American Elephants


How Do We Do a “No Confidence” Vote?

Saturday’s Wall Street Journal reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped down on Thursday, and announced that he would not seek a third term. The administration considers this a diplomatic coup for the administration, which has worked behind the scenes in Baghdad for months to find a successor who could begin uniting Iraq’s ethnic and religious factions.

Ah, yes. “No victor, no vanquished” We mentioned that strategy. Now we will have a “more inclusive government.” A “negotiated settlement.” And who will bring the new Caliph to the table, and how many will get beheaded in the process?

The U.S. now faces the equally, if not more, difficult challenge of confronting the growing threat from Islamic State militants and promoting a functioning government in Baghdad. The increase in U.S. assistance isn’t expected to result in a major expansion of military operations in Iraq, though there could be selected increases.

Iraq’s parliament on Monday nominated Haider al-Abadi, another Shiite politician from Mr. Maliki’s al Dawa party, to be the next prime minister. He has 30 days to form a government.

U.S. officials said they are hopeful Mr. Abadi can do more to heal ties between Baghdad and Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish communities, which were badly strained during Mr. Maliki’s eight-year rule.

The military, and we have no idea how many of our people are there, are trying to make plans, but they have no authority nor intent to do much more than Obama’s very limited order. The Kurds are getting mortars and small arms. Drones destroyed 2 Islamic State armed vehicles. Experts on Iraq say any increased engagement by the U.S. will require a major makeover of the Iraqi military. Yes, images of ISIS herding long lines of captured soldiers into a ditch where they were then executed probably does have an effect on morale.

Inside the liberal bubble, everyone is really ready to go to the negotiating table.



Can Obama Escape the Bubble? Probably Not!

I have, in odd moments, been pondering Obama’s statement of his foreign policy— “no victor–no vanquished.” Where did he get the idea that was a workable or satisfactory policy? He clearly was proud of the alliteration. Conservatives were confused  by the statement.

But then I recalled the leftist movement to stop the practice of having winners in games, as part of the”self-esteem movement.” There should be no winners and losers they said— everybody gets a trophy, everybody gets a medal. Prizes were for participation. Wrecked all kinds of contests and games, and most of the fun. Not much satisfaction in competition when even the worst performers get the same medal.

That was, of course, mostly in elementary school, and given time, the self-esteem movement fell into disrepute when people realized that our kids had the greatest self-esteem in the world, but we were being beaten all hollow in things like math and science, reading and history. But it didn’t go away for everyone. The Left accepted it as a given, and decided that competition was a bad thing.

On the Right, Ted Forstman once remarked in the Wall Street Journal that “There has never been an industry, a business, or a product that competition has not improved.” For most Republicans, a completely unremarkable statement. Of course. Most of our economic ideas are based on just that idea. But Mr. Obama clearly does not get it. “No Victor, No Vanquished.” Everybody gets a prize. No winner, no loser. Nobody has to feel bad. Well, here is Ralph Peters:

Wars are to be won. They are not playing fields for theorists. Enemies are to be destroyed, not merely admonished. And the best chance to destroy a military enemy is to pursue him relentlessly and ferociously when his organization begins to come apart. From Varus’s Roman legions in the marshes of Germany through Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow to the destruction of, first entire Soviet armies, then entire German ones on World War II’s Eastern Front, down to the Highway of Death leading north from Kuwait City, mighty armies—or those perceived as such—have been destroyed utterly when their fronts collapsed and they struggled to save themselves by fleeing. This is a killing hour and we must rise to it.

And Victor Davis Hanson:

It is an iron law of war that overwhelming military superiority, coupled with promises to the defeated of resurrection, defeats terrorists—in the past, now, always—whether they be zealots, dervishes, or Ghost dancers. We do not really care whether bin Laden and his thugs are real Islamic fundamentalists, old-time Mahdists, or Christian nuts in drag. Nor does it ultimately matter much whether they plan to poison water, hijack airplanes, spread germs, or throw spitballs at us—only whether we have the military power and will to kill them first, destroy their enclaves, strip away their money and refuges, and demonstrate to their followers that death and misery are the final and only wages of a terrorist’s life.

The Left lives in an impermeable bubble. Leftist thought is contained within the bubble. They can shoot moral arrows at everyone else to demonstrate their moral superiority. Within the bubble they can reinvent history to make it more agreeable to present circumstances, whatever they may be. Unpleasant matters do not penetrate, or at least can be repelled.

