The senior satirist of the right returns to dissect foreign policy and—Lord help us—he seems to have moments of distinct sanity. Never mind the purposefully Orwellian title.
Because Americans are foreigners, Americans hate foreign policy, says the libertarian comedian. He doesn’t seem too fond of foreign policy either. With less of his accustomed spleen, his points seem sometimes less barbed than might be expected. The pundit offers no puns; he is less sour and presents fewer ad hominem attacks than in his earlier texts (The CEO of the Sofa, 2001, etc.). He’s not nearly as fractious as the Sunday morning talking heads. With less embroidery, our comedian seems to be maturing, citing eminent greybeards like Fouad Ajami and Bernard Lewis anent the inscrutable Middle East. O’Rourke lands in Israel in time for Passover and in Egypt in time for Ramadan, 2001, and has a few cogent comments about what he sees, admittedly as a tourist. In Kuwait at the start of the most recent hostilities, he becomes a “unilateral” war correspondent amid Humvees, Bradley fighting vehicles, and Patriot missile launchers, embedded in a hotel full of TV producers. Checking out ravaged Iraq, his backgrounder journalism is first-rate and, reviewing a Washington Mall political demonstration, his color reportage is smartly selective and funny. We will never catch O’Rourke, ever the professional reporter, wearing a kaffiyeh to make an obscure point. Effectively ruining his chances for a Nobel, he bravely sasses the prize committee; with heavy sarcasm he deconstructs a surely well-meant, albeit fatuous, commemorative statement by a committee of laureates. Included is an obligatory September 11th essay and effective musings on warfare from the sands of Iwo Jima.
From far away and within the Beltway, thoughtful pronouncements from one possible candidate for the office of Secretary of Moral Guidance and Public Relations (soon to be established).