By the beginning of 1980, Jimmy Carter was in big trouble. Almost everything he had said or done in foreign policy over the prior three years had failed — and he was running for reelection.
Carter had come into office in 1977 promising a new American stance abroad predicated on human rights. He bragged of an end to our supposedly inordinate fear of Soviet-inspired Communism. He entertained the hope of not losing a single American soldier in combat during his tenure. And he rejected the realpolitik of the Nixon-Kissinger years.
The State Department would end the excessive influence of the bellicose National Security Council. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance would put a kinder, gentler face on American diplomacy. We championed Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe over more moderate black reformers. We broke with the Shah of Iran, who fled his country in January 1979. We for a while praised the Ayatollah Khomeini and sought ways to reach out to him. Carter’s U.N. ambassador, Andrew Young, called Khomeini “some kind of saint.” Young met secretly with PLO representatives in Kuwait. In an interview, he falsely alleged of his own country that “We still have hundreds of people that I would categorize as political prisoners in our prisons.” Continue reading “A New Obama Doctrine?”→
The mythologizing of John F. Kennedy in the 50 years since his death has verified the adage in John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” The JFK legend recycled all these years is of a liberal icon, the glamorous martyr whose violent death has validated and sanctified big government, redistributive economic polices, and quasi-pacifist internationalism. The facts, however, belie this myth, which also obscures the true significance of JFK’s brief administration.
In reality, Kennedy was not a liberal in today’s sense of the word, but a conservative Democrat, a Cold-War warrior and tax-cutter, as documented by Ira Stoll in JFK, Conservative. Far from the civil rights saint portrayed in the legend, his support for civil rights legislation was lukewarm, driven by the momentum for desegregation started before him by Truman’s desegregation of the armed forces, and codified by Eisenhower in the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights acts, the first civil rights legislation since 1875. In fact, Kennedy believed that over-hasty progress on civil rights would alienate the conservative Southern wing of the Democrats. That’s why he advised Martin Luther King against his groundbreaking March on Washington in August of 1963, and put little effort into passing additional civil rights legislation. Continue reading “Facts, Democrats and the JFK Legend”→
“It was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire woke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves.”
— J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers.
If it were regrettable that Vladimir Putin’s formidable diplomatic skills were wasted squashing rather than ensuring freedom inside Russia, it seems even more lamentable that his impressive prose likewise is not put to better use. Putin’s letter to us, the American people, is brilliant sophistry. The best rhetoric is always that which blends truth with half-truth and occasional fiction. In Putin’s case, he did all that—while offering the dessert of channeling Obama back to Obama.
Of course, as Putin reminds us, we fought together in WWII and should agree that such cooperation should be emulated. Russia suffered enormous losses for the Allied cause. Without such heroic sacrifices, the Anglo-American alliance may well have lost the war.
Yet Putin forgets to remind us that Russia’s war with Germany was prompted by betrayal. Russia was a de facto ally of Hitler. It kept sending him enormous amounts of material to help defeat France and Continue reading “Putin — Saruman Come Alive”→
We all want democracy to thrive and flourish, but can it?
The Obama administration was quite pleased that the anti-democratic Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood had come to power through a single plebiscite. That confidence required a great deal of moral blindness, both of the present and past. Continue reading “Democracy’s Dog Days”→