Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Obama’s Virtual Reality

Anne Applebaum is onto something with her thoughts on reset diplomacy:

Sooner or later, however, Barack Obama will also have to make hard decisions about regimes that oppose U.S. policy for reasons deeper than dislike of George W. Bush.

[. . .]

I do realize that these are early days. The traditional, deadly struggle between the State Department and the National Security Council for influence is only just getting underway, and the president has other things on his mind. But the gift of a “reset button,” however translated, was a not a good beginning. If this administration thinks it can transform America’s relationships with Russia or anyone else with the flick of a switch and a change of rhetoric, it is living in a virtual reality, not a real one.

There’s a lot of virtual reality with this bunch. Daily stock market plunges don’t constitute real money losses, just opinion readings. Cooler temperatures aren’t signs of cooler climates, just noise in the system. Success in Iraq is an epiphenomenal condition with no connection to a supposedly unwinnable war. This pervasive detachment from reality goes a long way in explaining the administration’s ability to smile, joke, and make small talk while things nosedive.