced, and she will need to do something that many of her most ardent supporters hope she won’t have to do: when the world is at war because it has lost the peace, you have to think outside the box and go well beyond the world of stale liberal truisms of the Boomer Progressive Synthesis.

That she is more suited by intellect and experience to the Presidency than her principal opponent is not in question. Neither is there any doubt that the Democratic Party today is in better shape to provide the country with coherent leadership than the squabbling remnants and angry factions fighting over what used to be the party of Abraham Lincoln.

But what is very much in question is whether she and her party have what it takes to lead the nation through what is likely to be a very stormy and difficult time, a time that is likely to test many of the comfortable ideas and compromises that hold the party together well past their design strength.

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