The current situation in Iraq has required significant adjustment. Iraq was the “dumb war.” Obama believed the public was “war weary” because the media told him so, so he was impatient to get out and had little interest in a “status of forces” agreement, nor in how such agreements came about. It was a trophy in his trophy display. (Consistency is not required)

So when ISIS swept out into Iraq, nobody in the White House paid any attention, because Iraq was a done deal. When executions and beheadings penetrated the news, it was presumed that getting rid of the troublesome Maliki and forcing a more “inclusive” government would make everybody feel good and a “negotiated settlement” would prevail. But then Islamic State terrorists slaughtered 900 Yazidis in Erbil in an act of genocide. Obama had to act, and he danced around it trying to make sure that everyone understood that our military intervention was not really a military intervention and there were no boots on the ground, and we weren’t going to do boots on the ground.

Bubbles are artificial constructions that don’t stand up in the real world.



Jonah Goldberg Explains “Social Justice”
August 15, 2014, 6:34 am
Filed under: Politics



School for Scandal: Social Justice Magnet Schools

As we draw nearer to the beginning of another school year, Michelle Malkin has drawn our attention to  the disturbing fact that for an increasing number of school districts “back to school” doesn’t mean a return to learning. For many of our “educators” academics are subsidiary to political indoctrination for our children.

In Massachusetts, the John J. Duggan Middle School will open on August 25, with a new name and a new mission. It is now a “social justice magnet school.” A hiring advertisement for teachers explained earlier this  year, the emphasis will be on “helping students develop the necessary skills to analyze and synthesize information and to generate empathy by looking at multiple sides of important issues facing the world, be that hunger, water quality, racial barriers, child labor or imbalance of power.

The new principal says the school’s primary job i teaching “fairness.” They are serious about creating 21st century global citizens.

At the Crescent Heights Social Justice Magnet School in Los Angeles, children will work on “action projects: tied to the “United Nations Millennium Development Goals” Yes the will learn language arts. But basic reading and writing are only a focus of the magnet school, the founders explain, because “we want our students to recognize injustice in their world or the world at large and be able to fully express their outrage, their plan of attack, their progress in this endeavor.”

In Chicago, Ground Zero for social justice brainwashing, the Social Justice High School (SOJO) follows a similar mission. Activist teachers openly foster identity politics and systematically undermine individualism. Their specialties: “struggle and sacrifice.” SOJO’s mission statement sounds like a pot-addled Oberlin College freshperson’s Sociology 101 term paper.

At the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School, also in Massachusetts, students won’t learn math. They’ll be taught “social justice math.” (Freire was a Brazilian leftist who wrote a social justice teacher’s Bible called “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.”)

His acolytes explain the push for radicalization of math: “Math is an instrument for detailing social justice issues and developing critical consciousness.” In the hands of progressive teachers, math “becomes an analytic tool to bring awareness to important world issues.”

Do read the whole thing. I had no idea. Transforming our schools into “leftist agitation labs” isn’t quite what we had in mind when we advocated reform for our schools. My schools were not up to the demanding curriculum of my parents’ schools, and its been all downhill since then, and keeps getting worse. Kids no longer learn cursive writing, for it is assumed they will always use a keyboard.  Thank you letters? Just tweet to Granny. And with a calculator always right at hand, who needs basic math? History? Howard Zinn’s little hate America handbook.

Magnet schools, eh. One would hope they draw no interest, and it’s hard to imagine that any parents would do so much to damage their kids. I suspect I’m wrong.



A World in Chaos, and Secretary Kerry’s Biggest Challenge is Climate Change?

American concern over President Obama’s national security advisers grows. He seems increasingly unable to understand the risks from the Islamic State, and his advisers seem increasingly inept.

Yesterday, as threats to the United States multiply, Secretary of State John Kerry remains fixated on — global warming. On Wednesday at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Secretary Kerry repeated his claim that climate change is “the biggest challenge…we face right now.”

ISIS has established a terrorist state across northern Iraq and Syria, Israel is under siege by terrorists, Ebola is spreading in Africa and threatens to arrive on our shores, our southern order is wide open to terrorists, criminals and diseases by presidential order, China is engaging in a massive military buildup and working on shooting down our satellites. Russia is attacking Ukraine and threatening its other smaller neighbors, and our biggest worry is climate change? Unbelievable.

It’s hard to know what Mr. Obama’s relations with his advisers is, are they so in awe of him that they do not question any of his ideas? Some sources say that Obama only meets with his very closest associates. It’s been reported that he doesn’t attend foreign policy briefings, and that he doesn’t like meetings. The big problem is that there seems to be genocide going on in Iraq, and Obama is fully engaged on the golf course.

