John McCain, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg which predated the North Korean nuclear test, sounds the following warning:
I really believe that reality is going to strike with this (Administration). I don’t think you’re going to get progress by quote-unquote talking to the Iranians. I don’t think you’re going to get the progress they think they’re going to get with some of these countries, with North Korea.
What has North Korea done since Obama came to office? And we were going to have a new dialogue with them. God Almighty! You know? Two journalists are now in prison. They announced they’re reprocessing, proceeding with the fissile material. They were threatening or did shut down that town that the South Koreans funded for them. I mean, I think reality’s going to hit the Obama Administration.
Well, reality it hitting right and left, but what the Obama team makes of it remains to be seen. Are we just not trying hard enough? Maybe our diplomacy needs to be a wee bit “smarter.” The yearning for comity and calm is great and understandable. But it may be at odds with the world in which we find ourselves.
Lost in the shuffle of the Supreme Court nomination was yesterday’s Eugene Robinson column which perfectly exemplifies the naive longing for some other reality than the one we face. Robinson writes:
In Obama World, it’s always morning. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the pollen count is low. In Cheney World, it’s perpetual twilight. Somewhere in the distance, a lone wolf howls at the rising moon.
Gosh, don’t ya want the bird to chirp? Well, as much as the next person. But much as Robinson and others might want it to be so, we don’t live in “Obama World.” (By the way it isn’t a lone wolf — there are a bunch of them out there.) Iran doesn’t yearn for peace with Israel; North Korea doesn’t strive to make the “most improved” human rights list. Syria really isn’t making moves to separate itself from Iran. It’s a drag but in our world there are some dangerous characters who don’t respond to empty gestures of goodwill. They simply aren’t impressed when the American president touts his childhood experiences and denigrates his predecessors’ assertions of American interests.
At times the president seems to recognize some hard realities — in Iraq and in Afghanistan for example. But he too often falls back on pablum — “engaging the Islamic Republic of Iran” and insisting on moving ahead on a nonexistent peace process — which is scarily divorced from factual data and requires we ignore or excuse the behavior of our foes. And when he, for example, trims our missile defense programs one has to wonder if he really is in his own world.
Maybe McCain is right and reality is going to hit the Obama administration. The question remains: will the Obama administration notice?