Saturday, April 23, 2016

Boston Globe: If This Be Elite, What is Mediocre?

Jeff Jacoby

Don't you just wonder why sometimes?  I know I wonder why the Boston Globe, one of the two big circulation papers in that Athens of America, Boston, carries as a columnist this guy, Jeff Jacoby.

It's not as though even the Globe should print only columnists with the insight of Walter Lippmann or the zippy zing of George F. Will or the curiosity of David Brooks or the sheer exuberance and satiric power of Gail Collins, but you would think the Globe would have some...standards.  Like Fox News.
Serious Journalism in America Today

We have stopped having the paper version of  New York Times or the Globe home delivered--save the trees and all the reclycing-- and truth be told, it's just fine reading a daily paper on line. 

But on Sundays, we get the paper and lug it home and the Globe sits around all week and eventually I get around to reading the opinion pages and there he is, that lumpen concentration of confident mediocrity, Jeff Jacoby.

April 17th's piece "analyzing" President Obama's "disaster" which he calls the "Obama Doctrine," is a case in point. 

Here it is, boiled down: 
Re: Libya:  "America in effect washed its hands of responsibility for the country's fate. Not surprisingly, that fate has been ghastly."  
Now, I'm just a humble citizen living in a New Hampshire shire, but, excuse me, did I miss something?  Since when did America have the power to control the fate of Libya, or any nation engaged in a sectarian civil war? As if!

"It may seen astonishing that Obama, who so harshly condemned his predecessor's blunders in Iraq, would wind up repeating the gravest of those blunders in Libya--namely not being ready for the instability and insurgency that would follow."

Actually, it does not astonish me one bit.  Having seen the stupidity of sending American troops into a quagmire, President Obama decided to not repeat that mistake by sending troops into Libya. How could he or any President or any Western head of state have been "ready" to deal with the instability which followed?
Perhaps Mr. Jacoby would have had Mr. Obama supply Mr. Netanyahu with an aircraft carrier and a few American divisions to invade Libya?

"The lesson he takes away from the Iraq war was that the United States has no business intervening militarily in the Middle East--an that the greater the intervention, the greater the resulting fiasco. The facts haven't borne out that conclusion."

Uh, actually, I would have drawn that very conclusion myself, although I have no way of knowing if President Obama has drawn that conclusion. Perhaps Mr. Jacoby has sat around with a few beers and the President and he knows the President's mind, but I suspect Mr. Jacoby has simply been listening to too many talking heads on TV, most especially, Fox News.
Oh, we had Al Qaeda on the Ropes, but who are these guys?

Mr. Jacoby suggests we had AlQaeda "crippled, attacks were down 90 percent and Iraq was being governed by democratically elected politicians."  Well, now that is news, known only by Mr. Jacoby and perhaps a few Fox News analysts who had a direct line to Iraq.  From the distance of the East Coast of the United States, it looked to me as if AlQaeda was beside the point. AlQaeda goes down and some other band of crazies, e.g. the Islamic State,  pops up out of the Middle Eastern deserts like whack a moles.  And as for Iraq qualifying as  a thriving democracy--in what alternative universe does Mr. Jacoby spend most of his time?

Nor did Mr. Obama "heed warnings that the swift disappearance of tens of thousands of American peacekeepers would leave a catastrophic vacuum that the regions deadliest forces would rush to exploit."  Oh, those poor American soldiers with the targets painted on their backs were "peacekeepers?"  And how long would any American army be able to keep the peace?  Just as soon as they were withdrawn, everything was destined to collapse, don't you think?  So there we are with the John McCain insight--we have to keep American armies in the field over there for 100 years. Pax Americana.
Now this guy knew how to use military might

"Yet even now, Obama cannot see that a doctrine premised on avoiding American involvement in the world's conflicts is bound to fail."

Uh, actually, from the peep hole in New Hampshire, what looks bound to fail is sending boys and girls from New Hampshire and Iowa and California humping around the Arabian peninsula, trying to figure out those fractious people, and everyone with improvised explosive devices, grenade launchers and other implements of death, not to mention suicide belts.

This is the sort of blather which one would have thought has long since been dismissed.  Listening to Bernie Sanders during the last debate, one finally heard some fresh thinking:  We cannot simply do what we have always done in the Middle East. Whatever we've done has not worked.  And when we do decide to say something, we have to be Americans first, not Jews first, not Republicans or Democrats first, but citizens of these United States. And if it looks as if Israel over reacted in Gaza, we have to say that.  And if we think we know enough to say that Israel digging in more settlements in areas where Palestinians are apt to take offense, then we might at least be willing to ask, "Is this a good idea, if you are really trying to achieve peace?"

But the big question I have to ask is this:  The Globe has only so many printed pages. It gives the podium, the microphone and the spotlight to only a handful of people. Would you not think the powers that be at the Globe would want to pick somebody who is capable of thinking critically, of fresh insight, of new ideas?  Why put this latter day Archie Bunker on stage?  

No comments:

Post a Comment