Liberal treachery from the cold war to the war on terrorism




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Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.) called for "immediate withdrawal" of the troops. He said, "There is no longer anything remotely approaching a bipartisan consensus to let the marines stay for 18 months."29 The Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill said the Lebanon policy had failed: "The marines don't know why they're there and the American people don't know why they're there."30 Representative Mike Lowry, Democrat of Washington, said, "The latest thing in Lebanon proves absolutely that it's futile and hopeless to have these people stationed in Lebanon. There's no possible way we can achieve stability."31 Repre­sentative Ted Weiss, Democrat of New York and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: "The longer we delay, the worse the time gets."32

Reagan responded to the Democrats' hysteria, saying Democrat House Speaker Tip O'Neill "may be ready to surrender, but I'm not." He warned that the Democrats' resolution would aid and abet our enemies in the region. He dispatched Lawrence S. Eagleburger, under­secretary of state for political affairs, to tell the fainthearted congres­sional Democrats that walking away from Lebanon "only postpones the day of reckoning,"33

According to the New York Times, the Democrats delayed their withdrawal resolution in part because of "the criticism expressed by Republicans throughout the day."34 But the Democrats had leapt on the bombing of the Marine barracks as a political issue and would not let go. Though Reagan claimed he wasn't going to pay any attention to the Democrats' carping, unfortunately he did.35 Reagan gradually with­drew our troops, while simultaneously bombing Syrian-controlled areas that were firing into Beirut and on our troops. The Democrats com­plained about that, too. They had voted for deploying American troops to Lebanon, but claimed to have no idea that this meant American forces were authorized to shoot back. Speaker O'Neill denounced Rea­gan's policy of shelling Syrian artillery positions, saying the bombing was "absolutely not" within the authorization Congress granted to the president under the Lebanon War powers resolution.36 Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, demonstrating his usual firm grasp of the world around him, said the military's use of force was a total shock: "What concerns me is that while we have withdrawal of the marines, we'll have an increase in the firing."37

In light of Reagan's spectacular execution of foreign policy, pre­vailing over an evil empire to win a half-century war with the USSR, to complain that he did not also defy the Democrats in an election year and retaliate more forcefully in Lebanon is like the complaint that the framers of the Constitution, after defeating the British Empire and cre­ating the greatest government ever known to mankind, did not also give women the right to vote. Reagan had bigger fish to fry in the 1980s. He invaded Grenada. He bombed Libya. His administration nourished a long, internecine war with many casualties between Iran and Iraq. He gave Israel plenty of aid and a long leash to combat Islamic crazies. All this, while winning a final victory over Soviet totalitarianism. By contrast, American failure was the centerpiece of the Johnson, Kennedy, and Carter administrations. Where on the globe was Presi­dent Johnson winning a war for America while losing one in Vietnam?

Danner dismissed Reagan's annihilation of the Soviet Union as merely "the triumphant cold war narrative we have shaped for our­selves." How about "the defeatist Vietnam narrative liberals have shaped for the rest of us"? Reagan's victory in the Cold War is more than a comforting bedtime story. For fifty years, Americans lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation by the Soviet Union. Now they don't. I think that goes in the "Victory" column.

It's interesting how, in their endless reminiscing about Vietnam, the Iranian hostage crisis, or Black Hawk Down, liberals tend to shy away from mentioning who was president. Indeed, Danner's entire summary of Vietnam is "the panicked retreat from Saigon in 1975." Didn't something happen before 1975? A war or something? No. Lib­erals treat a war started by Kennedy, lost by Johnson, and ended hon­orably by Nixon as a Republican war. Here's a little secret academics may not have mastered in their exhaustive study of U.S. history: Forty-nine states reelected Nixon in 1972. It wasn't because they thought he was doing a lousy job in Vietnam.

Nor, despite endless reminders of Vietnam, were Americans feel­ing particularly frustrated and vulnerable in the war on terrorism. Danner insisted that America was at a "grave disadvantage" because the enemy had attacked the "vulnerability in the American mind."38 He said the terrorists "who gave their lives on Sept. 11 and those who sent them have precise objectives and a clear plan to achieve them. Meanwhile, America was beset by "the frustrations of the powerful." Danner explained that beating al-Qaeda would "require much greater power than America has shown itself to possess."

Except that - oops, wrong again. Outside of the nation's faculty lounges and editorial boards, the "vulnerability in the American mind" never materialized. Americans were so committed to the war in Afghan­istan that even the Democrats could pony up only a single vote in Con­gress against it. Repeatedly throughout the next year, large majorities of Americans would tell pollsters they also supported attacking Iraq. Every obstructionist objection the Democrats raised to the war on ter­rorism would instantly vanish through lack of popular support.

