Leon Wieseltier writing at the New Republic on March 2:
As the dictators fall, the clichés fall, too. Cairo and Tunis and Tripoli are littered with the shards of platitudes about what is possible and what is impossible in Arab societies, in closed societies. Civilizational analysis lies in ruins. Idealism, always cheaply mocked, turns out to be a powerful form of historical causation, as disruptive of the established order as any economic or technological change, and even more beneficent. Stability, the false god of hard hearts, has been revealed to be temporary, chimerical, provisional, hollow, where the social arrangements are not decent or fair: the stability of injustice, though it may last a long time, is essentially unstable. It is delicious to see realists convicted of illusions, to hear them utter the words on which they used to choke. (If there is one thing that realists know how to do, it is pivot.)
The Arab uprisings have been heuristically useful: they have exposed a lack of intellectual preparation, a lack of historical imagination, a lack of moral aspiration, here at home. I count the president among the Americans who are sunk in stereotypes and dogmas, even if the good people at the White House want you to know that he is somehow a hero of this springtime. By now—after Tehran, Tunis, Cairo, and Tripoli—a presidential pattern has been established. Obama's reluctance to lead, and to establish the United States ringingly and incontrovertibly as the ally of the freedom movements, is owed to many things, but most of all, I think, it is the result of certain conventional assumptions about the historical agency of the United States in the developing world. In almost his every pronouncement about the valiant accomplishments of the liberalizing crowds in "the Arab street" (now an honorific!), Obama keeps insisting that we had nothing to do with this, that they did all this on their own, that Arab democracy must not be the work of the United States or any foreign power. He dreads the imputation of our influence. All his assurances of a new world notwithstanding, he is haunted by the ghost of imperialism.
Hat tip to the WSJ for that one.
The core belief system of the modern left - transnationalism, relativistic ethics, refusal to judge other countries yet permanently judge their own - is a intellectual fraud, a facade to hide the emptiness and meaninglessness of the academic. I studied in both the US and Germany and while there are those in academia who deserve accolades, respect and recognition, these are few and far between, More often you see those whose main claim to existence is the manipulation of the system, whose academic career, outside of endless faculty meetings where endless pontification replaces actual thought, is trivial at best and, in the greater scheme of things, irrelevant and a waste of human potential.
People with no actual knowledge of how the world actually works pontificate about imagined injustices and construct massive edifices with foundations of sand, based on fundamental mistakes and speculation replacing real knowledge.
Real scholarship is hard and has been replaced with sophistry.
Academia has failed us miserably, yet demands tens of thousands for the smallest of qualifications. What we have here is not a failure of the imagination, not an honest mistake or pardonable lapse. Rather, it is the willful denial, the conscious rejection of reality. Opinion is held to be more sacred than truth and facts.
The US today is without leadership. Political nature abhors such a vacuum.