The Enemy Has A Strategy

Do we?

Of course, the White House strategy seems to consist of apologizing to them, and pretending that they aren’t enemies, but just Facebook Friends we haven’t met yet. “Enemy” is a term reserved for American citizens who don’t agree that we should become a bankrupt European social democracy as soon as possible.

[Update a few minutes later]

“Amateur Hour at the State Department.” Thoughts from Claire Berlinski:

I recently interviewed Turkey’s former ambassador to the United States, Faruk Loğoğlu. He is appalled — like many in Turkey — by the soft-headedness of the Obama administration’s diplomacy in this region. He finds Obama’s speeches about his personal warmth toward Islam ludicrous and inappropriate. “Obama can’t play the religious game,” he said. “He should be playing the security game. His policy toward Turkey is a bad imitation of the worst parts of Orientalism.”

It’s not merely the ideological color of the Obama administration’s diplomacy that worries me, but its incompetence. I’ve lately been examining in very close detail the events that led to Turkey’s “No” vote on the Iran sanctions package in the UN. I’ll be writing about this elsewhere, and the details are too complicated to summarize here. But one thing leaps out: our incompetence. How could there have been any ambiguity — and obviously there was — in our communication with Turkey about our negotiating position on the nuclear-fuel-swap deal? How is it possible that Turkey was receiving critically different messages from the White House and the State Department on an issue as significant as the Iranian nuclear program, for God’s sake? It’s inconceivable, but on looking closely at the evidence, it is clear that this is just what happened.

When the State Department spokesman sends a completely inappropriate birthday message to to Ahmadinejad via Twitter, it is, likewise, a symptom of utter amateurism. Apologists for this incident have suggested to me that this wasn’t such a big deal; it was sarcastic, they say, and it wasn’t a diplomatic note or official communiqué. I am guessing that had that Tweet said, “Tomorrow we bomb Iran into rubble,” the same people would have thought it quite a big deal indeed.

Unfortunately, regardless of what happens today, it’s not a problem we can solve for another two years. And it won’t be solved by replacing the president with the current Secretary of State, though that would be a modest improvement.

How Do We Tell The Stupid From The Smart?

Some useful thoughts from Frank J.:

How smart do you have to be to tell if someone else is smart? Hopefully not very smart, because a lot of life — and especially politics — involves asking people to separate the bright from the dimwitted. We can’t figure out or do everything ourselves, so we need to know who the smart people are so we know whom to listen to and entrust with important jobs. But if we incorrectly think morons are smart and listen to them and put them in charge, that would be a disaster.

You could also call it election year 2008.

For some reason, many people thought certain other people — who we can now clearly see are idiots — were smart and should be in charge. So how do we prevent such an error from happening again?

Actually, it was clear to some of us at the time.

Smart people, really smart people, understand the limitations of their knowledge. The tragedy of stupid is that it renders one incapable of recognizing how little they know. One of the endearing features of Forrest Gump was that he understood his limitations. One of the most appalling features of Joe Biden is that he really thinks that he’s the smartest guy in the room (as he told one congressional witness) when it is clear that he is an idiot.

You know how I know that someone is a few ears short of a bushel in the smarts department? When they brag about their IQ. And tell us all how smart they are. To paraphrase Forrest, smart is as smart does. And fortunately, a lot of “smart” people are going to have to go out and get a real job in January, if the voters do what the polls say they will.

Kind of tough being out of work in this economy, though. Particularly when you’re not as smart as you thought you were.

[Update a couple minutes later]

OK, I posted the link and wrote the above before I Read The Whole Thing. So I wasn’t really plagiarizing Frank on the “smart is as smart does” thing (seriously, how dumb would one have to be to plagiarize from a linked article?). It’s just that great (or, errrr…some kind of) minds think alike.

[Late afternoon update]

This discussion (and Ken Anthony’s comment) reminds me of an interesting question that I read once from a conservative (probably over at The Corner). If you had to make a choice (and not to imply that it must be one), which would you rather — that your child be good, or smart? This was a, if not the, major theme of Forrest Gump. It’s also one of the reasons that people who criticized Sarah Palin for not aborting her son are so off base. I have little personal experience, but I’ve heard that sufferers from Down’s Syndrome are generally very nice people. Again, though, not to imply that there is an implicit choice.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!