Politics, et Cetera

A publication from The Political Forum, LLC

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

They Said It:

I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of man.  Harry [Hopkins] says he’s not and that he doesn’t want anything but security for his country, and I think if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Ambassador William C. Bullitt, as recounted in Bullitt, William C., “How We Won the War and Lost the Peace,” Life, August 30, 1948. 

 

THE ROOTS OF THE IRAQ DISASTER.

Today, as Iraq falls apart, countless observers are trying to explain exactly what happened and how a country that seemed stable enough just five short years ago has come undone so quickly, so violently, and so grievously.  Part of this process, of course, is the task of assigning blame to some individual.  And on this count, it seems, nearly everyone has an opinion.

Some blame George W. Bush for upsetting the delicate balance of power in multiethnic Iraq, not merely toppling the one man who held the country together, but doing so with no substantive plan for dealing with the country afterward.

Others blame Barack Obama, who inherited a largely stable Iraq, proceeded to ignore it, and then agreed to withdraw American troops prematurely, leaving the hard-won, if fragile peace to collapse.  According to this version, Bush’s invasion overthrew Saddam, Petraeus’s “surge” stifled the Sunni rebellion, and Obama’s negligence led to collapse and thus wasted the sacrifices of tens of thousands of American soldiers who had fought so hard to give the Iraqis a chance.

Still others blame a third party, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, for example; or President George H.W. Bush, who started the whole business of America’s involvement in Iraq; or Syrian dictator Basher Assad, whose civil war has spilled over the border into Iraq.

Of course, none of these individuals is blameless.  But we would argue that the ultimate culprit is Woodrow Wilson, whose fatuous dream of “making the world safe for Democracy” set off a long chain of events that led directly to the mess in Iraq.

Let us explain.

This Saturday, June 28th, is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, an event to which we have, for years, referred as the “that point in time when . . . the unraveling began in earnest.”  The Archduke was killed on a visit to Sareajevo, a Bosnian city but a hub of Serbian irredentist activity.  He and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot by Gavrilo Princip, one of six potential assassins armed and trained by Serbian military intelligence officials.

As any schoolboy knows, the assassination led, in rather short order, to World War I – “the Great War.”  And the Great War led, in turn, to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Russia Empire, and the virtual collapse of the proverbial “old order” throughout most of the Western world.  What H.G. Wells called “the war to end war” destroyed many of the illusions in which the “educated and sophisticated” westerners had come to believe – about war, peace, civilization, God, man, you name it, really.  It has, therefore, been dubbed “the war that changed everything.”  Margaret MacMillan, the warden of St. Anthony’s College at Oxford University put it this way in a Wall Street Journal article last week:

The conflict changed all the countries that took part in it.  Governments assumed greater control over society and have never entirely relinquished it.  Old regimes collapsed, to be replaced by new political orders.  In Russia, czarist autocracy was succeeded by a communist one, with huge consequences for the rest of the century.

The scale and destructiveness of the war also raised issues — many of which we still grapple with today — and spread new political ideas . . .

The war had brutalized European society, which had grown accustomed during the largely peaceful 19th century to think that peace was the normal state of affairs.  After 1918, Europeans were increasingly willing to resort to other sorts of force, from political assassinations to street violence, and to seek radical solutions to their problems . . .

The war had made many Europeans simply give up on their own societies.  Before 1914, they could take pride in Europe’s power and prosperity, in the knowledge that it dominated the world through its economic and military strength.  They could boast that European civilization was superior to all others.  Now they were left with a shattered continent that had spent down its wealth and weakened itself, perhaps mortally.  As the great French thinker and poet Paul Valery said in 1922, “something deeper has been worn away than the renewable parts of the machine.”

Church attendance plummeted, but night clubs were jammed by those who could afford them.  Cocaine stopped being a medicine and became a recreational drug along with alcohol.

Of course, all of the changes that Professor MacMillan cites are valid.  But she misses the most important change that World War I brought about.  And that was that the overwhelming brutality of the conflict led to the notion, championed by Woodrow Wilson, that the United States should take the lead in “making the world safe for Democracy,” by forming a global government.

The vehicle that Wilson proposed to achieve this noble end was the League of Nations, which the United States did not join, thanks to the fact there were, in those bygone days, a few true conservatives around in the U.S. Senate who prevented America’s participation.  But the idea did not die.  In fact, it gave birth to an organization called the “League of Free Nations,” which boasted among its leading members Eleanor Roosevelt and John Foster Dulles.  Among other things, the League advocated the sacrifice of American sovereignty to a “universal association of nations based upon the principle that the security of each shall rest upon the strength of the whole.”

Nothing came this, of course, but in December 1941, at a time when Hitler’s Luftwaffe was targeting civilians in massive night-time bombing raids over London, Dulles, who would go on to be Secretary of State in the Eisenhower administration, appeared on the world stage once again as an advocate of a global government.

This time the vehicle was a group called a “Commission for a Just and Durable Peace.” which consisted of over a hundred representatives from the various Protestant communities that made up the Federal Council of Churches.  Among the will-o’-the-wisp proposals advanced by this group were the following:

Strong immediate limitations on national sovereignty.
International control of all armies and navies.
Ultimately, a world government of delegated powers.
A universal system of money.
A “democratically controlled” international bank.

It was accompanied by a lengthy declaration, which included the following.

For at least a generation we have held preponderant economic power in the world, and with it the capacity to influence decisively the shaping of world events.  It should be a matter of shame and humiliation to us that actually the influences shaping the world have largely been irresponsible forces.  Our own positive influence has been impaired because of concentration on self and on our short-range material gains . . . If the future is to be other than a repetition of the past, the United States must accept the responsibility for constructive action commensurate with its power and opportunity.

