Don’t Major In Political Science

Innocents Abroad: Some History Would’ve Helped

By Ray McGovern

Fat and skinny had a race, all around the Middle East; each fell down, lost still more face; and neither won the race.

The twin travels around the Middle East of Secretary of State Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton would be high comedy, were killing and destruction some kind of game.  They are on tour to ’splain to U.S. vassal states what their boss really meant about withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria. (Psst. In case you haven’t heard, Trump didn’t really mean what he said.)

See, for example this sad report in today’s Washington Post:

As they hustle from capital to capital, here are two takeaways:

1 — President Donald Trump is not his own man (as if confirmation of that piece of reality were needed at this point); and

2 — You can get all A’s at the U.S. Military Academy (as Pompeo did), learn little to no history, become a know-nothing politician, and flunk life —ruining a lot of other lives in the process.  And you can major in political science at Yale and graduate summa cum laude (as Bolton did), and the realities you learn about the Middle East boil down the “obvious” need for the U.S. to dominate the area and “walk in lockstep” with Israel. (Those are the words President Obama used as 100 million viewers watched him being interviewed immediately before the Super Bowl in 2012.) The Yale Law School alumnus spoke with ironic candor — ironic in the sense that his use of “lockstep” betokens a remarkable insensitivity to the history of blacks on chain gangs in the South.

(“Lockstep?” What does Webster’s say of “lockstep?”


1  a mode of marching in step by a body of men going one after another as closely as possible;

2  a standard method or procedure that is mindlessly adhered to


in perfect, rigid, often mindless conformity or unison.)

Former Secretary of State John Kerry also majored in political science at Yale, four years before Bolton.  It became gradually clear that — like Obama and Bolton — Kerry too thought the U.S. could “align” the various forces in the Middle East because … well, it was a mixture of hubris and ignorance.  Let Kerry’s own words provide the evidence.  Here’s how he explained it all to a conference run by the Atlantic magazine:

Sept. 29, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: — but Syria is as complicated as anything I’ve ever seen in public life, in the sense that there are probably about six wars or so going on at the same time – Kurd against Kurd, Kurd against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sunni, Shia, everybody against ISIL, people against Assad, Nusrah. This is as mixed-up sectarian and civil war and strategic and proxies, so it’s very, very difficult to be able to align forces. So it’s —

MR STEVE CLEMONS: So in the middle of that, why did you think you could get a ceasefire?

Better to major in history.