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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hitch on the Mark.

Christopher Hitchens has been on fire recently. First, he thoroughly excavated the falsifications in The King's Speech (and went on to defend his criticism) and now he has called out President Obama's inaction with his signature acerbic wit, asking if he is really Swiss.

The Obama administration also behaves as if the weight of the United States in world affairs is approximately the same as that of Switzerland. We await developments. We urge caution, even restraint. We hope for the formation of an international consensus. And, just as there is something despicable about the way in which Swiss bankers change horses, so there is something contemptible about the way in which Washington has been affecting—and perhaps helping to bring about—American impotence. Except that, whereas at least the Swiss have the excuse of cynicism, American policy manages to be both cynical and naive.

This has been especially evident in the case of Libya. For weeks, the administration dithered over Egypt and calibrated its actions to the lowest and slowest common denominators, on the grounds that it was difficult to deal with a rancid old friend and ally who had outlived his usefulness. But then it became the turn of Muammar Qaddafi—an all-round stinking nuisance and moreover a long-term enemy—and the dithering began all over again. Until Wednesday Feb. 23, when the president made a few anodyne remarks that condemned "violence" in general but failed to cite Qaddafi in particular—every important statesman and stateswoman in the world had been heard from, with the exception of Obama. And his silence was hardly worth breaking. Echoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had managed a few words of her own, he stressed only that the need was for a unanimous international opinion, as if in the absence of complete unity nothing could be done, or even attempted. This would hand an automatic veto to any of Qaddafi's remaining allies. It also underscored the impression that the opinion of the United States was no more worth hearing than that of, say, Switzerland. Secretary Clinton was then dispatched to no other destination than Geneva, where she will meet with the U.N. Human Rights Council—an absurd body that is already hopelessly tainted with Qaddafi's membership.

The whole article is well-worth reading and I'm sorry I didn't get to it yesterday in my google reader. I grew up with the assumption that America was, far and away, the most important diplomatic body in the world. Articles like this one from Hitchens are a sobering reminder that there is much at stake with an incompetent noodle at the helm of our republic.
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  1. Good catch, Kathleen, although Hitch and "sobering" in the same sentence ...?

    I've been a fan of that man and monumental mind for a long time. His terrible cancer hasn't seemed to slow him down in his quest to parse the political animal and human condition and inject some razor sharp, rational moral sense into dulled sensibility.

  2. Hitch was wrong about Churchill as Hitch went too far in the other direction. Prior to WW2 Churchill perceived, correctly as it turned out, that Stalinism posed a more violent and lasting threat to Europe than Nazism.

    But he seems to be correct about the Obama Administration. I wonder though if it's more than just a leadership problem. Perhaps American society has become to effeminate to effectively deal with a Qaddafi.

  3. What needs to be added to all that, and I apologize if I missed that the article already did (thought I didn't see it), is that while the Middle East burns, Obama parties with his Democrat corporate millionaire buddies first at a taxpayer-funded Motown concert, then at a taxpayer funded Gladys Knight concert. It's as if the Administration is frantically trying to create bread and circuses for itself while the rest of us are left to deal with the problem.

  4. Since Mr. Hitchens opined that the Tea Party exists largely because certain Americans are upset that there is a black man in the Oval Office, it follows that Mr. Hitchens must be a racist.