The Corner

The Embarassing, Sophomoric Malice of Obama-Administration Foreign Policy

So, a “senior Obama administration official” called the prime minister of Israel — our closest ally in the Middle East and one of the few nations in the region that is not (a) imploding or (b) actively funding or supporting terrorists — “a chickenshit.” While that word has rocketed around the globe, other descriptions of Benjamin Netanyahu include, “recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery.’” And let’s not forget the worst word of all, “coward.” 

Behold, the beautiful and delicate rhetorical stylings of our cultural and political elite. They’re the improvisational jazz musicians of American diplomacy, always ready with just the right word to solidify alliances, avoid unnecessary confrontation, and reassure Americans they know exactly what they’re doing in the face of bloody violence.

This is what happens when the academic Left runs American foreign policy.

For those who’ve lived under a rock for the past four-plus decades, the American academy has been characterized by two prime impulses: one substantive, the other stylistic. First, there’s the substantive claim that the problems of the world can largely — if not entirely — be traced back to America’s sins and the sins of our Western allies, most notably Israel. These sins have caused the peoples of the world to accumulate a long list of “legitimate grievances,” and the problem of anti-American or anti-Israeli violence is therefore best dealt with by dealing with the underlying grievance. Thus the fury at George Bush and the steadfast belief that it was American foreign policy and not a particular strain of Islamic theology that fanned the fires of jihad. Thus the fury at Israel when it asserts its right of self-defense, even to the point of blaming the rise of the Islamic State on Israeli/Palestinian relations, when the Islamic State is fighting its wars against Shiites, Kurds, Yazidis, and Americans. 

Next, there’s the sophomoric, malicious style of campus rhetoric, where stigma is the preferred method of argument. It’s hard to overstate the propensity towards name-calling even of “elite” academics, and the culture of the academy is one where groupthink is enforced and reinforced through vicious rhetoric. Their opponents can’t be merely wrong. Instead they are racist, bigoted, homophobic, or — despite professed love of the disabled — “Aspergery.” The arrogance is overwhelming, and the fake tough-guy posture of name-calling elitists is laughable to everyone but themselves.

(By the way, have you noticed how much the elite drop profanity into conversations and commentary to signify how darn angry and serious they are? There’s nothing like a cursing nerd to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies — or friends.)

It should go without saying that this is no way to govern a great nation. So far the Obama administration’s legacy is one of bruised friendships and empowered enemies. The Islamic State rampages, Hamas restocks (with the help of American humanitarian aid), Boko Haram kidnaps, the Taliban advance, Russia owns new/old ground in Europe. And amidst the ruin of their foreign policy, the intellectual and emotional infants in the Obama administration hashtag away, mustering up their anger and fury to sling schoolyard insults at a close ally. All while doing their best to defer the hardest fighting against emerging enemies to the Oval Office’s next occupant.

Bravo. You truly have “reset” American foreign policy. You must feel so proud. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular


Holy Week with Saint Paul

Just the other day, I ordered a replacement copy of The Passion of the Christ -- it can be so impactful for Holy Week meditation. In the years since its release, it’s become something of required Lenten viewing for me. But this year, there is a new movie to help with prayer, Paul, Apostle of Christ, released ... Read More

Heckuva Job, Paul and Mitch

As Thursday's editorial makes clear, the omnibus spending bill is a disgrace. That may be why about 40 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Democrats) voted against it. Apart from the absence of a DACA/Dream amnesty, the immigration portions represent a comprehensive victory by the anti-enforcement crowd. ... Read More
Politics & Policy

California’s Pro-Nuclear Renegade

If California’s upcoming gubernatorial race gets decided solely by money, Michael Shellenberger doesn’t have a chance. The latest campaign filings show that Shellenberger, an environmentalist from Berkeley, has about $37,000 in cash on hand. The frontrunner in the June 5 California primary, Lieutenant ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Sliming of Bari Weiss

If you follow at all the ideological war that’s erupted around the New York Times editorial page, then you know Bari Weiss. It’s too much to call Bari conservative. A better description might be heterodox. On some issues, particularly social issues and immigration, she’s a woman of the Left. On others — ... Read More