Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Then we take out the Taliban Coast Guard

Semi-eminent classicist and amateur hyperventilator Victor Davis Hanson (the name sounds like a white-shoe agency but he is apparently just one person) is in darkly prophetic mood over in The Corner:
Next year could be a frightening one, in the fashion of 1979–80.... The Obama administration is debating no-fly zones over Syria; more likely, it will have the same discussion over Afghanistan soon, once the Taliban drops the diplomatic veneer and comes back into town.
More likely than what? It seems most unlikely that the administration will be talking about no-fly zones in Afghanistan as long as the Taliban has no aircraft. That's all the [jump]

excuse our lazy, shiftless president needs for doing nothing. (Nobody's debating no-fly zones in Syria either, by the way, except for ex-president McCain, since there is no way they could do anything but harm.)
Because of the failure to negotiate a single residual base in Iraq, Iran has appropriated a vast air corridor to the Middle East.
Not because the U.S. under a certain former administration installed a Shiite-led government in Iraq which promptly became Iran's closest regional ally? You could put ten residual U.S. bases in Iraq without changing Maliki's mind on that, with or without the diplomatic veneer.
John Kerry speaks sonorously to Russia and China, but apparently assumes that diplomacy follows gentlemanly New England yacht protocols, the right of way given to the more sober, judicious, and pontificating.
I love the picture of New England yachtsmen soberly and judiciously pontificating on deck to determine who gets the right of way. Or of Secretary of State Hanson following the rude landlubber protocols of wherever he comes from (the family farm in the San Joaquin valley, where he would have gotten used to dealing with foreigners in the appropriate way—"I said no ice in that drink, Pablo"—, or the Stanford classics department, say). Wikipedia says he's a particular admirer of Donald Rumsfeld, so perhaps he'd be smothering Putin in paper snowflakes, or at least pontificating injudiciously and apparently drunk.
When Obamacare comes on line full bore, I think the American people could be quite depressed over the strange things they encounter. 
Just then the line began moving faster and faster, and then these... I don't know, these things on the conveyor belt, these peculiar objects... And something about them was somehow saddening—life suddenly began to seem so bleak, Doctor, I just didn't care...

In fact Hanson clearly has no idea what to expect from Obamacare but can only speak of it in these abstract but Lovecraftian, haunted terms; he hurries fearfully back through the economy to foreign relations, where the right vocabulary—"affair", "in and of itself", "small potatoes", "iconic", "compunction"—looks like a kind of knowledge:
The Snowden extradition affair in and of itself could be small potatoes, but it takes on enormous iconic importance when the Chinese and Russians feel no compunction about publicly snubbing the administration — 
Ah for the good old days, when the Chinese and Russians whipped off their caps whenever we majestically rode by, and scurried to do our bidding! Remember how anxious Putin used to be to keep young George happy?
We are back to the future, with the same old, same old sort of Carteresque engineered malaise.
We are back to Palinism, with pop culture references to an ill-remembered movie (it was "back" to the future because that is where the protagonist came from, not because the future was the past) and a hip noun misconstrued as an adjective; an entirely meaningless "sort of"; and a machine gun sputter of reminders of President Carter and his supposed "weakness". The rhetorical purpose of which is to summarize an argument Hanson has not in fact made (that there is some kind of equivalence between Carter and President Obama, and between 1980 and 2014), to make you believe he's made it.

And presumably that there's a parallel equivalence between Ronald Reagan and whoever Hanson wants us to vote for in the imaginary election of 2014, when his mind will be off shooting down those Taliban pilots.

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