The pope knows, &c.

Pope Benedict XVI and Leon Panetta meet in Rome, January 16, 2013.


When I read the opening of this Associated Press report, my heart sank, and my bile rose: “U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the leader of the world’s largest military, met Pope Benedict XVI, the world’s best known advocate for peace, at the Vatican on Wednesday.”

Ay, caramba! There is no contradiction between the Pentagon and peace. In fact, there is harmony. Bill Buckley once observed that the Pentagon ought to win the Nobel Peace Prize every year, because the U.S. military is (or was) the world’s foremost guarantor of peace.

What did Theodore Roosevelt say? He was the winner of the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize, you know. And, in his autobiography, he wrote, “In my own judgment the most important service that I rendered to peace was the voyage of the battle fleet around the world.”


Anyway, what a beautiful gift the fourth paragraph of the AP report was. Here it is: “Panetta kissed the Pope’s hand, and the Pope said, ‘Thank you for helping to protect the world.’”

Yes. On reading that, I thought, “There’s a man who knows something about history. About geopolitics. About reality.” Yes, indeed.

In this article, you can read about a letter that the joint chiefs of staff sent to Congress. They said, “The readiness of our Armed Forces is at a tipping point. We are on the brink of creating a hollow force . . .” And they were fairly specific, too: “Should this looming readiness crisis be left unaddressed, we will have to ground aircraft, return ships to port,” and so on.

Another article includes some paragraphs on a Panetta press conference. He was talking about funding — the funding that is coming or not coming for defense. He said, “We have no idea what the hell’s going to happen. All told, this uncertainty, if left unresolved by the Congress, will seriously harm our military readiness.”

Yup. We’ve reached a pretty pass when our defense secretary admits to the world, “We have no idea what the hell’s going to happen.” Where is the president in all this? Is he willing for the military to be hollow?

That is a big, big question, and I am shocked, even after four years, to have to ask it.

Who did this? Who put Obama in the Oval Office? Who made him commander-in-chief? The American people, of course, and I think that the people are asleep, to a degree. Their awakening may be brutal.

The AP reported — though “reported” is not the word — “HAWKISH NETANYAHU LIKELY TO BE RE-ELECTED.” The wire service continued, “Israelis, who head to the polls Tuesday, no longer seem to believe that peace with the Palestinians is possible.”

I have two comments on the AP’s spin: First, they have called Netanyahu “hawkish,” and that he is. But I wonder whether they would refer to a dovish leader as “dovish.”

Second, it may be that Israelis voting for Netanyahu are realistic: realistic about what it takes to make peace, keep peace, and ensure national survival. Maybe they think that Netanyahu stands between them and annihilation by Iran. Maybe they think that he is the one to look out for Israeli interests when there is a hostile, or semi-hostile, in the Oval Office. Maybe they think that true peace with the Palestinians can be forged only on a realistic basis, not on wishful thinking.

You know?

I try not to say that Democrats sound like Communists. No one likes a McCarthyite! But sometimes the Democrats make it very hard. I was reading a post by Andrew Johnson — an NR-nik, not to be confused with the 17th president — on the Corner, here at NRO. He summarized what Lawrence O’Donnell, an MSNBC host, had said about Tom Selleck.

O’Donnell implicated the actor and the organization he supports, the NRA, in the Newtown massacre. (I support the NRA too, strongly.) O’Donnell said, “Yes, it is time to question Tom Selleck’s humanity.”

I’m thinking, “Maybe Tom should be declared an unperson?” If O’Donnell and Selleck were Chinese, and living through the Cultural Revolution, what would O’Donnell do to Selleck? What would he favor doing to him?