Number 3 with a bullet

The United States comes in at number 3 (I’d say number 3 with a bullet) on Walter Russell Mead’s retrospective “2013: The world’s biggest losers.” (Mead’s counterpart for winners of 2013 is here.) Mead’s assessments are biting and concise. They are worth reading simply as models of good writing, but they also demonstrate his expertise in foreign policy.

Here is the concluding paragraph of Mead’s entry for the United States:

The Mandela memorial, with President Obama’s participation chiefly noted for the lunatic “sign language” interpretation accorded his speech (the worst Presidential interpretation snafu since a State Department interpreter mangled a Jimmy Carter speech to stunned Poles decades ago) and the clownish selfie that the President snapped with some giggling cronies was, unfortunately, the event that best encapsulated the administration’s year. From a Nobel Peace Prize and global acclaim to selfies in the gallery as his diplomats chase long shots on an unforgiving timeline; that is not the trajectory of a successful career. Whatever their politics, Americans should join in hoping for a better 2014.

I doubt that Mead invokes “hoping” ironically. “Hope” looms large in the Obama legend. As they say in the real world, however, hope is not a strategy.