Cokie Roberts Laments That Our Adversaries Are No Longer 'Afraid of This Country'

That's right -- Cokie Roberts. Yes, the political commentator who has worked at taxpayer-funded National Public Radio since the Reagan era. It wasn't Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, though he was also a guest on ABC's "This Week" when Roberts said what could easily be heard coming from nearly any conservative pundit.

Roberts and company were discussing yet another round of hostilities between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza when Roberts suggested that a widespread perception of American weakness is partially to blame. (Video after the jump)

Her remarks are prefaced here by observations from Kristol after a question from "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos, to provide context --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bill, you've followed prime minister Bebe Netanyahu for an awful long time. Do you buy what is becoming, I think, a little bit of conventional wisdom that he is quite reluctant to go in on the ground?

KRISTOL: Yeah, and I think a lot of Israeli prime ministers have been. It's a small country and you're talking about casualties on both sides if you go in on the ground in a way that you could minimize perhaps if you fight mostly from the air. So, you know, look, we'll see how effective the air campaign is. I think he'd much prefer not go in on the ground.

ROBERTS: It's a, you know, a real absence though of American leadership in the region because I think that you've got these rockets going into Gaza from Syria and Iran and, you know, we just haven't made a strong enough presence in that region to have people be afraid of this country. And so I think that there's a sense that, you know, they can get away with anything they want to get away with.

Wow -- really bad sign for Obama when he's accused of weakness ... by one of the most prominent voices at NPR.  What next -- he loses Pee-Wee Herman? Then again, perhaps this is just an updated version of that the liberal tendency to Blame America First. (Roberts also works a similar gig for ABC News).

So much for the alleged wisdom of Obama bugging out of Iraqi in 2011 rather than hammering out a status of forces agreement that would have allowed an ongoing US military presence and genuine leverage if needed in the future (like now, for example).

And let's not forget the folly of Obama declaring that use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime in its country's civil war would constitute "a red line" that must not be crossed -- followed by him doing nothing when the line was inevitably crossed. Repeated furrowed-brow expressions of Deep Concern do not constitute a foreign policy that will taken seriously abroad.

Better belated than never for Roberts to say what conservatives have asserted since the year Obama took office -- that Mr. Congeniality is a poor role model to emulate in foreign relations. What Machiavelli instructed a half-millennia ago remains valid today -- it is far better that our adversaries respect and fear the United States than for them to like us.

Middle East This Week Bill Kristol Cokie Roberts Barack Obama