The PJ Tatler

Peter Beinart is still an ill-informed, silly man

Last week, he compared Obama to Thomas Jefferson on the Libya intervention, never mindful of the fact that Jefferson went to war against the Barbary Pirates (aka Libya, basically) because the pirates were demanding tribute. Europe paid it; Jefferson didn’t want to. Jefferson was also very skeptical of government that was too powerful; Obama doesn’t seem to think such a government can exist. Obama doesn’t have a Jeffersonian bone in his body. Peter Beinart’s argument, which was written in the service of making the case that America doesn’t matter anymore and isn’t that grand, was equal parts ignorance and unseriousness.

Today, he’s arguing that the US shouldn’t even bother to be consistent in its foreign policy, that we should just launch humanitarian wars (nice phrase, that) when it’s logistically easy for us. Really, that’s pretty much his argument. And that’s why we’re intervening in Libya but not, say, Congo. But how about Syria, which is equally easy for us to hit in humanitarian war, from a logistical point of view? And, strategically more valuable for the US than Libya?

Beinart manages to get through an entire piece on the Middle East, promoting intervention in Libya, without ever mentioning Syria at all or why we’re not intervening there. If nothing else, he shows how easy it can be for a weak pundit to deal with facts that counter your arguments: Pretend they don’t exist.