In another Surrender Now piece in the Los Angeles Times, Robert Dallek and Robert Jervis, of Boston University and Columbia Univer­sity respectively, argued against invading Iraq. (Jervis is the "Adlai E. Stevenson professor of international politics," which I suppose is a step up from the Alger Hiss chair at Bard College.) They argued that Sad­dam Hussein posed merely a "speculative and future" threat and claimed the nation's preventive actions always fail, while preemptive actions succeed.39

Discounting their brusque assertion that Saddam Hussein was merely a "speculative" threat, the professors' schemata almost sounded plausible until you realize the professors had simply defined all actions that failed as "preventive" and all actions that succeeded as "pre­emptive." Thus, for example, the professors defined the Gulf War - launched in response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait - as a "preemptive" action. But the Vietnam War - launched in response to Ho Chi Minh's invasion of South Vietnam - they called a "preventive" action. Even Dallek and Jervis didn't have the nerve to characterize the Grenada invasion as "preemptive." Instead, Grenada was quickly dis­missed as an exception to their otherwise watertight theory. Interestingly, all the successful "preventive" actions - such as American interven­tions in Grenada, Angola, and Nicaragua - seemed to cluster in Repub­lican administrations. Instead of calling these exceptions to a theory that would, by then, explain nothing, a more useful method of distinguish­ing successful interventions from failed interventions is that the suc­cessful ones were taken by Republicans and the failures were executed by Democrats. The preventive/preemptive framework is nothing but a smoke screen for the Democrats' unblemished record of disaster in national defense since World War II.

Predictably, all three failed military interventions cited by Dallek and Jervis were undertaken by Democrats. The professors listed the Bay of Pigs (Kennedy); the invasion of the Dominican Republic (John­son); and Vietnam (Kennedy, Johnson, and the Democratic Congress that ultimately abandoned South Vietnam under cover of "Watergate," trashing America's honor and word). In Johnson's defense, only a lib­eral could consider the invasion of the Dominican Republic a failure. It was over in about a week, there was minimal loss of life, and we overthrew a lousy Communist, Juan Bosch.

The professors' lone example of a "preventive" action by a Repub­lican president that failed was the CIA's role in helping return the Shah of Iran to power in 1953. Professors Dallek and Jervis claimed that installing Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was a failure because - I quote - it "helped create the conditions for the eventual triumph of Islamic militants in 1979 who remain hostile to us."

Wow. That's an interesting theory of causation. We're not talking about the Kerensky government here (Alexander Kerensky, head of Russian provisional government July 8, 1917-November 7, 1917). The loss of the Shah in 1979 was an unarguable disaster, but it's rather a stretch to blame it on Dwight Eisenhower. The Carter presi­dency was somewhat closer in time to the Iranian Revolution. In 1978, future Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jimmy Carter ostentatiously withdrew American support for the Shah and then stood idly by when, weeks later, the Shah was deposed by a mob of Islamic fanatics. But according to professors Dallek and Jervis, the proximate cause of the Ayatollah Khomeini's rise to power was not Jimmy Carter's abandon­ment of the Shah, but the fact that the Shah ever held power at all. The CIA installed the Shah in 1953, and then - wham! - twenty-six years later, Islamic fanatics deposed him.

On the professors' idea of cause and effect, forget Eisenhower. Eve was responsible. Professor Dallek also claims Harry Truman – not Reagan - won the Cold War. And let us always honor President McKinley's indispensable role in crushing the Nazi war machine (William McKinley, twenty-fifth president 1897-1901).

Liberals didn't express much dismay about Carter dumping the Shah at the time. To the contrary, the left had always hated the Shah and was happy to see him go. Liberals prefer the sort of comical Third World despot one reads about in Evelyn Waugh novels. They think the rest of the world should be their Disneyland. The Shah was pro-Western and didn't dress like a clown. He did not threaten to hurl Scud missiles at Israel. Liberals found him a bore. Most of all, they could never forgive the Shah for replacing the left's beloved Mohammed Mossadegh - the sort of authentic Third World ruler the left admires. Mossadegh may have impoverished his country, but he was lifey: He cried, fainted, and consulted his two-year-old grand­daughter before making government decisions.40

For decades, liberals campaigned tirelessly against the Shah, eagerly awaiting the day that Iran would be ruled by a legitimate Third World tyrant. Richard Falk of Princeton famously praised the Ayatollah Khomeini, predicting that he "may yet provide us with a desper­ately needed model of humane governance for a third-world country."41 Carter's U.N. ambassador Andrew Young pronounced that Khomeini would "eventually be hailed as a saint."42 Ramsey Clark, avid "peace" activist in the war on terrorism and President Johnson's attorney general, returned from a meeting with Khomeini in Paris in 1979 urging the U.S. government to take no action to help the Shah. He argued that Iran should be able to "determine its own fate."43 Clark implored members of Congress not to come to the Shah's defense.

