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Hullabaloo


Monday, March 10, 2014

 
Their wisdom makes them weary

by digby

There are a whole lot of people to whom we could apply this headline, no?
Leon Wieseltier’s Moral Posturing on Crimea Suggests He Learned Nothing From his Moral Posturing on Iraq
I can think of quite a few right off the top of my head. But this piece by Jim Sleeper is so good, so right, that I won't belabor that point:
...Already I’m swaying gently in anticipation of this week’s rendering of the liturgy. Wieseltier, a celebrant of other people’s courage in Baghdad, Teheran, Hamza, Beijing, and Kiev, rocks himself regularly into supplications for strong American leadership, with rhythmic incantations that aren’t practical or even intellectual but are clearly self-pleasuring. Sometimes they even arouse readers like me:

“Having deceived the country into believing that almost everything may be accomplished, [Obama] is deceiving it into believing that almost nothing may be accomplished. He is not raising the country up, he is tutoring it in ruefulness and futility. In our foreign policy, we are abandoning the world to its chaos and its cruelty, and disqualifying ourselves from acting on behalf of the largest and the most liberating ideals.”

That was Wieseltier two weeks ago, admonishing the President to respond somehow to Xi Jinping’s vicious crackdown on brave Chinese dissenters such as Xu Zhiyong, who is now a political prisoner following a trial at which he was stopped from reading a statement of liberal-democratic aspirations as eloquent as any that might have come from Wieseltier himself.

But what would Wieseltier have Obama do? “We must mentally arm ourselves against a reality about which we only recently disarmed ourselves: the reality of protracted conflict,” he advises, this time apropos of Russia’s encroachment upon Ukraine. “The lack of preparedness at the White House was not merely a weakness of policy but also a weakness of worldview,” he explains. “The president is too often caught off guard by enmity, and by the nastiness of things. There really is no excuse for being surprised by evil.”

So we must get better at recognizing evil when we see it. Wieseltier anticipated and applauded the preparedness and strong worldview of George W. Bush who, although surprised on 9/11, was never again caught off guard by enmity or evil.

In fact, even as Ground Zero lay smoking only days after 9/11, Wieseltier joined 42 other armchair warriors in delivering prescient strategic and moral advice to Bush in a letter sent Sept. 20, 2001 on the letterhead of William Kristol’s neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC): “[E]ven if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.”

That’s preparedness for you!
Read on. You won't regret it. Everything from what I've excerpted to the following conclusion is just great:
There are indeed times when liberals must fight to defend liberalism, to defeat enemies who’ve arisen, as did fascism and much of Communism, from within the interstices and contradictions of liberal capitalism itself. But Wieseltier lives for those times. Somewhat like Robert Kagan, who exulted, “The world has become normal again” in 2007 when the neoliberal global village started to resemble a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, Wieseltier finds his most reliable coordinates in imagining American face-offs with Iraq, with Iran, with Syria, with Russia — anything to dispel the specters of Munich, 1938 and Yalta, 1945.

Fortunately, not much is at stake in Wieseltier’s contributions to the House of Columns that passes for commentary in Washington. Singing of scars still doing the work of wounds, he might as well be intoning an epitaph for himself:

I am so wise,
That my wisdom makes me weary.
It’s all I can do
To share my wisdom with you.
They have always been wrong about everything.

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