When was the only time America’s left-liberal media gave President Trump any real credit? The answer is 7 April 2017, after he threw a few fairly pointless missiles at Assad’s forces in Syria. ‘I think Donald Trump became the President of the United States last night,’ gushed Fareed Zakaria of CNN. The New York Times said Trump had shown ‘heart’. Brian Williams, an anchor on MSNBC, went so far as to quote Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.’
In recent days, the same outlets have for the first time started airing heated criticisms of President Biden over his decision to pull America’s troops out of Afghanistan and his stubborn insistence that he’s right to do so even as the Taliban regain control. Zakaria called the move a ‘stain on Biden’s foreign policy’. The Atlantic’s George Packer said that America’s ‘betrayal’ of Afghanistan ‘will live in infamy. The burden of shame falls on Joe Biden.’
What is it about America’s military interventions that causes so many commentators to override their usual hyperpartisan pathologies and so chauvinistically endorse America’s role as policeman of the world? In CNN’s case, it might be partly because during the first Gulf war, its ground-breakingcoverage helped turn the channel into one of the ‘big three’ US networks. A spirit of liberal internationalism still runs through CNN’s cables directly to your TV screen.
But the world has changed since 1991, so it’s strange that, on foreign affairs, not just CNN but so much of the English-speaking media remain fixated on an antiquated American exceptionalist view of the world — especially since the country’s ancient political leaders have started to move on.
What 78-year-old Biden appears to have understood, albeit in his foggy-brained way — and what 75-year-old Trump briefly forgot in April 2017 — is that the US public is not interested in the imaginary ‘red lines’ of international relations pundits.