Sadly it’s all too true.
The time is the early 1980s. The place is the South China Sea. A sailor aboard the U.S.S. Midway, an aircraft carrier, spots a leaky boat jammed with people fleeing tyranny in Indochina. As he helps bring the desperate refugees to safety, one of them calls out: “Hello, American sailor — Hello, Freedom Man.”
It’s the sort of story Americans used to like hearing about themselves. So much so, in fact, that Ronald Reagan told it in his 1989 farewell address, by way of underscoring how much went right for the United States when, as he put it, “We stood, again, for freedom.”
Not anymore. When the world looks at the United States today, it sings a sorry song. Goodbye America. Goodbye, Freedom Man.
That’s the global lesson from the regional catastrophe that is Donald Trump’s retreat in Syria. The president made his case, as he usually does, in a series of tweets this week. Like their author, the tweets were, by turns, sophomoric and self-important, flippant and destructive.
The lizard they call Donald J. Trump has changed all that.
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