The Golda Who Mattered
Golda Meir, Israel's prime minister during the Yom Kippur War, knew that effective national leaders must understand each other’s personalities as well as each other’s national interests. America, for its part, has blundered when presidents have confused the two.
SAN DIEGO – A movie starring Helen Mirren as Golda Meir has just opened, 50 years after the war that ended the Israeli prime minister’s career. More snore than sleeper hit, Golda captures its subject’s Chesterfield chain-smoking while brushing past a timely lesson about diplomacy: to be effective, leaders need to know each other’s personalities as well as each other’s national interests.
America, for its part, has blundered when presidents have confused the two. President Barack Obama thought he understood Syrian President Bashar al-Assad when Obama warned him that using chemical weapons would cross a “red line.” Assad scoffed and used them anyway. Smelling weakness, Russian President Vladimir Putin all but goose-stepped into Crimea.
Donald Trump then conflated his personal rapport with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un with policy, crowing that a “beautiful” letter from the dictator had changed the dynamic of US-North Korea relations. And President Joe Biden thought he had a handle on the Taliban when he ordered US troops to vacate Afghanistan. He didn’t, and America’s hasty departure left deadly Black Hawk and Apache choppers in the hands of a barbarous regime.