ISIS, or the Islamic State, is increasingly intent on attacking the United States. They have proclaimed they want their flag flying over the White House. We should probably take them seriously. A lot of military people are alarmed, as are those who are deeply familiar with the Middle East.

Mr. Kerry recently warned African leaders to stop creating new farms and focus on what they already have. “Certain agricultural processes can actually release carbon pollution,” he explained to the Africans who were hoping for help in feeding their starving people.

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“They’re Coming” and “Another 9/11 is Imminent”

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An editorial from the Washington Post last Friday was headlined “Obama’s authorization of Iraq airstrikes isn’t connected to a coherent strategy.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA was right to order military action to prevent a potential genocide in northern Iraq and to stop forces of the al-Qaeda-derived Islamic State from advancing on Baghdad or the Kurdish capital of Irbil. However, the steps the president authorized on Thursday amount to more of his administration’s half-measures, narrowly tailored to this week’s emergency and unconnected to any coherent strategy to address the conflagration spreading across the Middle East. …

Yet by the White House’s own account, the measures ordered by Mr. Obama are not intended to defeat the Islamic State or even to stop its bloody advances in most of the region. Instead they are limited to protecting two cities where U.S. personnel are stationed and one mass of refugees. The hundreds of thousands of people in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere threatened by the al-Qaeda forces will receive no U.S. protection.

That’s the Washington Post’s Editorial Board, not usually leading the charge in criticism of the president.

President Obama is trapped in his self-created bubble. He was elected, he believes, to end the war in Iraq, and sees doing so as possibly his greatest achievement. He regarded getting out as the goal, rather than a gradual turnover as Iraq became more able to deal with problems on their own. Even now, he doesn’t understand that there is a genocide in progress, that is endowed with billions stolen from all the banks in Iraq, the world’s best and most modern weapons which which we outfitted the Iraqis, and gullible jihadis are flocking from all over the world to join up in the bloodletting.

Europe assumed that it was a good idea to replace their declining birthrate by admitting immigrants, for they had seen how immigration enriched America. But they didn’t get the assimilation part. They got a lot of Islamist immigrants, but they didn’t turn them into real citizens. It looks like over 900 French nationals have answered to call to jihad in Iraq, and volunteers in significant numbers are coming from Britain and most European countries. Even young women are flocking to become ‘jihadi wives,’ unaware they will end up as sex-slaves and either dead or in the brothels of the Middle East.

I cannot imagine what visions of “the Caliphate” attract them— the opportunity to kill with abandon, long trains of battle-hardened jihadis bristling with guns and tanks, flying the black flag of the Islamic State? Is it an ideal of suddenly being powerful? Too many romantic movies?

We see the primitive blood-lust, the sheer barbarianism and fail to take it seriously at our peril. The Middle East is more unstable today than it has been in years. Global energy supplies are at risk and with that, the entire world economy. The Islamic State seizes vast swaths of land and resources, murders and terrorizes whole nations and recruits thousands of new fighters with Western passports and plots another attack on the United States. Its much more comfortable to blame the failures of your own society on the west than to fault your own backward society.

Ali Khedery is an expert on the Middle East, CEO of the Dubai-based Dragoman Partners, and previously worked the U.S. State and Defense departments, and served as an American official in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, special assistant to five U.S. ambassadors and senior advisor to three commanders of U.S. Central Command.

When he says “They’re coming” and “another 9/11 is imminent” we need to pay attention. He wrote a letter to President Obama in Politico on Tuesday, attempting to warn the president that he needs new advisors, and a “Middle East Czar.” “Someone who can help contain and quell separate conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq before they merge into a full-fledged regional war.” This is not the J.V. team, but the most virulent form of transnational jihad the planet has ever seen. Here he is, being interviewed by Jake Tapper.



Is There a Bit of a Disconnect Here?

When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to the Marines in San Diego, he described the ISIS army in Iraq as a threat unlike any the world has ever seen:

The Iraqi people, the government of Iraq, country of Iraq is now under threat from some of the most brutal, barbaric forces we’ve ever seen in the world today, and a force, ISIL [ISIS], and others that is an ideology that’s connected to an army and it’s a force and a dimension that the world has never seen before like we have seen it now.

