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The NeoCon Shrug

from Andrew Sullivan:

There's a telling moment in the YouTube you posted of Norman Podhoretz speaking about the need to bomb Iran.

About halfway in he's asked what the correct British response should have been to the kidnapping of their sailors. Podhoretz responds that "they should have threatened to bomb the Iranians to smithereens." This comment in itself is unremarkable. Pretty much par for the course for Podhoretz these days. It's what follows that's illuminating.

He follows up his original comment with the caveat, "Whether they would have had to carry out threat, I doubt. Maybe they would have." He accompanies this last sentence with the most minimal of shrugs. And the shrug tells you everything you need to know about the current state of neo-conservativism.

The shrug, an incredibly casual gesture, suggests that in the end, such indelicacies as bombing a country "to smithereens," don't really matter.

A nation is really in trouble when it's international relations are reduced to little more than an endless sequence of threats which are so commonplace they just elicit a shrug from the speaker. What's even worse is that it's hard to tell when those threats are just done for the benefit of their domestic political status and when they should be taken seriously. That's why Teddy Roosevelt made the admonition to "speak softly" along with carrying the big stick.


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