You know the saying, “Out of the mouths of babes”? David Ignatius’ Friday Washington Post column shows that “Out of the mouths of pundits” might also belong in our lexicon. The big difference is that the former suggests that many problems that look forbiddingly complex can be solved by examining them without the preconceived notions and other intellectual baggage built up by adults. The latter would suggest that, at least now and then, truths that have long been screamingly obvious to anyone with a lick of common sense, but that clash with the conventional wisdom, get recognized by columnists and other political and policy class types who usually defend this wisdom with a vengeance.
As I’ve written, Ignatius was born into this establishment and has faithfully disseminated and championed its view his entire career. So imagine my surprise to read his Friday article – which not only in detail strongly echoed my view that the Middle East these days has become an utterly hopeless mess, but at least referenced the policy conclusion that I’ve been pushing: that since outsiders can’t prevent the the region’s multiple disasters from unfolding, they need to focus on “protecting themselves from collateral damage.”
To be sure, Ignatius still seems to believe that something viable can be created in the Middle East – but not for years and even perhaps (as I consider likelier in my most optimistic moments) decades. The next logical step for Ignatius and the rest of America’s elites is supporting the specific measures needed to shield the nation from the main Middle East dangers it faces – major disruptions to global energy supplies and September 11-like terrorist attacks. (In my opinion, U.S. nuclear forces are a much more than adequate deterrent against any nuclear weapons and delivery systems developed by Iran.)
But don’t expect him or his colleagues to be vigorously pressing for ramped up efforts to develop the fullest range of alternatives to Middle East oil, much less for genuinely securing U.S. borders (along with pounding ISIS by air and with special forces until these goals are achieved). If Rome took more than a day to build, think of the obstacles to shibboleths that have fed elitist egos and preserved their privilege – at the expense of national security and prosperity – for generations.