Five months ago, Peggy Noonan was furious at President Obama because she believed he was trying to avoid his duty to take resolute action in Syria, in response to the use of chemical weapons:
... there is growing evidence that Mr. Assad is the first known leader to use chemical weapons since Saddam Hussein murdered his own people in the Kurdish city of Halabja in 1988. The Syrian attack violates red lines Mr. Obama personally laid down. And now the Administration will ... go to the U.N.?But then, about a month ago, the president began threatening an attack on Syria. Naturally, as soon as the president was for something like this, Noonan was against it:
... The Administration's U.N. gambit looks like one more way to avoid doing something it promised it would do if chemical weapons were used. Presidents who are exposed as bluffers tend to have their bluff called again and again, with ever more dangerous consequences.
The only strong response is not a military response.Well, now the administration is pursuing diplomacy. Just try to guess what Noonan is saying today:
... a military strike is not the way, and not the way for America.
Two senators spoke of their worry about what the Syria mess -- the threat, the climbdown, the lunge at a lifeline, the face-saving interviews -- signaled to the world about U.S. credibility. If an American president says there's a red line and the red line is crossed, there can be no question: America must act. No one said this but I think I correctly inferred a suggestion that the American people may not be willing right now to appreciate the fact that in a world full of bad guys the indispensable nation must show it is serious.Shockingly, whatever the administration isn't doing at any given time is what Noonan favors!
But Noonan has a bizarre explanation for why Americans and the international community didn't support a U.S. attack on Syria: according to Noonan, it's basically because America sucks.
... the world thinks we are a great military power. They know all about the missiles and tanks and satellites, they've seen our soldiers. They know our might. The world is no longer certain we are a great nation, which is a different problem.What she's saying about Americans is not that they oppose an attack on Syria because they think the government should focus on problems at home -- which is what a lot of Americans actually believe. No, what's she's saying is that Americans oppose an attack on Syria because contemporary America fills them with disgust.
... They know our unemployment problem -- it's not a secret. They take the train from New York to Washington and see the abandoned factories. They know about our budget problems, they know who holds our bonds. They read about the kids who are bored so they killed the visiting Australian baseball player, and the kids so bored they killed a World War II veteran. They read about the state legislator who became a hero because she tried to make sure babies can be aborted at nine months -- they see the fawning interviews. They go home with the story of the guy who spent his time watching violent videos and then, amazingly, acted out his visions of violence at the Washington Navy Yard. They notice our mass killings are no more than two-day stories.
And of course it isn't only "the world" that sees this -- Americans see it. And they are worried about their country. Deep down they, too, wonder if we are still a great nation or will be able to remain one. They think our economy is in a shambles and our government incapable, at the moment, of creating the conditions that will allow it to come back. They fear our culture is rotting our children's heads.
And so, asked to support a strike that could spark a response that could start a real war they say no....
This is the sort of blame-America-first talk that led to treason accusations during past shows of U.S. force. But that was when dirty hippie lefties were blaming America. This is Peggy Noonan, so it's all right.
Noonan talks about "our unemployment problem." Our current unemployment rate is 7.3%. I don't recall her ever saying that America was morally unfit to invade Grenada in October 1983, during the presidency of her boss Ronald Reagan, when unemployment was 10.4%. And she lists a number of murders that have taken place recently. I'd remind her that an American shot the president of the United States a couple of years before that president ordered the assault on Grenada.
There were nearly 15,000 murders in America last year -- but the number of murders in 1991 was 24,700. That was the worst year for murder in America in the past half-century. We were in the midst of a crack epidemic. And yet the U.S. invaded Iraq that year, on the orders of President George H.W. Bush. I don't recall Noonan saying we didn't have the moral fiber to start that war. (In fact, she called it "the President's great moment.")
And please keep in mind that Noonan is saying that the U.S. lacks the moral standing to attack a country that killed hundreds of children with poison gas, and far more with conventional weapons, while turning millions into refugees. She's not saying (at least not today) that violence is, by definition, the wrong response to violence, which would be a reasonable argument. She's saying that America, specifically, is too depraved to respond morally to Bashar al-Assad.
That's some serious America-hate.