Age beyond age on British land,
Aeons on aeons gone,
Was peace and war in western hills,
And the White Horse looked on.
-G.K. Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse
Iran struck Erbil today with missiles launched openly from its own territory, aimed apparently at the American consulate there. They didn’t manage to hit it, which isn’t very surprising; the reason the Iranians want nukes so bad is that their missiles can’t hit anything well enough to be worth something without a nuke.
The Biden administration via the State Department issued a statement that reads as if they regard it as a matter for criminal investigation by the local authorities, rather than the clearest possible act of war.
Coming from somebody else, that might seem like a kind of strong answer: a statement that ‘Your best efforts to hurt me aren’t really worth my notice.’ Coming from this administration, it’s anything but that. They’re allowing Russia — even now — to negotiate a deal they hope to make with Iran, which will let them develop those nukes they want so much. It’ll also allow Russia another outlet to escape the sanctions the Biden administration claims to be so proud of imposing.
Once they get this deal, the administration will claim victory. Iran will build nuclear weapons. Russia will evade sanctions. Eventually, those missiles Iran’s government already aren’t afraid to fire at our diplomatic missions will have teeth.
This is being done by the people who claim to be the top experts on national security and diplomacy in the entire world, as J. Michael Waller pointed out. They’re from the best schools; they were shaped by the finest institutions. Like our generals were, the ones who took no responsibility whatsoever for the collapse and destruction in Afghanistan. These are the elite, so we are told.
Our systems for producing elites are manifestly broken. They worked for a long time, but they are broken now. Like the Roman cursus honorum, a series of offices of increasing honor and power that a leader would go through, they used to ensure that our leaders had the right experience to carry out their duties competently at each new level. For a long time, America’s systems kept our world secure by providing competent leaders who each knew their jobs, had each been prepared at every level for the next duty.
That no longer works. There is no way to deny the evidence of our eyes. It is not just our leaders but our systems that have failed. We have no choice but to find a new way of choosing leaders, and to replace those who were brought up in the old system. That can be done thoughtfully, or it can just be allowed to happen when the system collapses under the weight of its accumulating failures. Either way, it is coming fast.