This has been bugging me all week, and while I respect Ed’s opinion on it, I don’t respect attempts to bowdlerize what The One actually said. Here’s the full quote, which Ed posted a few days ago:
“When conflicts break out, one way or another, we get pulled into them.” True enough, and I don’t always “like” that we’re pulled into them. For example, I don’t “like” the fact that we have 30,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea as cannon fodder in case the lunatic to the north ever attacks Seoul. But I accept it because I understand it’s an effective deterrent that saves millions of lives. I don’t “like” the fact that we’re forced to take the lead on Iran even though their military capabilities are more of an immediate threat to Europe and the Sunnis, but I accept it because the stick we wield is so much bigger than everyone else’s that we’re most likely to bring them to heel. I don’t “like” the fact that American troops have spent the past seven years dodging — and, sometimes, not dodging — IEDs in Iraq, but I accept it because I think having a democracy in the region will eventually put pressure on local autocrats to liberalize and held deflate jihadism. Disagree with my position on any or all of those if you like, but I don’t see how it’s controversial or demeaning to suggest that the world’s policeman, like any policeman, doesn’t always enjoy his job. In fact, less than six months ago, Pew found for the first time in 45 years that those who believe the U.S. should mind its own business abroad outnumber those who don’t. I think that isolationist impulse is nutty and a de facto invitation to malign powers to expand their influence, but then so does The One — which, I take it, is why he ordered the surge in Afghanistan, is going slow on withdrawal from Iraq, is stepping up drone attacks in Pakistan, and is keeping the troops in Korea and elsewhere in place. If we insist on playing “gotcha” with short soundbites that supposedly provide some insight into his thinking but aren’t even reflected in half of his policies, can we at least provide the full soundbite for context? Geez.
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