Following on the heels of news that Ukraine has asked America for socks (among more substantial things) to deal with its crisis, to which Jonah Goldberg reacted by claiming President Obama was waving frilly things at serial killers – or something – we have David Brooks trying to avoid embarrassing the president likewise. But failing.
Basically since Yalta we’ve had an assumption that borders are basically going to be borders and once that comes into question if in Ukraine or in Crimea or anywhere else, then all over the world all bets are off. And let’s face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a — I’ll say it crudely — but a manhood problem in the Middle East.
It’s possible that Brooks has replaced the world’s view of Obama with his own. After the Navy SEAL raid in Abbottabad I doubt too many Pakistanis – or Al Qaeda affiliates – think he’s a squish.
Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad or somebody like Putin? I think a lot of the rap is unfair but certainly in the Middle East there is an assumption that he’s not tough enough.
Most of the Middle East think any U.S. President is a mindless butcher. An invasion of Syria would be good evidence of that, so I’m not sure an American macho-thon would do us any good. Perhaps now would be a good time to remember Brooks’ oohing and aahing over the manly (ergo wise) George W. Bush administration:
On April 28, 2003, beating President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech by three days, Brooks declared that “the war in Iraq is over.” The political and cultural implications of victory promised to be profound. A collaboration between policy makers in Washington and troops on the battlefield had removed any last doubts as to American global dominion. Brooks sang the praises of “a ruling establishment that can conduct wars with incredible competence and skill.” The United States, he enthused, was an “incredibly effective colossus that can drop bombs onto pinpoints, [and] destroy enemies that aren’t even aware they are under attack.”
With Americans on the home front appropriately dazzled by what the troops had accomplished on the battlefield, Brooks’s sensitive antenna detected a decisive shift in public sentiment. “One hears,” he wrote, “of a growing distaste for the peace marchers . . . driven by bile and self-righteousness [and] fundamentally out of step” with the rest of the country. To be in step was to support the troops, which necessitated supporting the war and the larger ambitions cultivated by the war’s proponents. “Many college students seem to sense that these soldiers are accomplishing something for humanity, while all they are doing is preparing for business school.”
With the Iraq War having done so much “for humanity” the lesson in foreign policy is clear. You have to present your substantial manhood to the world before anything good can happen. This president should wave something meatier than fanciful socks at America’s enemies. He might channel a little Tom Friedman:
Suck. On. This.