American ‘Freedom Man’ is Made of Straw

Andrew J. Bacevich in The American Conservative:

Is a penchant for moral posturing part of a newspaper columnist’s job description? Sometimes it seems so. But if there were a prize for self-indulgent journalistic garment renting, Bret Stephens of The New York Times would certainly retire the trophy. 

To introduce a recent reflection on “the global lesson from the regional catastrophe that is Donald Trump’s retreat in Syria,” Stephens begins with a warm-and-fuzzy parable. “The time is the early 1980s,” he writes.

The place is the South China Sea. A sailor aboard the U.S.S. Midway, an aircraft carrier, spots a leaky boat jammed with people fleeing tyranny in Indochina. As he helps bring the desperate refugees to safety, one of them calls out: “Hello, American sailor — Hello, Freedom Man.”

Today, alas, Freedom Man has become “a fair-weather friend,” according to Stephens. Thanks to President Trump, America can no longer be trusted. And “the idealism that stormed Normandy, fed Europe, democratized Japan, and kept West Berlin free belongs to an increasingly remote past.”

How I wish that this litany of good deeds accurately summarized U.S. history in the decades since American idealism charged ashore at Omaha Beach. But wishing won’t make it so—unless, perhaps, you make your living as a newspaper columnist.

More here.