Finally, an American president willing to take a stand for an Iranian political movement…and other thoughts…
- By David RothkopfDavid Rothkopf is visiting professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His latest book is The Great Questions of Tomorrow. He has been a longtime contributor to Foreign Policy and was CEO and editor of the FP Group from 2012 to May 2017.
After all the flying I’ve been doing the past couple weeks, I was genuinely sorry to hear today’s story of the Continental Airlines pilot who died while flying back from Belgium.
While resisting the tasteless temptation to observe that dying after having visited Belgium strikes me as needlessly repetitive, I have to say the story hit home because on my flight last night back from Latin America I was actually surprised that the “cabin service director” did not herself expire mid-flight. This woman was so old that at one point during the flight I thought I could actually hear her osteoporosis. While I admire her for setting such a good example for other senior citizens by continuing to work, I do feel that her insistence on wearing a leather flying helmet and a jaunty scarf she held on to from her days in the Lafayette Escadrille was a bit unnerving to the other passengers. It wasn’t too unnerving however, because we hardly saw her. Being that this was a flight on a U.S. carrier from Latin America, she did not actually feel compelled to speak to a single passenger during the flight (I don’t think I’m exaggerating here). She just sat up front and every so often would make an announcement that was so unintelligible that it made Jimmy Carter’s mumblings the other day on behalf of Hamas seem coherent.
Speaking of that other octogenarian, you couldn’t help but be struck by two things while watching Carter offer the weight of the office bestowed upon him by the American people to lend support to the Hezbollah-backed group of allegedly reforming terrorists. (You can imagine the 12 step program Hamas is running to keep its guys “political”: “Hi, I am Khaled and I am a terrorist. I have not launched a missile at a nursery school in 17 weeks.”)
The first was: “Aha! Here is an American president who is not afraid to stand up for an Iranian political movement.”
The second was that for once I wish Walt and Mearsheimer were right, and that taking a stand that was anathema to the Israel Lobby really did mean the end of a political career in the United States, because Jimmy is well past his sell-by date. (For more on this last point, see Jeffrey Goldberg’s observations on “The Taboo That Won’t Shut Up.”)
Carter’s signature message was “Never before in history has a large community been savaged by bombs and missiles and then deprived of the means to repair itself.” The view is so typically one-sided in its selective recollection of history — he neglects to note who, for example, fired the first 10,000 or so missiles in the recent confrontation — that it would make Carter the Flat Stanley of U.S. politics were it not for the fact that Flat Stanley actually had two dimensions. (And I say this as someone who believes that the international community and the Israelis owe it to the Palestinians to help them heal and to find a sustainable solution that offers both them and their neighbors dignity, security, and a chance at prosperity.)
Finally, as a parent, I found myself misting up a bit at Chastity Bono’s recent reappearance in the news. (Since her father ended up being a Congressman, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to discuss her in this blog. Chastity is a Washington insider once-removed. Although frankly as a lesbian child of celebrities, she probably makes it as a Washington insider entirely on her own what with this being a Democratic administration and all.) In any event, given the fame of her parents, you can’t help but feel for poor Chaz, wondering how she was going to make a name for herself. Yet, here she has done it. With her decision to have a sex-change operation, she boldly went into the one area of plastic surgery her iconic mother never considered. (Which is saying something, as the only thing left about Cher that is authentic is the signature on her monthly retainer checks to the plastic surgeon she keeps on call.)
And the international affairs insight in the Chastity Bono story? (Besides the fact that post-surgery she will be the only other person still using the same first name as one-time National Intelligence Council nominee Chas Freeman.) Well, presumably if she could find someone who would sew a pair on her perhaps we might look into a way to do the same for our current foreign policy.
Irresistible sexist jokes aside, I am pretty sure our current problem is not so much the amount of testosterone in our system — the feminist in me actually thinks you can never have too little — as it is the vaguely masochistic impulse to effectively respond to every threat or provocation with an Oliver Twist-like, “Please, sir, may I have some more?”
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