He added that he had recommended to the president, and the president has authorized him to send about 130 new assessment team members up to northern Iraq in the Erbil area to take a closer look and ‘give a more in-depth assessment of where we can continue to help the Iraqis with what they’re doing and the threats that they are now dealing with.”

Erbil is a Kurdish city that has been under siege that “has been relieved somewhat by 19 U.S. air strikes over four days,” according to CBS.

Since they are just an “assessment team,” do they get to take their weapons? Or would that be too provocative?

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The Words We Use Matter — It’s a Very Big Deal!

[S]kill in language does provide a better hope of survival; it even wins wars, for struggle on the field of battle is a dramatic version of strife in the minds of men. Long before the first trigger was pulled, Hitler fired off a shattering salvo of words. He pounded his fist and shouted: Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!” Don’t make the mistake of thinking that his listeners muttered back an uncertain “Ach so, gewiss, gewiss.” They shouted back, Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!”

The cannonade roared across the Channel and shook the cliffs of England. Fortunately for us all, England, although unarmed, was not unready. The answering barrage rings in our ears still: “Blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” Battle was joined. Hitler’s words sent the Wehrmacht crashing to the outskirts of Dunkirk, but Churchill’s words sent schoolboys and accountants and retired fishmongers down to the sea in their little boats and over the water to the beaches of Dunkirk.

While that may be an incomplete account of the war, it is not an inaccurate one. It was a war of words and speaking just as much as a war of iron and blood. If the fighting was sometimes stupid and vicious, it was because certain other words were in the minds of men. Whatever else Churchill may have been doing in those days, he was always providing the English with words. With words he formed their thoughts and emotion. “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills,” said Churchill. Millions answered, apparently, “By God, so we shall.”

That’s an excerpt from Less Than Words Can Say, by the late Richard Mitchell, the Underground Grammarian, a book I have recommended to everyone I know who has an interest in language. I am passionate about the book;  I don’t know that I’ve ever run into anyone else who is, but I keep trying. There are three more books in his explorations of language. I quote it to emphasize that the way something is said — makes a difference.

We can talk and talk, but suddenly someone puts a thought into words that resonate with you and your understanding changes permanently. The words of Scott Johnson’s “worldly-wise man” in my earlier post really resonated with me, and explained the extent to which members of the left live in a bubble of their own construct, that controls their thought and their actions.

Words from those of us on the right do not penetrate, except to be thought stupid or irrational. Our complaints do not register at all. Obama lives behind an impenetrable wall — from behind which he can shoot moral arrows to demonstrate his superiority and destroy any emerging criticism.

The Left understands the importance of language. That’s why they keep changing names, like changing “liberal” (unpopular) to “progressive,” and devising slogans and talking-points that become required for liberal speech.

“Global warming” (now “climate change”) is an excellent example. There is unassailable proof from observation in the real world that there is a seventeen year old pause in warming due to the sun going quiet. No sunspots. The computer models used by the IPCC put in what is known about climate (not very much) add some intelligent guesses, and some pure fantasy, assume that to be an accurate picture of the climate — that can predict the future up to 50 and 100 years in the future, and accept the whole damn thing as gospel truth. Anyone who disagrees is to be fired, prevented from publishing, run out of the scientific community, and thoroughly disgraced — because they rely on real observation of the real world — and have the nerve to question the given word of the left. That’s the Leftist bubble.

Government grants, regulations, fines, career success, and everything from the disappearance of cheap, efficient incandescent lightbulbs, to recycling, reliance on expensive, inefficient solar and wind energy, that can never provide a significant amount of energy, electric cars, and the current attempt to make coal-fired power plants all shut down on January 1,which will overload the power grid and freeze people to death in what is predicted to be a colder, harsher winter than last year.

This president is operating from within the leftist bubble, and he is not interested in dissent or disagreement which are to him simply stupid enemy attacks. He has no need to listen — because he is right. “Hope and Change” doesn’t cut it anymore.



Can We Learn From History? Not If We’re Learning Lies.
August 13, 2014, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Politics

Did the United States win or lose the Vietnam War? We are taught that it was a resounding loss for America, one that proves that intervening in the affairs of other nations is usually misguided. The truth is that our military won the war, but our politicians lost it. The Communists in North Vietnam actually signed a peace treaty, effectively surrendering. But the U.S. Congress didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. In just five minutes, learn the truth about who really lost the Vietnam War.

When the vets came home from the Vietnam War, they were spat upon, and called “baby killers.” The Left has their preferred history, upon which they depend. History is much more satisfying if you reinvent it to serve your own political purposes.



