Steven Taylor forwards Steve Benen‘s recent post “Right Movie, Wrong Lesson” in which he chides Joe Scarborough for his sympathy for Colonel Jessep, as played by Jack Nicolson in the movie version of “A Few Good Men,” noting that we’d had a similar conversation when I was at his house last weekend helping celebrate the publication of his new book.
Amusingly, I wrote almost the exact same post my very first day blogging at OTB — using almost the exact same title!
Jonah Goldberg’s column today is an excellent example of how you can agree with someone’s conclusions but strongly object to their argument. Yes, the Tom Cruise character in “A Few Good Men” was a smart-aleck pretty boy (as he is in all of his watchable movies; he’s dreadful when he tries to go against type). Yes, the Jack Nicholson character (Colonel Jessep) had some great lines and it was easy to cheer for some of them. But Jessep was a villain in the flick. However well intentioned, he believed himself above the rules of his society and ordered his subordinates to break the law, with the tragic result of killing one of the men under his command. And then covering it up rather than taking responsibility. Not exactly heroic. I’d hate for Jessep to be the role model for American foreign policy. And, getting to Goldberg’s direct point, while it’s true that the US provides the lion’s share of the NATO defense burden, that doesn’t mean the Europeans have lost all right to dissent. They’re sometimes (okay, usually) annoying, but they aren’t our subordinates; they’re sovereign states with a rather different set of interests. Indeed, that’s the reason we need to preserve the option to act “unilaterally” rather than having all our actions subject to a NATO or UN veto.
The more things change . . .