I'm reading an old WSJ and can only guess at the meaning of "venusian". Does it mean "out of this world" or "isolated", "hands off", or something else?

Here's the quote from a Wall St. Journal article dated 11-21-15 referring to Obama's strategy:

The flip side of European pleasure at America’s newfound Venusian outlook is the perception, widely shared around the world, that the U.S. is a declining superpower, and that even if it is not objectively weaker than it once was, its leaders’ willingness to deploy power on behalf of its interests, and on behalf of the West, has greatly diminished."

Here is the Webster definition:

of or relating to the planet Venus


After looking at the piece (by Robert Kagan) my sense is that Venusian is here intended as the opposite of Martial (in the sense of warlike). Where President George W. Bush displeased European opinion by being far too eager for war, his successor has been notably less eager, and that is the change Mr. Kagan seems to be talking about.

The two planets are opposite not only in the sense that their astrological symbols double as symbols for the two sexes (and Mr. Kagan may well be subtly calling Mr. Obama what Mr. Trump less subtly called Mr. Cruz a week ago), but also in ruling or co-ruling opposite humors: Mars the yellow bile, hot and dry and associated with belligerence, irascibility, and anger; and Venus the phlegm, cold and moist and associated with placidity. (These planets share the astrological rule of these humors with the sun and moon respectively.)

My source here is John W. Draper, The Humors and Shakespeare’s Characters (Durham, NC: Duke U.P., 1945; rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1965).

I do not think the term refers here to runaway greenhouse effect, though the planet Venus is often cited as a cautionary example of that.

As cobaltduck has astutely noted in a comment hereupon, the opposition of these two planets in relation to sex and/or gender was given renewed currency by John Gray’s 1992 pop-psych bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.

  • 1
    Perfect. Question closed.
    – user116032
    Feb 15 '16 at 16:45
  • 1
    @user116032 You didn't mark it as solved! Feb 16 '16 at 6:28
  • It is also possible it was a reference to the John Gray book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, and if so, your main points are still entirely valid.
    – cobaltduck
    Feb 16 '16 at 18:14

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