What is the best way to embolden a bully -- or to incite a sullen mob to mayhem? If the bully has pelted you with rocks, you wipe the blood from your face and respond with ingratiating gestures. If a gang of bullies with rocket-propelled grenades and other sophisticated weaponry has murdered one of your ambassadors and dragged his body through the streets, you repeat the same mistake in the diplomatic arena.
We now see how this approach is working in the Middle East.
Correction: Some of us see it, but many more -- perhaps even a clear majority of adult Americans --resolutely refuse to see it.
The smiling, self-assured Barack Obama who appeared on the Letterman show last Tuesday night plainly did not see anything to be alarmed about in what is happening in the Middle East, or anywhere else for that matter -- with the possible exception on the ongoing "war on women" (meaning the American version thereof, not the Muslim or Middle Eastern variant, which includes stoning, virtual enslavement, and other real-world atrocities).
Exactly one week after the Sept. 11th storming of the American embassy in Cairo and the terrorist assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Obama did not appear to have a care in the world. Following the show he headed off for a fundraiser with Jay Z. and Beyoncé.
It is not as though the seven days between Sept. 11 and Sept. 18 had passed quietly. To the contrary, 20 U.S. embassies across the region had come under siege, with rioters ransacking and burning banks, shops, cinemas, and U.S. fast-food restaurants such as KFC and Pizza Hut.
On Thursday (Sept. 20), the administration announced that it was paying for advertisements to run on Pakistani television featuring video clips of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as they both condemned and pinned a great deal of the blame for the attacks on U.S. personnel and property in the Middle East on a 14-minute video mocking the Prophet Mohammed which had been made months ago by some obscure person in California. Several days earlier, the administration unsuccessfully sought to have Google remove the video from further airing on YouTube.
Regardless of the ads -- or stirred on by them -- tens of thousands of anti-American protestors took to the streets in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar, setting fire to cars and movie theaters, and battling with police who responded with tear gas and gunfire. At the end of the day, Clinton thanked the Pakistani government for defending U.S. missions in the country and she lamented the deaths of 45 people in the riots, including 17 policemen.
Unlike Iran, Pakistan is not a nuclear wannabe. According to estimates by nongovernment analysts, it already has more than 100 deployed nuclear weapons, and it is continuing to build its nuclear arsenal. Who is to say some of Pakistan's nuclear weapons won't fall into the hands of terrorists sometime soon -- after another coup, perhaps? Maybe Iran won't even have to go to the trouble of building its own bombs in order to make good on its promise to destroy Israel in a nuclear holocaust.
But hey, why worry?
In skimming through the Letterman show a second time this weekend on YouTube, I could not find anything more than a fleeting mention of the Middle East. The Late Night comic did not have to furrow his bushy brow even once in pondering events in Pakistan, Libya, or Egypt.
Clearly, that is something that many people don't want to think about.
Just as clearly, many of the same people -- who will be voting for Barack Obama on Nov. 6 -- don't want to spend any time thinking about the economic follies of the current administration: the trillion dollars that were wasted on the de-stimulating "stimulus" bill, the insane march to the enactment of the hated and perversely named Affordable Care Act, and our continuing descent into greater and greater indebtedness that will ultimately end in national insolvency (i.e., a Greek-like inability to go on borrowing the money needed to meet current expenditures).
Here again, Obama demonstrated his cool and nonchalance on Letterman. Asked by the "ass-kissing" comic (Ben Stein's apt description) to say what the national debt now was, Obama had the audacity to answer that he really didn't know (most readers of this publication don't have to be told: It's $16 trillion and counting, or more than $50,00 per capita).
In thinking about how many people in this country seem to have adjusted their political thinking to tune out unpleasant realities, I am reminded of the childhood game of rock-scissors-paper.
The rock of course is represented by the clenched fist -- which makes it the perfect symbol of unpleasant realities such as the growing threat of a nuclear meltdown in the Middle East . . . or an economic meltdown inside our own borders.
Paper is represented by a smooth hand and it is able to beat rock -- at least for the present -- by covering over it.
And then there is scissors -- which is capable of cutting through paper but which in turn is vulnerable to rock.
The trouble now is: In throwing down their hands and making a choice, it seems that too many people are opting for paper and rejecting the scissors. If so, the clenched fist is bound to win in the end.
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