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What is Leon Wieseltier Talking About?

My old TNR colleague Leon Wieseltier has a weird column that judges Barack Obama insufficiently simple-minded, unwise and bloodthirsty. This, to Leon, is a bad thing.

The question of whether Barack Obama will make a fine commander-in chief finally depends on your view of the direction of history in the coming years. I cannot escape the foreboding that we are heading into an era of conflict, not an era of conciliation. I do not mean that there will be many wars, though I cannot imagine that the threat to American security from Al Qaeda and its many associates can be met without a massive and sustained military operation in western Pakistan, and I cannot imagine any Pakistani government ordering such an operation.

Was no one editing this piece to remind Leon of a certain controversy from August? In which Obama addressed precisely this point?

Obama said if elected in November 2008 he would be willing to attack inside Pakistan with or without approval from the Pakistani government, a move that would likely cause anxiety in the already troubled region.

"If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will," Obama said.

Ah, but such facts do not satisfy Leon.

Yes, he made a "muscular" speech in Chicago last spring; but I have been pondering his remarks about foreign policy in the ensuing campaign and I do not detect the hardness I seek, the disabused tone that the present world warrants. … My problem is that Obama’s declarations in matters of foreign policy and national security have a certain homeopathic quality. He seems averse to the hurtful, expensive, traditional, unedifying stuff.

"Seems," eh? No need for evidence here. No need to specify what rhetorical Viagra Leon wants Obama to swallow. Perhaps this sort of column is what Obama has in mind when he talks about ending the mindset that got us into Iraq. Indeed, when the other Democrats were attacking Obama for his willingness to go after al-Qaeda in Pakistan, here’s how he responded:

"I find it amusing," said Obama, "that those who helped to authorize and engineer the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation are now criticizing me for making sure that we are on the right battlefield and not the wrong battlefield in the war against terrorism."

Same goes for those who promoted and apologized for that disaster.

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