My weekend column muses on the glorious future foreseen by Obama’s speech to the General Assembly. But I’ve also been struck by the following passage on the late Chris Stevens, mysteriously asphyxiated by a spontaneous class-action movie review, as every government official from the Commander-in-Chief to his UN Ambassador has so persuasively argued. At Turtle Bay, the President paid tribute to his murdered diplomat thus:
Chris went to Benghazi in the early days of the Libyan revolution, arriving on a cargo ship. As America’s representative, he helped the Libyan people as they coped with violent conflict, cared for the wounded, and crafted a vision for the future in which the rights of all Libyans would be respected.
And after the revolution, he supported the birth of a new democracy, as Libyans held elections, and built new institutions, and began to move forward after decades of dictatorship.
Chris Stevens loved his work. He took pride in the country he served, and he saw dignity in the people that he met.
Two weeks ago, he traveled to Benghazi to review plans to establish a new cultural center…
What does that phrase “the country he served” mean? The country Ambassador Stevens was supposed to be serving was the United States, just as Libyan diplomats in Washington are supposed to serve the national interest of Libya. Yet in the context of his surrounding remarks (which are all about the place he was posted to: Chris “crafted a vision for the future”, “supported the birth of a new democracy”, etc) the President appears to give the impression that he thinks “the country he served” was Libya.
This would seem to be a failure, at the very top, of the old George Schultz test. I’m open to persuasion that “the country he served” is in fact a reference to America, but, if not, it’s a revealing glimpse of how deep the delusions of transnationalist do-goodery have seeped into the body politic. The United States is not the world’s biggest non-profit NGO. It is a nation state with national interests whose ambassadors and plenipotentiaries are paid by taxpayers to advance those interests. China understands that, Russia understands that, so does France. Washington’s reluctance to grasp that basic point explains much – from those embarrassing Tweets by that buffoon in the Cairo embassy to its inability to win wars against goatherds armed with string and fertilizer.