Saturday, October 19, 2019

American Inconstancy

In the matter of American constancy, a salient issue in the current debate about President Trump’s Syria policy, Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins offers some chilling reminders … of American inconstancy:

The United States abandoned half of Europe to the Soviets, which included abandoning the Free Poles who fought by our side in World War II. We let South Vietnam go down the drain in a fit of Watergate pique. George H.W. Bush called on the Iraqi people to remove Saddam Hussein and then allowed them to be massacred without U.S. assistance. The U.S. set matters right with the 2007 surge in Iraq whereupon President Obama withdrew the troops and let the place fall apart again. Mr. Obama also assured Syrian oppositionists that the U.S. would respond militarily if Bashar Assad used chemical weapons and then didn’t.

It would be nice if the U.S. could provide steady, wise and endlessly resourceful leadership. It would be nice if each of us, in our own lives, could be everywhere and do everything. That’s not life.

Consider it a thought for today.


UbuMaccabee said...

We bailed on Hungary in 56 and the Czechs in 68. We let the Tiananmen Sq protests die on the vine, and also abandoned the recent green protests in Iran. We didn't do much for the Cubans who landed in 61 either. Ask Francisco Maduro about American assurances. Hell, ask Mubarak or Reza Pahlavi about American sweet talk. Every nation has a long list of "dishonorable" action/inaction that they took out of self-interest and/or self-preservation. Shrug.

As for McRaven, if that's the best he can do, he's neither bright nor interesting. Thanks for the service and all that, but he's just repeating cliches and virtue signalling on the NYT stage--and he's damn close to suggesting that maybe someone should do something extra-constitutional, if needed, to remove the badorangeman. It's mere hysteria, and not becoming of an officer. This is the product of our elite institutions? It's almost painful to read his boy-scout-oath admonishments. It's a textbook case of what Machiavelli or Clausewitz would advise against. Machiavelli would entitle it: "How to deplete the treasury, fortify your enemies, and be hated for it in the end among your friends and enemies alike."

If America possessed imperial psychology, then we might be equipped to impose imperial rules around the world. But if you asked me what imperial psychology would constitute, I would be arrested. McRaven would faint. We can't even execute murderers without half the nation sobbing over them, how in the hell are we going to lay down the law in western Turkey? Atrocities come with the scenery. Want to be effective in that part of the world? I give you: Tamerlane. Oh, and why didn't we just execute all those ISIS prisoners, or at least give the Kurds the green light to do so? Because we're not equipped to do what needs to be done in western Syria--at all.

Little Peggy Noonan can get stuffed. It's time for the women of the uni-party coffee klatch to shuttle off to play bridge and close the doors behind them--and take Mitt Romney and dear Lindsey with you. This is what the men discuss while Peggy gets the vapors:

RKV said...

"The United States abandoned half of Europe to the Soviets" - my ass. It took a generational struggle to end Russian imperialism (socialism was only a maskirovka for empire) ending under President Reagan. And we and our allies managed it without nuclear war. How much of our blood and treasure do we owe to other countries Stuart? We helped end both the Japanese Empire and the Nazi Reich, at a huge cost. That others paid more in absolute and relative terms is true - at least the Polish soldiers died on their feet and inflicted some cost on the Germans - as opposed to sitting at home crying waiting to be taken to the camps. Or in the case of many Frenchmen, actively colluding with their invaders.

You might just re-read the text of George Washington's final address on the subject of "foreign entanglements" for some input.
American self-interest is our first priority, not being the world's policeman. And yes our politicians change policy. So be it. "Elections have consequences" said arguably the worst president in our history.

The alternative is to not have elections change policy, which is worse still.

Christopher B said...

RKV - Look up what Victor Davis Hanson has said recently about the USSR and the Second World War. We gave the USSR trucks and attack planes but no strategic bombers. Their purpose in the war was too kill as many German soldiers as they could so the other Allies didn't have to. The price FDR, Churchill, and HST paid for that was Soviet control of Eastern Europe.