This article is only superficially funny when directed towards our current President’s foreign policy reputation; or, more accurately, our current President’s lack of same. In its pop-cultural way, it’s actually devastating.
Let’s move forward a bit from Machiavelli for our strategic guidance. Let’s refer instead to the great classic of American strategic pedagogy, Happy Days.
In one episode, Fonzie tried to teach Richie his style. Richie practiced the grimaces, the flexes, the stares, but alas the bad guys were not impressed and certainly not deterred.
In the midst of a desperate scrape, Richie turned to Fonzie imploringly and asked: Why are my deadly looks, threatening flexes and strategic grimaces having no effect?
Oh yeah, Fonzie replied, I forgot to tell you. For all that to work, once in your life you have to have hit someone. You cannot imagine a deeper strategic insight.
Greg Sheridan is by the way an Australian, which means that he doesn’t have a dog in our domestic political fights. What he does have is a point when he writes that “[a]t some point, Obama is going to have to do something seriously unpleasant to someone.” This is so clearly self-evident to most of the people who’ll read this (and so clearly incomprehensible to the rest of them) that it’s surprising that I’m even bothering to write it out, but it remains true. The President will be pushed at, with increasing brazenness, until he decides to push back; the question is not whether he’ll eventually push back, but whether he’ll do so carefully. To be perfectly honest, I expect a rather unmeasured and fairly overcompensated reaction to whatever outrage out there finally causes the President’s temper to snap. To be followed by a foreign policy embarrassment for the United States.
I don’t want to see that happen, of course – but then again, it’s not going to be my fault; after all, I voted for the other guy.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.