Many years ago in grade school, we had a playground bully who liked to push little kids down, me included. I suppose he was abused at home. I don’t care. I consulted my Dad, who knew everything in those days.
He said sometimes the right thing is to walk away. “But at some point, son, you’ll have to stand up to him.” I had kinda hoped Dad would do the standing up to him part. So, putting responsibility on me was quite terrifying. The bully was a fifth-grader, for heaven’s sake.
Sure enough, the same school year, that kid came at me again, walking right up and shoving both shoulders hard to knock me down. From out of nowhere, without thinking that time, I struck back as hard as a third-grader could swing his little fist. The unexpected retaliation landed full on the shocked bully’s throat. That was as high as I could reach.
He fell back, coughing, grabbing his neck. The juvenile crowd gasped. He hustled away. The playground monitor reported details to the principal. He closed his office door, sat down next to me, all serious. “Sometimes,” he said, suddenly smiling, “you have to stand up to bullies.”
I thought of that enlightening episode back in February when Joe Biden bombed an Iranian militia outpost in Syria in retaliation for rocket attacks on Iraqi bases with U.S. personnel, his first known use of lethal force as commander-in-chief. Albeit the most conservative military option available.
Sunday night, word arrived that Biden had ordered new F-15E attacks along the Iraq-Syria border on three militia weapons sites said to be preparing launches against similar U.S.-occupied bases.
“The United States,” a Pentagon spokesman said, “took necessary, appropriate and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation, but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message.”
That sounds firm, as it was meant to — firmer than the president himself usually sounds these days. Militia groups there have been using increasingly sophisticated armaments in recent weeks. These have included at least eight attacks by unmanned drones, an indication that perhaps Biden’s
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