Are We Capable of Learning From History?

Iraq-Jihadist-flag_2947305b
What do you do with human nature? Good and Evil? There have been many articles portraying the Islamic State, ISIS or IS, as pure evil—yet they see themselves as purifying their world by eliminating those who do not worship their real God properly. They are tearing down shrines and archeological monuments as antithetical, destroying the past as portrayed by rival religions. They are not just demanding adherence to their version of Islam, but those who don’t submit instantly are slaughtered, executed, crucified, beheaded or buried alive. All in the name of religion. Clearly, they believe they are doing good.

Obama, to all appearances, believes that America’s assumption of world leadership has been immoral and has caused almost all the world’s problems over the past century, and we need to let others take the leadership position so we can be something more like a big Belgium. He has been forced by world events to take notice, but he doesn’t want to do it, he finds the ways prescribed to tackle events disagreeable, and he would much prefer to just tell everybody to stop it and start getting along. To make matters worse he keeps telling everyone that he won’t do anything actually unpleasant because he would prefer to be admired. That has no restraining effect on our enemies. That Nobel Peace Prize was a long time ago.

This is in total agreement with a major sector of the Democratic Party. Elizabeth Warren, leftist crackpot, said that “the president has now taken two very targeted actions, and those two actions will change the mix of what’s happening in Iraq, and we’ll just have to monitor it.”

“The point is there has to be a negotiated solution in Iraq, but we don’t negotiate with terrorists. This is partially a question of whether the U.S. government negotiates or whether we have the Iraqi government doing these negotiations, and how we help support them as they try to maintain an integrated country, and a country that better represents all of the people who live there.”

I don’t think the president’s actions will change anything, except IS will spread out more so they are not such good targets. Nobody is interested in the slightest in negotiation, or in sharing a nation. It is way too late for that. There may be a moment in time when antagonist forces are open to just stopping their losses, but that was before they became the richest terrorist group on earth and the best equipped.

Obama is still certain that he can negotiate a settlement between Hamas and Israel, that somehow he can persuade the Israelis to give up enough land and freedom to satisfy Hamas and there will be a “two-state solution.” He really cannot get it through his head that Hamas just wants all Israelis dead. Genocide.

Understanding human nature means grasping the depths to which human evil can descend. We read about it, but we just don’t get it. The media, to protect our sensibilities, carefully blurs the heads and the bodies of the victims of the Islamic State. We have a picture today of a little kid, 7 years old, with a decapitated head in a bag over his shoulder. You can’t see the head, just the bulge in the bag. Small children are being offered weapons so they can go kill infidels for the glory of Allah. What do you do with the mentality that glorifies killing and celebrates blood lust?

There are lessons to be learned from every conflict, but we seldom learn them. We prefer to be entertained, and wait for the media to tell us what they believe we ought to know. The media, in general, are not up to the task. We have an obligation to study up, to understand our own times and our own history. We expect our representatives to manage our affairs responsibly, and we elect representatives who are neither responsible nor qualified.  Will they learn the lessons of history?

Democracy cannot thrive without a certain diet of truth. It cannot survive if the degree of truth in current circulation falls below a minimal level. A democratic regime, founded on the free determination of important choices made by a majority, condemns itself to death if most of the citizens who have to choose between various options make their decisions in ignorance of reality, blinded by passions or misled by fleeting impressions.
………………………………………………...Jean-Francois Revel



“Leaving Iraq? As If This Was My Decision” Part II

It is true that the Bush administration had agreed to end our troop presence. Iraq, naturally wanted to govern their own  country on their own. They were aware that their military needed more training in order to keep the peace. If we were going to stay, Obama had to negotiate a new “status of force agreement” with the Iraqis.

Why that didn’t happen is a complicated question, and Iraqis wanting to be in control of their own country was part of the answer, but only part. Obama was ambivalent about retaining any force in the country. The American officials who were negotiating with the Iraqis were left without guidance from the White House for months.

Dexter Filkins who wrote a definitive piece for The New Yorker quoted an Iraqi politician: “The American attitude was: Let’s get out of here as quickly as possible.”

This was Obama’s most important political promise. I’m not at all sure that it is actually what Americans wanted. The media’s favorite cliché is “war weary.” In the face of a long political campaign centered on mostly meaningless phrases, ending the War in Iraq was one of the few real promises. Obama proudly declared “Mission Accomplished.”

It may not have made any difference, but troops on the ground would have given us a large measure of influence. The Middle East is not much given to peaceful elective government. See Rick Lowry’s piece in the New York Post.