So by helping install the Shah in 1953, forcing liberals to attack him and Carter to betray him, the Eisenhower administration set in motion an inevitable chain reaction that would cause Islamic fanatics to come to power. This from the people who snickered about the domino theory in Vietnam.

Soon after Carter allowed the pro-Western Shah to be deposed by a raving anti-American Islamic mob, the mob seized the American embassy and took fifty-two Americans hostage. It was a living testa­ment to liberal "diplomacy": American citizens being held captive by angry barbarians in a frightening land for 444 days. Carter's strategy of patient suasion with lunatics finally worked and the hostages were released - the day President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. Show­ing the results diplomacy gets, Carter had so warmed the hearts of the Islamofascists that twenty years later, Iran denied Carter's son a visa to visit the country.44

The release of American hostages the day Ronald Reagan became commander in chief had no impact on liberal thinking about foreign policy. No matter what the evidence, liberals insist that only their ten­der ministrations are capable of calming murderous dictators. Negoti­ation and engagement are said to "work" because, after Democrats spend years dillydallying with lunatic despots who threaten America, eventually a Republican president comes in and threatens aggressive military action. In a fascinating fifty-year pattern - completely indis­cernible to liberals - murderous despots succumb to "engagement" shortly after a Republican president threatens to bomb them. This allows liberals to hail years of impotent negotiation and engagement as a foreign policy "win."

Naturally, therefore, Professors Dallek and Jervis cited Libya as a "case in point" for negotiation rather than military intervention. Muammar Qaddafi came to heel, they claimed, only as a result of a meticulous policy of engagement. Qaddafi "mended his ways in the face of a Western policy that combined military threats with U.N. eco­nomic sanctions while holding out the possibility of better relations." Also, Reagan bombed him.

After Libyan agents set off bombs in a West Berlin discotheque frequented by American servicemen in April 1986, Reagan retaliated with air strikes against Qaddafi's living quarters, missing Qaddafi, but killing his daughter. The Americans hit military targets in Tripoli and Benghazi. Our "allies," the French, denied America the use of its air­space for the attack. Tired from the long flights and showing a puckish sense of humor, the pilots bombed the French embassy by accident.

Pow! So sorry, our mistake. Our "allies" in Europe were duly morti­fied, uttering the usual litany of horrors - the bombing raid would strengthen the hardliners, it would lead to yet more terrorist attacks, it would drive Qaddafi closer to the Soviet Union. But since the bombing raid we haven't heard much from Qaddafi. That got him out of the ter­rorism business in a hurry. Qaddafi was alleged to have been involved in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, but that is speculative at best, in that Iran's former minister for terrorism has claimed credit.45 Qaddafi has openly cooperated with the U.S. in the war on terrorism. It's unlikely that Qaddafi warmed to the Great Satan because of diplo­macy and engagement. In January 2003, as the United States prepared to attack Iraq, one of Qaddafi's senior officials nervously asked a British diplomat, "Will they come after us?"46 As Ronald Reagan said, peace through strength is an idea that never goes out of style.

For fifty years, America's foreign policy failures have not been problems of "national dialogue" or "preventive" action or the national psyche. There is one simple problem: Democrats can't handle foreign policy. You could almost forgive the Democrats for their spectacular record of failure in foreign policy. But then they have the audacity to cite their own derelict handling of the military to argue that it is always a fool's errand to deploy troops in defense of the nation. Remember Vietnam!

We should remember Vietnam. This is what we should remember: Whenever Democrats dabble in military affairs, America suffers relentless defeats, entire continents fall to Communism, America loses wars, invasions fail, Americans are taken hostage, American soldiers are dragged through the streets, and the nation is demoralized and humiliated. It is a fact that the Democrats have been responsible for every unmitigated foreign policy disaster since World War II.

8

HOW TRUMAN WON THE COLD WAR DURING THE REAGAN ADMINISTRATION

Liberals dispute that Ronald Reagan won the Cold War on the basis of their capacity to put mocking quotation marks around the word "won." That's pretty much the full argument: Restate a factual proposition with sneering quote marks. It used to be "evil empire" that took the derisive punctuation. But after Reagan van­quished the evil empire, it's "won" that gets the quotes. Sometimes the whole phrase is put in quote marks - "won the Cold War." This is meant to prove not only that no one "won," but that there was no "war." Ironically, though there was no "Cold War," and nobody "won" it, the true hero of the Cold War was Harry Truman. It was the process of "containment" set in motion by reliable old Dean Acheson that just needed time to work. Or at least it was someone - anyone - other than Reagan who won the Cold War.
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