August 5 2013
We don’t often write about foreign affairs on Inkwell.
But this morning we woke up in a United States quite different from the one we are used to. The closing of 21 U. S. embassies in the Middle East, amid threats of man-caused contingencies, cannot be ignored. Feels weird, huh?
We don’t want other embassy officials to suffer the fate of the four who died in Benghazi, where a phony scandal took place. So it would be wrong to second guess the administration for closing the embassies. It’s just that this is a new chapter in our history. That’s all.
Mark Steyn, as is often the case, captures our new predicament as Americans in an NRO piece entitled “The Cringing Superpower:”
Today, across Africa, Araby and Asia, from Nouakchott to Dhaka, the diplomatic facilities of the United States are closed. There’s a Tsarnaev out there, somewhere – could be the Mahgreb, the Levant, the Horn of Africa, the Indian sub-continent – who knows? So, as Richard Fernandez writes, “Shelter in place, this time globally.”
Maybe it will work. Maybe by the end of the day there will be, unlike Benghazi a year on, men in custody. But if not?
The naïve and misguided man who runs our country must be as surprised as anybody.
President Obama came into office thinking that the world shared his view of the United States as a swashbuckling, errant superpower that had done a lot of bad stuff in the world. He figured that when the world knew that a new man who deplored the faults of what he viewed as an imperialistic United States as much as they did had taken the reins of power, they would love, if not us, certainly him. Indeed, the elegant young man whom we had installed in our highest office went to Cairo to proclaim the dawn of a new day. As Sarah Palin might put it, How's that working out for ya?
The president was marinated in the politics of the faculty lounge. He was not thoughtful enough or original enough to challenge the cliches of the intellectual left or to grasp that the much-maligned United States was history's most benign great nation. He didn't realize that those who hate America hate us not because we were a bad superpower but because we were a superpower.
Sometimes, in fact, they hated us and at other times they begged us to come and save them. In the second category fall the cries for help that came from the lips of people struggling for freedom in Iran, pleas that fell on deaf ears. Obama was not with them.
The world is always a frightening place. It’s hard to know how much of this is the fault of any one man, any one administration, or any one secretary of state who confuses miles traveled with genuine achievement. The seething hatred of the United States would have seethed no matter who is in the White House.
But I can’t help thinking that a less naïve leader, a leader who recognized that he had been elected to serve a nation that need apologize to no one, might have done better by us. Certainly, the Russians have taken the measure of this man.