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Woodrow Wilson Obama

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Thus far, we know what the Obama administration won't do in response to the obvious decay of U.S. standing in the Middle East. It won't stop deploring the video for which it originally blamed attacks on our diplomatic facilities in the region, worsened by the murders of our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. It won't schedule a meeting this week between Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu and the president, who seems to need more time on the campaign trail. And so on.

What the administration (SET ITAL) will (END ITAL) do to make its attitudes and responses feared throughout the region isn't likely to take up much space in public communications inasmuch as the administration seems generally bent on the projection of softness -- softness of manner and of tongue; softness, if truth be told, of the brain cells.

Nobody, I hope, would argue that simple solutions to the Mideast/Muslim conundrum are out-there-to-be-grasped-so-why-don't-we-do-it? The matter is less strategic than, shall we say, visual. Rear views of the American eagle winging its way back to North American nesting places -- such views as the world sees almost daily -- do not make America's haters wave bye-bye. They give America's haters untold joy and satisfaction, and the opportunity to rip off some tail feathers.

What else would you expect -- if, say, you didn't work for President Obama or Mrs. Clinton, his secretary of whatever it is she thinks advances U. S. interests?

About the only good to come of the hate-America frolics in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere is the recognition that Machiavelli, who appears to have known more about statecraft than President Obama has thus far picked up, had something urgent to tell us. Machiavelli memorably instructed the world of the Renaissance and all the worlds that followed that a country both loved and feared is best off, but, failing that, it's better just to be feared. At least, then, others may leave you alone: the way the hate-America crowd declines to leave America alone.

To say that the U.S., prior to Obama's advent, was the holy terror of the world would be ludicrous. Post-World War II America had plenty of moments of sappy benevolence, meant to coax friendship out of foes. Obama didn't invent the delusion that you can woo your enemies with flowers and chocolates; he merely undertook to brandish his nosegays at a moment of great civilizational peril. Had he never heard of Machiavelli, or read about Churchill for that matter (whose bust he hustled out of the White House upon moving in)?

One of the many crucial truths about Obama, withheld by the media in 2008, was that he had no experience whatsoever in foreign affairs. He won the Nobel Peace Prize on aspirations, summed up in his June 4, 2009 speech to the Muslim world, wherein he urged a "sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground." Yes, common ground -- ideal for planting improvised explosive devices.

If the U.S. of 2012 was known for insisting on good behavior in areas where American interests are at stake -- Libya and Egypt are among those areas -- would Ambassador Christopher Stevens have died? Let it merely be suggested that the likelihood of his death might have been lessened considerably.

As for Iran -- well, what? Might the consequences of not-so-secretly preparing nuclear weapons have been made a bit tougher? We'll never know, though by now we should know one thing: humiliating an ally, Israel, on account of its tendency to follow Machiavelli's advice, signals something other than an intent to crack down on perpetrators against American interests.

Doubtless we'd all be better off had Woodrow Wilson never launched his project of making the world "safe for democracy." On the other hand, he did launch it, and here we are. What are we going to do now? According to Wilson's present successor, Mr. Obama, we're not likely to do a whole lot apart from furthering Wilson's own specialty -- the delivery of speeches.

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