Sakset/Fra hofta

Eliot Cohen, rådgiver i det amerikanske utenriksdepartement 2007-2008, har en kommentar om Obamas innerste krets i the Wall Street Journal  som bør leses av mange. Diagnosen: tenåringer, gjelder også i tiltagende grad norsk politikk. Voksne er mangelvare.

Tenåringer krever å bli vurdert ut fra hensikter og ikke resultater. De blir sure hvis de blir kritisert. Når ledelsen for verdens supermakt viser slike tendenser, begynner det å bli alvorlig.

Often, members of the Obama administration speak and, worse, think and act, like a bunch of teenagers. When officials roll their eyes at Vladimir Putin‘s seizure of Crimea with the line that this is «19th-century behavior,» the tone is not that different from a disdainful remark about a hairstyle being «so 1980s.» When administration members find themselves judged not on utopian aspirations or the purity of their motives—from offering «hope and change» to stopping global warming—but on their actual accomplishments, they turn sulky. As teenagers will, they throw a few taunts (the president last month said the GOP was offering economic policies that amount to a «stinkburger» or a «meanwich») and stomp off, refusing to exchange a civil word with those of opposing views.

Obamas cool-guy image har vært synlig lenge. Det er mye stil og lite substans.

Obama-gjengen anser seg selv for suveren. Den forveksler status med innflytelse og makt. Dens selvforføring og narsissisme har åpnet døren for Vladimir Putin.  Reaksjonen fra Det hvite hus har vært nedlatende og belærende. Putin må forstå at han ikke er cool hvis han bruker bøller og vold.

Det er slik tenåringer tenker og oppfører seg, skriver Eliot.

In a searing memoir published in January, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes with disdain the trash talk about the Bush administration that characterized meetings in the Obama White House. Like self-obsessed teenagers, the staffers and their superiors seemed to forget that there were other people in the room who might take offense, or merely see the world differently. Teenagers expect to be judged by intentions and promise instead of by accomplishment, and their style can be encouraged by irresponsible adults (see: the Nobel Prize committee) who give awards for perkiness and promise rather than achievement.

Sosiale medier har gitt tenåringer en følelse av at verden er slik som på twitter og facebook. Det har gitt dem en can-do følelse. Når noen bryter med denne mentaliteten, forsøker Obama å snakke Putin til rette: Det er bare en måte å være på. Cool. Laidback.

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Bildet: Selfie-lederne: Fra venstre David Cameron, Helle Thorning Schmidt, Barack Obama og Michelle Obama ved minnemarkeringen for Nelson Mandela i desember 2013.

Den evige tenåring  har inntatt Det hvite hus, og gjort tenårene til en permanent tilstand. Det gjelder over store deler av den vestlige verden.

Før snakket man om de faderløse samfunn. Nå er tenåringene blitt sine egne oppdragere. De trenger ikke voksne.

Tenåringene i denne boblen vil en dag våkne til et sjokk. Obamas feilsteg overfor Iran, Israel, Russland og Syria er ikke enkelthendelser. De er uttrykk for en mentalitet. Etter rundreisen i Asia nylig, sa flere at Obama sa de riktige tingene, men etterlot likevel en nagende tvil: Er han til å stole på?

Obama er realiseringen av 68-drømmen: en svart liberal president. Han har overlegenhetsfølelsen til Apple-generasjonen: det er reachouts til den muslimske verden og resets overfor Russland. Hvis man ikke lykkes er det fordi man ikke forsøkte hardt nok.

If the United States today looks weak, hesitant and in retreat, it is in part because its leaders and their staff do not carry themselves like adults. They may be charming, bright and attractive; they may have the best of intentions; but they do not look serious. They act as though Twitter and clenched teeth or a pout could stop invasions or rescue kidnapped children in Nigeria. They do not sound as if, when saying that some outrage is «unacceptable» or that a dictator «must go,» that they represent a government capable of doing something substantial—and, if necessary, violent—if its expectations are not met. And when reality, as it so often does, gets in the way—when, for example, the Syrian regime begins dousing its opponents with chlorine gas, as it has in recent weeks, despite solemn deals and red lines—the administration ignores it, hoping, as teenagers often do, that if they do not acknowledge a screw-up no one else will notice.

The Obama administration is not alone. The teenage temperament infects our politics on both sides of the aisle, not to mention our great universities and leading corporations. The old, adult virtues—gravitas, sobriety, perseverance and constancy—are the virtues that enabled America to stabilize a shattered world in the 1940s, preserve a perilous order despite the Cold War and navigate the conclusion of that conflict. These and other stoic qualities are worth rediscovering, because their dearth among our leaders is leading them, and us and large parts of the globe, into real danger.

 

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