There are some issues where the most important job is to rally the armies of decency against the armies of corruption: Confronting Putin, tackling earmarks and reforming the process of government.
But most issues are not confrontations between virtue and vice. Most problems — the ones Barack Obama is sure to focus on like health care reform and economic anxiety — are the product of complex conditions. They require trade-offs and policy expertise. They are not solvable through the mere assertion of sterling character. ~David Brooks
Does Brooks really think that the most important thing to be done in developing Russia policy is to “rally the armies of decency against the armies of corruption”? Does he believe that the relationship with Russia can be reduced to a confrontation between virtue and vice? Isn’t Russia policy exactly one of those areas that requires trade-offs and policy expertise? Or is this an admission that “confronting Putin” is nothing more than egregious posturing? Is this an acknowledgement that the whole of McCain’s Russia policy is nothing more than one long exercise in moralistic posturing divorced from policy expertise? One wonders what the “assertion of sterling character” will do in shaping the U.S.-Russia relationship, unless it is to convince Moscow that our leaders are prone to windy bluster and empty threats. Perhaps the next time Saakashvili launches an ill-advised military strike, he can call upon the Armies of Decency to support his campaign, since McCain, he of the sterling character assertions, will not be able to do much for him.