The Corner

‘A Pitiful, Helpless Giant’

Although not articulated until a few months later by, of all people, President Nixon in a televised address about Cambodia, that was the goal of Obama buddies Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn and other members of the Weather Underground during their juvenile but destructive temper tantrum known as the “Days of Rage.” Using the Vietnam War (practically a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, having been started by JFK and vigorously but impotently prosecuted by Lyndon Johnson) as a pretext for their highly selective indignation, these revolutionaries manqué believed they could bring down the government of the United States by tying it up in domestic turmoil to such an extent that Washington would become like Gulliver in Lilliput, bound hand and foot and lying prone before his enemies. As one of them said at the time:

Weatherman would shove the war down their dumb, fascist throats and show them, while we were at it, how much better we were than them, both tactically and strategically, as a people. In an all-out civil war over Vietnam and other fascist U.S. imperialism, we were going to bring the war home. ‘Turn the imperialists’ war into a civil war’, in Lenin’s words. And we were going to kick ass.

They bombed back in 1969, but never underestimate the power of a bad idea whose time has come. For a pitiful, helpless giant is exactly what America has become in this, the fifth year of the Obama administration — the Weathermen’s dream made flesh and going about its baleful business of “fundamental transformation,” whether we like it or not. The news that the State Department, under the leadership of another veteran of the anti-war movement, the winter soldier himself, John Kerry, has shuttered its embassies and other diplomatic installations across Africa and the Middle East in response to “chatter” and an unspecified threat of an attack, illustrates just how low a nation that once was home to Ulysses Grant, Black Jack Pershing, and George S. Patton has sunk. 

We should have seen this coming. The pathetic shelter-in-place policy on display in Boston during a manhunt for a wounded, barely armed teenager was just a taste of what was to come. Mark has already quoted a passage from Daniel Pipes’ admirable response to the Brave Sir Robins currently cowering in their tents along the banks of the Potomac. Here’s another; welcome to the “new normal“:

This timidity fits into a larger pattern that I have long found reprehensible. Here’s a comment of mine from 1998 I should like to resurrect, that responded to the double bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania almost exactly fifteen years ago, on Aug. 7, 1998:

It’ll be a happy day when American embassies are again built in busy downtown intersections out of normal materials – and not, as they are now, bunkers located in distant lots surrounded by high fences. Such a change will only be possible when the safety of Americans depends not on walls, metal detectors and Marine guards, but on the deterrence established by years of terrible retribution against anyone who so much as harms a single American citizen.

Deterrence, not shuttering the bunkers we call embassies, is the solution. Maybe Obama’s successor will understand this imperative.

Amen to that. The problem for the Right is that this pre-emptive supplication and surrender began not with Obama but with George W. Bush, whose response to September 11 — as the intervening years have made ever clearer — was almost completely wrong. About the only thing Bush got right was the decision to take down the Taliban — already on their way back, by the way. But Afghanistan was and is a nearly non-existent state; when it came to the other state actors — principally Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabist culture has spawned this global evil — Bush bought into the fiction that the Islamic ummah is simply a collection of independent nation-states with no common interest, retreated into petty legalisms, blew a lot of bushwah about Islam being a “peaceful” faith, and instead attacked the one guy in the Middle East who essentially had nothing to do with 9/11. So now Iraq will go from an officially secular/Baathist, Sunni-run thugocracy to an officially Islamic, Shi’a-run thugocracy, with a brief tourist stopover in American-style democracy, and America will have lost thousands of fighting men and women, squandered its tactical advantage against Iran, and have nothing to show for it, except a recrudescent al-Qaeda that now knows it has absolutely nothing to fear.

The “new normal”: Savages dictate to Foggy Bottom while congressmen cringe and the president plays golf; just like Ike, minus the total victory in World War II. This country used to know how to deal with far greater threats and actual assaults: ruthlessly and definitively. But this is what comes of turning into a nation of lawyers, not men. 

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