And all the men and women merely players.
"Policy," wrote Metternich, the Austrian minister who steered his country through 39 years of crisis by a tour de force perhaps never excelled, " is like a play in many acts which unfolds inevitably once the curtain is raised. To declare then that the play will not go on is an absurdity. The play will go on either by means of the actors or by means of the spectators who mount the stage....The crucial problem [of statesmanship], therefore, resides in the decision of whether to assemble the audience, whether the curtain is to be raised and above all in the intrinsic merit of the play. "
-Henry A. Kissinger
While striding across the world stage as a true life incarnation of Fortinbras, Barack Obama was helped tremendously by Nuri al-Maliki. The Iraqi prime minister seized the diplomatic initiative to endorse the Democratic candidate for president. It was yet another deflection to American nationalist aspirations.
With calls for more aggressive intervention in Afghanistan, greater demand for Pakistani subservience, and an enthusiastic and mutually reciprocated embrace by the military apparatus, Senator Obama proved his sangfroid. This posture completely undermined his opponent's charge that a Prsident Obama would concede defeat to Islamic fundamentalism or fail to adequately defend the national interest.
If, as I've previously advocated for, Chuck Hagel is tapped as Obama's running mate, then John McCain will effectively be deprived of oxygen. Unlike his Republican colleague, the senator from Nebraska absorbed the correct lessons of Vietnam and recognizes the tragedy that ensues when a great power ceases to be directed by tangible interests with realizable gains and instead obsesses over projecting an image of strength. Hagel's presence on this trip signals that at the very least he will be the next Secretary of Defense if Obama occupies the White House.
Despite its declining political and economic strength, the United States remains quite significant and potent. Modern history has shown that even the most strident revolutionary states of Russia, China, and Vietnam ultimately obliged an international order under the cachet of America. The Middle East, including Iran, should prove no different.