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Today in Stupidity: Who Lost Syria?

15 March 2012

7:38 PM

15 March 2012

7:38 PM

Perhaps I should apologise to Leon Wieseltier? His recent column is not a patch on Jennifer Rubin’s latest screed which may be the most stupid and contemptible thing I’ve yet read today. Ms Rubin peers at Barack Obama’s Syrian policy and does not like what she sees:

Not unlike the Green Revolution in 2009, the president nearly three years later is willing to allow an opportunity — to undermine Iran, support democracy, reassert U.S. leadership — slip away. Every now and then the president talks a good game on human rights, but his heart is never in it. In this case, even when coupled with an obvious and compelling national security objective, passivity rules the day.

Obama’s reelection objective, namely no more foreign conflicts, trumps decent policy. But the foreign conflicts don’t go away simply because we don’t participate. Instead, despots triumph, other powers (e.g. Russia) extend their influence and the United States’s credibility is eroded. When they ask, “Who lost Syria and Iran?” you’ll know the answer.

It is not very clear whether by "decent" Ms Rubin means good or simply seemly. Neither definition flatters her argument though the suggestion that avoiding unnecessary foreign conflicts is indecent may tell you all you need to know about Ms Rubin’s demented argument.

Moreover, as Daniel Larison puts it This takes the usual paranoid arguments about “losing” other countries to new depths. Indeed it does. How can you lose what’s not yours? Lord North may have "lost" (most of) the American colonies; Barack Obama has lost neither Syria nor Iran for the excellent reason that neither unhappy country was his to lose in the first place. 

Again, however, there is this dangerous and fatuous notion that the United States has the ability to transform any event anywhere on the planet to its advantage. This is not so and has never been so. Even hyperpowers have their limits. The Iranian protestors, for instance, may dislike their leaders but only a cretin confuses with an enthusiasm for "American leadership". More to the point, greater US "support" for the Green Protests could only have damaged the opposition cause. People arguing that Obama should have done "more" show that they are more concerned with seeing something being done than the practical consequences of that action. Results may be unimportant; what matters is adopting the proper posture. This may be many things but it is not serious foreign policy.

Similarly, the calls for something to be done in Syria are long on splutter and notably short on actual proposals that might be feasible let alone useful. But what else can one expect from people who still appear to believe that the only thing that can stop the United States is a feeble Absence of Will? We’ve endured enough of this ass-hattery and dick-waving already and there’s no need to indulge any more of it.

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