The original was a 1963 comedy with a cast of thousands, among them Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Jonathan Winters.
The 2015 version is a terrifying blend of horror and tragedy set in a dozen countries, all of them in various stages of chaos. Syria, Libya, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other nations are reeling and under attack by ISIS and its affiliates.
Despite the carnage, this week President Obama actually used a sacred military holiday as an occasion to tout his foreign policy success, issuing this proclamation: “Today is the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war.”
True enough. But this was also the first Memorial Day that ISIS was beheading people in Ramadi, a city fought for and won by American troops. Mr. Obama lost Ramadi, just as he has lost large swaths of Iraq, through his determination to abandon that nation, thus leaving behind millions of vulnerable people.
As you know, President Obama recently warned our troops about that dastardly threat known as “climate change.” Not to be outdone in the department of absurdity, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi now says we must confront ISIS on “the front of social media.” She offered that wisdom from her usual perch in Oz just as ISIS was burning human beings alive.
The madness extends beyond Iraq and Syria. Yemen, once touted by our triumphalist-in-chief as a success, has no functioning government. Neither does Libya after Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton helped oust the dictator Qadafi. He was a bad hombre, no question, as was Saddam Hussein. But Presidents Bush and Obama were both caught by surprise when they ousted tyrants and created vacuums that were quickly filled by bloodthirsty terrorists.
President Obama vowed to confront and “downgrade” ISIS, but that has obviously not happened. Islamic State, like some voracious conglomerate, is branching off into new countries, including Afghanistan. This is not a JV squad, but more like LeBron’s Cavs and Steph’s Warriors.
So now the Obama administration has just one hope of salvaging a Middle East victory, and that would be to reach a deal with Iran on nukes. But that is a bargain on which Faust himself might take a pass.
Iran’s “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei just called the United States “a major enemy to human rights.” The always-charming Khamenei describes Israel as “barbaric, wolflike, and infanticidal.” This Holocaust-doubter has declared that there is only one cure for the cancer of Israel: total annihilation. It is not a stretch to theorize that Khamenei surveys the region and sees just one final solution.
This is the regime we are dealing with. Not so much “dealing,” but cajoling, coaxing, wheedling, begging. The United States of America is desperate to strike a bargain with a country that has long supported some of the world’s most heinous terrorist organizations.
If all the world’s a stage, the very worst actors are right now front and center. Iran, China, Putin’s Russia, and of course ISIS are hogging the spotlight.
The question is, how did we get to this terribly ominous place? And the answer seems evident: the people of the United States elected, not once but twice, a man who disdains American power.
President Obama’s security advisers know the score. The Director of National Intelligence admits that global threats are the worst in a half century. Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta writes that Barack Obama “avoids the battle, complains, and misses opportunities.”
The president has frequently lamented that he inherited a mess, which is absolutely true. Unfortunately, his fecklessness and lack of leadership have made that situation far messier. This is not the change we were so frequently and so forcefully promised.
So let’s look ahead. Inauguration Day of 2017 falls on a Friday. After a long weekend of lavish parties and balls and dinners, the new commander-in-chief will begin the process of trying to make the world just a little less mad than it is right now. It is about as daunting a challenge as that faced by any president in the history of this exceptional nation. He or she will need every hope, every prayer we can muster.