American Leadibility

I’m trying out the above neologism as a combination of “American Leadership” and “American Credibility,” the two things that Very Serious People always throw around as the reasons why we should leap headlong into one foreign adventure or another. Consider Syria, where John McCain doesn’t know who he’s getting his picture taken with but he knows that only American Leadership can Fix Things:

MCCAIN: And it cries out for American leadership. We need American leadership and that’s what I get in every country and every one of these people that I talk to. And yes I know the difference between Al-Nusra and the legitimate people who we should be supporting, and the best way to do that is give them a safe area to operate out of in Syria, and we can do it with cruise missiles, and we do not need any boots on the ground.

“[I]t cries out for American leadership.” I haven’t heard that cry, but maybe “it” cries at a frequency that only elderly war-mongers can hear? But that bit of completely vacuous nonsense is enough to be taken seriously as a foreign policy expert and dream Sunday-show guest.

Jeffrey Goldberg identifies (via) a Very Serious reason why we’re probably going to be escalating in Syria soon (note that this is Goldberg’s formulation and he probably thinks it makes sense, but more importantly it’s almost certainly the kind of thing that the administration’s foreign policy team talks about with respect to Syria):

3. Whether we like it or not, we are in a conflict with Iran, and our credibility is on the line. Obama seems eager to exit the Middle East. Most foreign policy experts, up to and including the secretary of state, believe that there is no hiding from its problems. The U.S. must play a leadership role in the Mideast or the vacuum left by its departure will be filled by radicals, of both the Shiite and Sunni varieties. It is true, as Dempsey has argued, that there is no exit strategy for Syria (in part because there’s not much of an entrance strategy, either), but the U.S. will soon face even bigger problems in the region if it doesn’t intervene now. Kerry understands the price of intervention. This is the lesson of Iraq. But he has also argued that there is a price to be paid for nonintervention.

Just once, I’d like us to pay the price for nonintervention in the Middle East, just to see what it’s like. The rest of it is mostly gibberish-filled platitudes that make no substantive case for intervention but are the kind of things that go unchallenged by our media and in our foreign policy establishment. American Credibility is on the line! Of course it is, it must be, because Iran something something! They’ve directly challenged us, somehow, we’re sure of it! And we must Lead, Dammit, in the Middle East or else vacuum! And radicals, who never develop when we do meddle around in that part of the world, only when we don’t meddle! WE WILL FACE BIGGER PROBLEMS IF WE DON’T INTERVENE RIGHT NOW! We can’t go into what problems those will be, not just now, but they’re going to be there! Probably! Sure Iraq, but that was then! And this is totally different, because in Syria we’d be toppling an unpopular tyrant from a sectarian minority, whereas Saddam was an unpopular tyrant from a sectarian minority! DO I HAVE TO SPELL IT OUT FOR YOU PEOPLE?


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