The subtext of the Obama administration’s Middle East policies — evident in the president’s inaugural interview with al Arabiya, the so-called Cairo speech, the pressures on Israel, the constant trashing of George W. Bush, the reinvention of Islamic terror as workplace violence and man-caused disasters, the outreach to Iran, the outsourcing of responsibility to allies and enemies — is that America has questionable moral stature to help adjudicate anything in the region. To the degree we would exercise our prior influence, it would either be for self-interested purposes or be counterproductive due to our own unsophistication or ill-intentions. So we abdicated, and the predictable followed: one, the world as we know is unraveling, particularly in the Middle East; and, two, most suddenly want more, not less, U.S. engagement.

What explains these paradoxes? No doubt there are the usual suspects. First, the U.S. is privately recognized as a prosperous, free and dynamic society in the way most others nations are not.

Second, such assumptions cannot be publicly expressed for a variety of reasons, ranging from the power of envy, jealousy, and a sense of inferiority to an interest in hoping to guilt the stronger power into some sort of concession, both material and psychological.

Third, there is the assumed assurance for a Maliki, or Central American government, or Middle East autocrat that there are never consequences to anti-Americanism. Or better yet, as in the case of Obama himself, the elite world of the politician, journalist, academic, professional, or rich grandee accepts that anti-Americanism is fashionable, hip even, and that such cheap disdain otherwise should not prevent one from enjoying what America has to offer.

How weird the result: the anti-American Maliki pining for American arms from the escapist American president who lords his American power over others even as he ankles bites the very foundations of such power. Anti-American Latin American governments export their precious youth to the hated U.S., where its oppressive government will take care of them in a way the benevolent socialism at home did not, and the new arrivals will in time become hyphenated Americans with supposedly justified grievances against a largely racist and prejudicial society.

P.S. Decline of Western Civilization Addendum

Last week, I posted observations on a growing Central California phenomenon — drunk drivers, with lots of prior convictions, out on the road killing innocents, and our sick therapeutic culture’s reaction to this epidemic. This week yet another drunken driver, one Rien Ban, is charged with drunk driving and with killing four innocents outside of Fresno.

The details are once again monotonously the same: Mr. Ban had two prior DUIs. Or did he? I ask that because law enforcement never quite seems to know in these parts. The prosecutor alleges that Ban had three, not two as the records show, prior DUI convictions — a somewhat similar sort of confusion as in the case of Ms. Vazquez (described in my previous article), who seemed to have at least three convictions, but a weird fourth arrest (and release?) for going 120 mph while drunk.

We can deduce that the state of California (which seems to know all sorts of information about law-abiding citizens such as whether their Internet purchases are providing sufficient state sales taxes) does not care much about prior drunk driving offenses, since it can’t even seem to add them up.