Obama the Tudor

     As head of state, Barack Obama is a ditherer.
     So was Queen Elizabeth I.
     This is not a joke, nor an insult to President Obama.
     Elizabeth drove her Council of State to distraction by her dithering, by her second third fourth and fifth thoughts, by her refusal to act, even in the face of threats, and more than threats, from France, from Spain and from the Pope.
     She dithered even in the face of the Spanish Armada.
     But things turned out all right for England.
     And people look kindly these days upon Elizabeth.
     When history is on your side – and by history, I mean reality, and all the nebulous, gigantic, imaginary yet real forces that create and constitute it – when history is on your side, there is nothing wrong with dithering.
     These are momentous times for North Africa and the Middle East, for the people we call Arabs, and for the Muslim world.
     Dictatorships are conservative.
     They seek stasis.
     They impose it.
     They always have and they always will – around the world, and in our country too.
     Popular unrest – the voices of the voiceless, the excluded, the tortured, of women – has remade the Muslim world more rapidly in the past five weeks than anything else has remade it since the discovery of oil there a century ago.
     Unless I miss my guess – unless it’s already happened – Muammar Khadafy will leave Libya feet first. And his feet may not be connected to the rest of him.
     Khadafy will go out the same way Mussolini went out – hanging from a lamppost.
     And that’s good – so far as things like that can be good.
     Aside from protecting our own citizens, which we already have done, there is no reason for the United States to intervene in this.
     The best thing we can do in a case like this is to cheer from the sidelines.
     To do anything else would be to rob the long-suffering Libyan people of their dignity.
     We don’t want to do that, any more than we want to do that to the people of Egypt, or Tunisia, or Bahrain, or (fill in the blank.)
     We intervened in Iraq, and what good did it do us?
     We intervened in Afghanistan, and what good did it do us?
     We intervened in Iran and Vietnam and Guatemala and El Salvador, and what good did it do us?
     What good did it do to the people of Vietnam, or Guatemala, or El Salvador, or Iran?
     So I approve of President Obama’s dithering – of his politic words and his inaction.
     I do not approve of President Obama’s inaction at home, of his groveling to money and to the forces of reaction in the United States.
     But I approve of his doing it overseas.
     Because – dig this – the people of the Muslim world today appear to be braver, and more progressive, than the people of the United States.
     They appear to be braver and more progressive, and have suffered more, and have faced down far more serious threats, even to their lives, than the so-called Christians who demand, louder and louder every day, to be given the reins of power in the United States.
     So I say “Bravo!” to President Obama for dithering.
     There is no need for our country to fight the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.
     If one-quarter of the world’s population ties its own hands by prohibiting their women from becoming literate, there is no need for us to fight them.
     They will defeat themselves.
     But there is no indication that the revolutions remaking the Muslim world will do that.
     There is every indication that they will cut the chains, not bind them tighter.
     So we should get out of their way, cheer them from the sidelines, then offer them help – when and if they ask for it.

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