Bill Murchison

Yes, yes, we're ending the war in Afghanistan. And what then? Write the whole place off, as the British, in a better day than this one, were able mostly to do? Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Mali (from how many American tongues does that latter name fall readily?): What about all these?

Israel. We get down to brass tacks here. Israel: Key American ally, bearing the norms and values of the much-maligned, much-hated West. What about Israel -- apart from "we've got its back" (as both presidential candidates have said)? Let us hope we have Israel's back and the Israelis ours. Yet what is the end game? Where is all this going?

The paltriness of the Obama presidency consists at least partly in dartings and flittings back and forth between crises in Syria, in Libya, in Iran, without signifying what the American interest might be in doing this or that. The ad hoc nature of Obamism abroad has seemingly more to do with thirst for the admiration of the Bush-haters, still a powerful fraternity, than with any sense of what it means to preside over a coherent foreign policy.

Here's what it means, or should: Us before anyone else-- us Americans. After that, our undoubted friends. The safety, the freedoms of the aforesaid matter most in this topsy-turvy world. If we long to hear our president say so, that might be because the experience would be so novel, so contrary to custom.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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