The Corner

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Pre-empting Pre-emption


Mario Loyola is quite right about Nicholas Burns’ statement on Iran. If the US is invoking the right of self-defense against an armed attack, why agree in advance only to exercise it on your turf (Iraq) rather than the aggressor’s (Iran)? Militarily, that makes no more sense than trying to win the Super Bowl by announcing you’re going to stay down your own end for the entire game.

But, psychologically, it’s deficient, too: I think the American people are fine when you’re on the offense but are temperamentally less comfortable with what I called last fall “thankless defensive semi-colonial policing operations”. If you read Byron York’s account of our meeting with the President last fall, I think my question to him remains very pertinent. Why do Mr Burns and other spokespersons for the United States government spend so much time explaining all the options they’ve taken off the table?