...ask yourself which presidential candidate an Ahmadinejad, Assad or Kim would fear the most. I submit it is not Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or Mike Huckabee. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, the leading candidate to scare the snot out of our enemies is a certain former aviator who has been noted for his pugnacity and his unwavering support of the American war effort in Iraq.Kevin Drum responds thusly,
And, elsewhere, Ezra Klein says this,
There you have it. If you think the most important aspect of a president is the ability to "scare the snot out of our enemies," then McCain's your guy.
Now, you might think that after seven years of trying exactly this, with only the current collapse in our fortunes to show for it, the neocon establishment might at least pause for a moment to wonder if there's more to foreign policy than scaring the snot out of our enemies. But no. The real problem, apparently, is simply that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld administration wasn't good enough at it. Not bellicose enough. Not unilateral enough. Not warlike enough. What America needs is someone even more bloodthirsty than the crew that got us into this mess. Time to double down, folks.
Unlike Spencer, I think Leon Wieseltier is exactly right to worry that Obama's signals on foreign policy do not convey "the hardness I seek, the disabused tone that the present world warrants. ... [Obama] seems averse to the hurtful, expensive, traditional, unedifying stuff." When Obama talks about changing "the mindset" that led us into the Iraq War, he's talking, almost specifically, about Leon Wieseltier's mindset; the belief that "hardness" is analogous to wisdom, that seriousness requires being "disabused" of one's instinctual aversion to brutality, that the "hurtful' and "traditional" stuff has worked. "One of the striking features of Obama's victory speeches," writes Leon, "is the absence from these exultations of any lasting allusion to the darker dimensions of our strategic predicament. He makes no applause line out of American defense." Leon wants a leader to brings crowds to their feet with talk of war. His skepticism of the Obama campaign on these grounds is among the most powerful arguments I've yet heard for Obama's candidacy.There's our game developing for the general election, at least regarding the war (continuing for now with the assumption that Obama has the nomination locked up). If that's how it remains, it's not much of a contest. And it especially won't be when the "surge" winds down.