The Era Of Threatiness

Rosa Brooks parodies Obama’s speech to the UN:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: My fellow Americans, the Middle East today is frighteningly full of threatiness.

What, you ask, is threatiness? As my good friend Mr. Stephen Colbert will surely understand, threatiness is to threat as truthiness is to truth. By this, I mean that sometimes we cannot articulate why something is a threat, or offer evidence, but we still think it just feels, you know, threaty. We know it in our gut. And let me be clear: when there is enough threatiness floating around, America must take action.

Nicely done. It’s amazing that no one has yet identified any threat to the US to justify a return to war in Iraq, let alone Syria. Fisher finds Brooks’ coinage useful:

There are two ways to interpret the threatiness of the Obama administration’s case for Syria strikes. The sympathetic interpretation is that there is in fact a good case for intervening against ISIS to curb the danger it poses, but that this danger is difficult to sell politically, because it is too indirect, abstract, and/or complex for a prime time speech. For example, the administration may believe that ISIS is destabilizing an already unstable region in a way that, if left unchecked, really would lead to non-exaggerated threats to the US, not unlike what happened when the Taliban took over Afghanistan. And so, for the sake of political expedience, Obama is using the more palatable language of threatiness, even though that language is at least partly bullshit. That’s the sympathetic interpretation.

The unsympathetic interpretation is that the Obama administration felt pressured into strikes that it now has to justify, or it has no strategy and is trying to cover that up, or it earnestly believes its overstated language.

Take your pick. But none of the interpretations really add up, at least in my mind.