SISU points to Victor Davis Hanson’s article here concerning how talk is nice but it can’t compete with the reality of action:
So it is with foreign policy as well. Obama’s make-over will have positive short-term effects, as he reminds the world ad nauseam that he is black, sorta, kinda from a Muslim family, and the son of an African who is more like the world than he like most Americans-and not George Bush and not a thieving capitalist and not a warmongering imperialist and not (fill in the blanks). (My favorite Cairo line was the apology on Gitmo where inmates have laptops and Mediterranean food, spoken to millions whose societies kill and maim tens of thousands in Gulags on a yearly basis.)
But in the long run?
He hits against human nature. Most of you readers-in business, law, the professions-don’t continually praise your friends, competitors, and enemies (e.g., “Glad you got that job, Home Depot-we at Lowes didn’t really need it; what a wonderful bid you submitted, Hilton, much better than ours here at the Four Seasons; it was my fault here at Goldman Sachs that I didn’t match your better offer at Credit Suisse; I grew up working for the Royals, and can empathize why you Yankees don’t like us; it’s time we at Citibank apologized to Chase for our past cutthroat competition; we are just too arrogant over here at Delta and wanted to let you guys at United know that.”)
The world sadly does not work that way. If one were to do that, we know the outcome: a group of rival execs would say “Hmmm, time to steal market share from Citibank, or Hilton isn’t really up to the arena anymore, let’s move in on its Western region, etc.”
Only someone who has not been in the real world, but only marketed rhetoric without consequences (e.g., if Obama had a bad day organizing, or legislating, was he fired?) could believe such things.
Like the farmer in the story all the talk in the world didn’t mean a thing but the reality of action made all the difference. Eventually both economically and militarily reality will set in. Our foes and competitors were always wary of President Bush, particularly after Iraq. They never quite knew what he would do. However they see president Obama and have a pretty good idea what they can get away with.
Reading both articles I can’t help but think of my father and this story… He was in a boundary dispute with a neighbor over a 80 year old bound. My father being a take action kind of guy put up a fence reflecting the boundary and made it a point to have the fence facing “backward” so it appeared that the fence had been put up by the other party of the dispute.
When the other party of the dispute came fuming at him bearing a camera to record him mendacity in taking “his land” my father called my brother who was hauling rocks over and posed with him for the picture asking for a print of the nice picture of his son working with him.
When the fellow called the city and a fellow came over he saw the fence he saw my father they chatted a while and by the time he left the fence and boundary was a fait accompli which stands to this day.
What the other party didn’t know but my father did since was the neighbor on the other side of the wooded lot had decades earlier extend his garden by clearing a few feet starting from the back away from the road and gradually bringing it to the roadline. Since the garden had always been the bound the the and the lot was empty the extension passed without notice to most. My grandfather noted this at the time but he was an old Sicilian; it wasn’t his land and wasn’t his business.
It has been decades since then. The other properties have changed hands several times. A very nice house sits with pretty landscaping sits on that formally empty lot, on the other side the garden is gone and a second story was added to the old house. I don’t know if their bound between them was ever corrected but the fence and the rocks my father put in 30 years ago are still there and my sister lives in that house sleeping in the room our mother was born in.
My father never finished grade school, my grandfather never went to school, but I think I’d feel a whole lot better about the next 3 1/2 years if either of them was in charge or at least at his side.