America Is Led By A Visibly Incompetent Blunderer, Whose Incautious Public Blusterings Can Be Taken No More Seriously Than The Rantings Of A Child

8 04 2022

  By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The title of this article are the words of Wilfred McClay, a professor of history at Hillsdale College, which are worth reading and reflecting on:

Forty-four days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, evidence continues to accumulate of Russian brutalities and hideous atrocities inflicted upon the people of that long-suffering land.

The mass graves and corpses littering the streets in the town of Bucha tell a horrifying tale of wanton and indiscriminate murder, and many world leaders — including President Joe Biden — are labeling the Russian actions war crimes.

There have been thousands of innocent victims—5,000 alone in the city of Mariupol—and their blood cries out from the ground.

Yet it is far from clear what we in the United States can or should do.

We can join other countries in imposing economic sanctions on Russia.

We can increase the supply of weapons to Ukraine, including high-tech arms, amid concerns that Russia is about to launch a large offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

We can continue to dial up the volume of our moral indignation, our condemnation of Vladimir Putin, our treatment of the Russian nation as an international pariah, most recently by suspending Russia from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council.

But it seems unlikely that such actions will accomplish much, even as our national leaders repeat their empty vow to do ‘everything we can’ for the Ukraine.

‘We want to see this come to an end as quickly as possible,’ Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell on April 6. ‘And that’s exactly why we’re making sure we’re doing everything we can to support Ukraine…’

Of course, America is not doing ‘everything we can’.

We have all but ruled out the type of assistance requested by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, such as a no-fly zone over his desperate country.

President Joe Biden has pledged that American troops will not directly engage with Russian forces.

So, what explains this glaring self-delusion?

And don’t our traditions demand more of us?

Americans are a compassionate people, we say, and surely we cannot stand idly by while such barbarity is unleashed and allowed free reign.

We have a proud heritage, it will be said, of coming to the aid of the suffering people of the world, the homeless and the tempest-tossed.

Moreover, the Ukrainian effort to resist the Russians is a just and valiant one, consonant with the longstanding American commitment to self-rule and national self-determination.

Can our consciences permit us to look away?

Our traditions and our history do not speak with one clear voice, though.

There has always been a tension in the American mind, between assuming a posture of restraint and aloofness from the world, and one of zealous engagement and intervention.

In 1831 John Quincy Adams, reacting to calls for American intervention in Greece, declared that ‘America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’

That memorable statement, so reflective of the country’s heritage of republican government, supplied much of the basis for American foreign policy during the nineteenth century.

But with the Spanish-American War of 1898, which was (not coincidentally) sparked by Spanish atrocities committed against the people of Cuba, this changed.

By the twentieth century Adams’s restraint had been replaced by the crusading zeal of leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, who sought to cover the earth with American influence, and go in search of monsters to destroy.

It would be a terrible injustice to deny the beneficence of American influence over the course of the twentieth century.

Neither of the two great world wars could have been brought to a close with an Allied victory without the strength and sacrifice supplied by the United States.

The world has good reason to be grateful.

But we have not been consistent in dealing with cases of atrocity.

A few examples.

There will always be a pall hanging over Franklin Roosevelt’s administration for its failure to do more to forestall the murder of European Jews in Germany’s death camps.

True, we took part NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999, which was prompted by Yugoslavia’s ethnic cleansing of Albanians.

But in the Biafran genocide of the late 1960s in which some 2 million were killed; there was little response from the US government, though much response from non-governmental organizations.

And there was a similar lack of response to the Rwandan massacres of 1994, in which nearly 700,000 died.

But that is not all.

If we are to soberly contemplate the limits on our actions in Ukraine, a terrible reality must be faced.

We have in recent years accumulated a dismal record of failing to honor the pledges we have made to the people we propose to aid, and as a result, we have contributed to the immense suffering of those who had relied upon us.

That was one of the indelible legacies of the war in Vietnam.

And more recently, with the nation’s colossally damaging bug-out from Afghanistan last year, and now with the situation in Ukraine, that record has become even more toxic.

As satisfying as it is for us to moralize about Putin’s being an evil and demonic man, we seem to have forgotten that in the early 1990s, Ukraine’s leadership was induced to disarm the country and abandon its stockpile of nuclear weapons, in exchange for signed guarantees from the international community ensuring its future security.

What are those guarantees worth now?

Would any of today’s carnage be happening if Ukraine had kept those weapons?

What lesson will other nations draw from this betrayal?

What is our moral responsibility for having created this state of affairs?

No, the unfortunate truth is that the credibility of our country and governing class stands at a low point.

The biggest obstacle to our taking effective action in the world is ourselves—our largely self-imposed economic, military, and moral weakness.

In today’s political climate, with America’s international leadership ebbing fast, and its presidential office occupied by a visibly incompetent blunderer, whose incautious public blusterings can be taken no more seriously than the rantings of a child, the United States is simply in no shape to take on the long and complex work of international diplomacy.

Based on our recent track record, there is no reason to believe we have the capacity, as a nation, to sustain a serious effort in that direction.

Instead, since at least the 2000 election, we have saved most of our energies for vicious and unproductive domestic politics, including an astonishingly deceitful effort, undertaken with the support of high-ranking officials in our intelligence agencies, to convince the American people that their president had been elected by means of ‘collusion’ with the Russians.

Now that this effort has collapsed, though with no one being punished for it, the American people are confused and distrustful of their own rulers.

They are properly horrified by Putin’s actions in Ukraine. But they are not willing to take serious and sacrificial actions on the orders of a ruling elite that they do not trust.

Who can blame them?

We have been living in a dream world, thinking that our conspicuous internal divisions, exposed to all the world, would never be used against us, someday and somehow, to maximum effect.

We are paying the price for having been, for too long, an unserious nation governed by unserious people.

We can come back from this, as we have come back from folly and decadence before. But there is not much more time to waste.

And of course, Putin is far from being the most formidable of our adversaries.

Let us hope that the current crisis in Ukraine will begin to wake us up.[2]

Professor McClay’s words are sobering, and may prove to be prophetic.  We have adversaries globally who want to destroy us and our allies, and reinstitute the “dark ages.”  Two of them are Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping who launched the Coronavirus pandemic that has killed so many globally.


© 2022, Timothy D. Naegele


[1]  Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  See, e.g., Timothy D. Naegele Resume-21-8-6  and  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal (see, e.g., Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., and, and studied photography with Ansel Adams.  He can be contacted directly at

[2]  See (“Americans are torn between the desire to save Ukraine and the sad reality that we won’t. Years of division and a visibly incompetent blunderer as president have made our nation weak, writes historian WILFRED MCCLAY”); see also (“The Search For Sanity Amidst So Much Insanity”)

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