Without the United States as an honest broker, it has been downhill ever since. Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, the former deputy commander in Iraq, told Filkins, “Everything that has happened there was not just predictable — we predicted it.”

Iraq is perhaps the purest expression of the Obama doctrine.



Saving the World With Platitudes, One At a Time.

On August 8, Friday, The New York Times published an interview with the president by Thomas Friedman, titled a bit grandiosely “Obama on the World.” Mr. Friedman is a long-time admirer of Mr. Obama, so it is a gentle interview that allows the president to fully express his successes (many) and failures (very few). It’s hard to know just what to make of it.

Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished.

At the end of the day, the president mused, the biggest threat to America — the only force that can really weaken us — is us. We have so many things going for us right now as a country — from new energy resources to innovation to a growing economy — but, he said, we will never realize our full potential unless our two parties adopt the same outlook that we’re asking of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds or Israelis and Palestinians: No victor, no vanquished and work together.

America, he believes, is dysfunctional, and societies don’t work if political factions take maximalist positions. Oh please. Just explain yourself in straightforward prose — all of Obama’s problems derive from the nasty Republicans who won’t do what he says. Can he possibly believe that a clever new phrase will allay centuries-old enmity that has had Muslim tribes killing each other ever since the sixth century?

Scott Johnson, over at Powerline, apparently had the same misgivings. He said: “I asked the person who is perhaps the most worldly-wise man I know if he could comment on Obama’s interview with Obama apostle Tom Friedman as related …in the Times article “Obama on the World.” His acquaintance responded that he had wondered about this viewpoint.

He said both James Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr. separately and in other contexts said something about “ignorance allied with power” being the worst imaginable combination. I  just read a piece by Angelo Codevilla, which began with a similar quotation: “Combining the unbridled tongue with the unready hand.” Thus did Theodore Roosevelt define statesmanship at its worst. This is what America’s bipartisan ruling class is giving us.

Scott Johnson’s unidentified worldly-wise man continued:

I think with Obama it starts with ignorance which in his formative years became a required doctrine of the intelligentsia when it came to understanding the way the world works in matters of international security; to be considered politically correct you had to spurn and despise such painfully developed concepts and practices as the balance of power, the necessity of using strength and diplomacy in tandem, etc.

This was allied with a personal drive for High Moralism, the felt need to build a castle around yourself behind a moat of 12-foot thick walls from behind which you could shoot moral arrows at everyone else to demonstrate your superiority and quickly destroy any emerging criticism of yourself. So from this position of invincible ignorance allied with moral perfection and then allied with power, you could become able to cross a line in history to reach a new world shaped by your conviction of your perfected sensibility.

This would mean, 1.) taking the US out of its despicable role of world leadership, which has been immoral and has caused almost all the world’s problems over at least the past century, and 2.) “Transforming” America into a country moral enough to be worthy of you, a kind of big Belgium. As the wicked of the world have refused to fall into line behind this vision, it has made the president increasingly sour and feeling put upon.

At this point he has been forced to do something like take a presidential decision of the kind that all previous presidents have known they would have to take– the “hard decisions” recognized by the president’s hero Reinhold Niebuhr but never recognized by the president. So he has been forced by events to do it. But he didn’t want to do it. And he keeps making it clear that he is determined not to do it in an effective way, to assure our enemies of the many things he will never do, and to sulk about it for the foreseeable future as he relates his unappreciated fate to those who share his feelings, like Tom Friedman.

This makes sense to me. We on the right side of the political spectrum spend way too much time trying to understand the left — how they think, what they understand and what they don’t understand — because they just don’t seem to make sense. That is correct. They do not make sense. The philosophizing and moralizing that are such an animating factor and seem so formidable in the hot house of the faculty lounge — don’t work well out in the real world.

They are not operating in the real world. They don’t do their homework. “High moralism” just doesn’t cut it. It’s all very nice to come up with a new phrase — “no victor, no vanquished”— or you just have to compromise, and if  you don’t, we’ll wash our hands of you. This is not exactly a viable foreign policy.

Obama told Mr. Friedman that the “extremist ideology” that’s taken over the GOP, the “balkanization of the media has blocked my agenda.” What agenda is that? Can’t everybody just get along — is not an agenda. It’s not even an idea, but simply a platitude.

Tom Friedman apparently spent the weekend mulling things over. This morning he said we are absolutely clueless in the Middle East. That’s about right.




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