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“American leadership” is one of a prolonged list of vague, clearly soothing pseudo-concepts the media chuck around to clear increasing spending on soothing energy and military adventurism. It’s a formidable judgment to pin down, but it’s almost always presented as something the United States is “failing” to do when it doesn’t “engage” the universe with adequate war, sanctions or arbitrarily practical human rights scolding.
Lamenting a “lack of American leadership” is, therefore, a time-honored Serious Person cliche for those handling at major US papers, and one Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Jackson Diehl phoned in Sunday with his op-ed “Genocide, Famine and a Democratic Retreat—All After One Year of US Inaction” (1/21/17).
The piece began with a weird inversion of reality:
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but as the United States has retreated from general care in the past decade, several poisonous global trends have gained momentum. Democracy is usually retreating, according to Freedom House, whose annual study papers a decrease for the 12th uninterrupted year. Famine is melancholy some-more people than ever: Tens of millions are at risk of starvation in countries such as Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia.
It’s misleading accurately what “international leadership” is ostensible to meant here, besides being inversely correlated with Bad Things happening. The piece is a handbill against both former President Obama and Donald Trump for “steadily retreating,” but the many critical Bad Thing he cites as a outcome of a miss of American leadership, the fast in Yemen, is a approach outcome of “American leadership.” Obama and Trump have logistically and politically supported the Saudi-led bombing and besiege of Yemen that caused the famine.
But Diehl’s not overtly enchanting with the universe as it is; his pursuit is to allege the grounds that the US has both the right and the dignified avocation to foreordain the affairs of other countries. Diehl did the same asocial reality-inversion last Jun (FAIR.org, 6/26/17), when he not only abandoned the US’s role in formulating the Yemen famine, but embellished them as the heroes coming to the rescue.
Similarly, Diehl cites “the tragedy of Syria” in Sunday’s piece as a outcome of a miss of American leadership, but mentioning the American care of the CIA—along with American care allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar—helped fund, sight and arm groups in that conflict, so fueling the “tragedy.” Also wanting was the ongoing role of “American Leadership” in bombing 7 countries, its lethal drone program that has terrorized thousands of civilians in Yemen and Central Asia, its continued use of offshore penal colonies outside the range of general law and a series of other bad things that outcome from the active effort of “American leadership,” rather than its absence.
The rest of the piece is about the Trump administration’s “inaction” over racial clarification of the Rohingya in Burma, but the setup is very telling. Diehl uses this racial disaster to threaten the US for not doing enough, but really what he wants, as evidenced by his years of essay (see, e.g., FAIR.org, 5/2/06, 12/23/14, 5/17/16), is some-more nosiness and involvement and bombing in general; the tragedy in Burma simply serves as a dignified liniment for an avowal of the US’s superiority. To inhabitant confidence boosters like Diehl, “American leadership,” like military spending, is always in a state of inadequacy. There’s never enough, we always need more. The probability that pronounced “leadership” or military spending may be causing the problems—even the ones he himself cites as the many urgent—rather than being their solution is simply not an option.
Adam Johnson is a contributing researcher at FAIR and contributing author for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @AdamJohnsonNYC.