Heartless humorist P.J. O’Rourke reimagines Kennedy’s stirring inaugural address in a contemporary setting, as part of a cruel mockery of our rudderless but belligerent Chief Executive:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill—and since we’re not engaged in nation-building, every nation should wish us well—that we shall pay any price if it’s not too high, bear any burden unless it’s burdensome, meet any hardship unless it’s hard, support any friend if we have any, oppose any foe—although no nation should think of us as a foe because we’re not that kind of country anymore—to assure the survival and success of liberty, unless it’s a holiday weekend.
Mean-spirited, yes? Read The Whole Thing™, in which numerous stirring speeches of world and American history are recast in today’s Leading From Behind® vein. It isn’t too hard to imagine this guy on Bunker Hill: “Don’t fire until you see the whites . . . But we should not understand this as a racial issue.” But it takes an O’Rourke to make a full two pages out of it, and take it from King Leonidas to Neil Armstrong, then conclude on a quote that will not just buff out.
As far as Syria goes: air and cruise missile strikes will be ineffective and cause substantial unintentional damage and suffering if they are not guided by special operations forces, either military or from an other government agency, on the ground. That is the lesson of every ineffective bombing campaign in history, from World War II’s strategic bombing that did not disable German war industries, through the unsuccessful interdiction campaigns in Italy, Korea, and Vietnam, to the 95%-wasted bombing of Serbia and the futile cruise-missile strikes on Afghanistan in 1998.
It was only when eyes on the ground combined with thunder from the sky, in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, that the bombing became effective. It lost its effectiveness when this model was replaced with one based on armed drones working targets developed exclusively by ambiguous, easily-spoofed technical surveillance.
A Syrian attack that puts SOF on the groud is anathema to the electorate. One that does not will kill a lot of Syrians and blow up a lot of stuff, but will probably stiffen the regime’s resistance. (But bombing makes people give up, right? Well, the Air Force and the clueless, zero-days-in-uniform Georgetown/Harvard axis like to believe that, but take a moment to consider what bombing did to morale in London in 1940 and Berlin in 1944. The former fought through it to victory, and the latter resisted until overrun by Russian infantry and tanks).
And while it’s great fun to enjoy O’Rourke’s well-aimed barbs, we only have one President at a time, we have this one for the next 3 1/2 years, and no good comes of having a head of state and of government who is an international laughingstock. That he did it to himself is immaterial: he will not suffer for it; his vast fortune, his even larger self-regard, and his committed cult-of-personality in the media will suffer no dent or stain. The country, and any poor bastard that gets deployed on his watch, are the ones who’ll have to suffer.