An article from the March 16, 1942 issue of Time Magazine said this about the group’s proposal.

Among the 375 delegates who drafted the program were 15 bishops of five denominations, seven seminary heads (including Yale, Chicago, Princeton, Colgate-Rochester), eight college and university presidents (including Princeton’s Harold W. Dodds), practically all the ranking officials of the Federal Council and a group of well-known laymen, including John R. Mott, Irving Fisher and Harvey S. Firestone Jr.  “Intellectually,” said Methodist Bishop Ivan Lee Holt of Texas, “this is the most distinguished American church gathering I have seen in 30 years of conference-going.”

The meeting showed its temper early by passing a set of 13 “requisite principles for peace” submitted by Chairman Foster Dulles and his inter-church Commission to Study the Bases of a Just and Durable Peace.  These principles, far from putting all the onus on Germany or Japan bade the U.S. give thought to the shortsighted selfishness of its own policies after World War I, declared that the U.S. would have to turn over a new leaf if the world is to enjoy lasting peace [emphasis added].

Now the fundamental problem with this was, of course, that this was a truly insane notion, if for no other reason than the overwhelming evidence, as demonstrated by the entire history of mankind, that man is a competitive, combative, and restless beast, as unfit for so large and impersonal a yoke as world government as a tiger is to the bit and harness.  In fact, one cannot help but wonder into which of the three categories, described in the classic 1841 book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, would its author Charles MacKay have included the frenzy that this crowd inflicted upon mankind.  The choices are national delusions, peculiar follies, and philosophical delusions.

Of course, some follies have the happy consequence of keeping foolish people busy with harmless tasks, when they might otherwise present a danger to both themselves and others.  Drafting balanced budget plans for the U.S. government, would be one example.  This, however, was not one of those.  This was a form of insanity that was enormously damaging not simply to the United States but to all of mankind.  And it lived on long after the threat from Russian communism had died, transferring from generation to generation of American leftists like a dreadful hereditary disease.

Indeed, Franklin Roosevelt’s obsession with the notion of global government was as strong as Wilson’s, if not stronger.  His problem – the fly in his ointment, if you will – was the fact that his fantasies about benevolent world government and changing the nature of man were belied by the very existence of his most critical ally in the effort to defeat the Nazis, a creature who gave new and terrifying meaning to Palutus’s aphorism homo homini lupus, the definitive wolf, Josef Stalin.  Roosevelt did his best – with the aid of Stalin’s spies – to convince himself and the world that Uncle Joe was simply misunderstood and was interested in the same things that all world leaders are interested in, namely security and prosperity for his people.  The late great political historian Amos Perlmutter put it as follows in his classic In Making the World Safe for Democracy, A Century of Wilsonianism and Its Totalitarian Challengers:

[Roosevelt’s] vision for a postwar world was neo-Wilsonian, totally at odds with reality.  He would help create a new international order, presided over in an equal partnership by the two emerging superpowers, the United States and the USSR, and buttressed by the newly created world organization, the United Nations.

FDR’s wartime diplomacy, geared to his vision of the postwar world, was fueled by what could almost be called a desperate desire to fulfill the dream that the Soviets would be America’s postwar partner.  This required an amazing ignorance, a willingness to ignore past and present facts, and a complete misunderstanding of the Soviet system and of Stalin.  FDR was right that the United States and the Soviet Union would be the postwar superpowers, but he was absolutely and disastrously wrong about the nature of their future relationship.  According to George Kennan, “The Russian involvement in this struggle is not the result of any concern for the principles underlying the Allied cause . . .”

The world he envisioned and so desperately wanted to create never materialized and, more important, never had a chance of materializing because it rested on a false premise, buttressed by willful ignorance.  FDR did not have a glimmer that the pursuit of his vision, and the concessions he made to it, would result, not in a partnership with Stalin and the USSR, but rather in its opposite, in the onset of the Cold War that would last almost half a century.  The Yalta Conference, according to Kennan, “was the last of the summit meetings still outwardly dominated, at least on the American side, by the cultivation of this essentially fictitious and misleading scenario.”

And so it came to pass that Roosevelt laid the groundwork for an American post-war foreign policy based on two incontrovertible fictions, that man’s nature could be changed, thereby ending war, and that Josef Stalin, of all people, could be trusted as a “partner” in the pursuit of this dream of altruistic global government.  Roosevelt, of course, died before this longstanding leftist dream could be realized, though, which is to say that the responsibility for consummating the dream fell to his successor, Harry Truman.

For a variety of reasons, Truman was forced quickly and conclusively to abandon Roosevelt’s pipedream with respect to Stalin and the Soviet Union.  Among other things, he was made aware of the fact that two of the men most responsible for crafting the mechanisms for post-war global government, Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss, were Russian spies.

Still, Truman was a devoted New-Dealer and he kept the global government dream alive by declaring proudly (if dubiously) that the charter of the new United Nations would ensure that  “every member is bound to refrain in its international relations from the threat, or use, of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” and “to the principle that planning, initiating or waging a war of aggression is a crime against humanity for which individuals as well as states shall be tried before the bar of international justice.”

Of course, this was garbage, and “Give ‘em hell Harry” knew it.  As such, his backup plan was the so-called Truman Doctrine, in which the President of the United States pledged that he and his country would forever seek to right the world’s wrongs and to protect the innocent from the powerful, or as Truman put it, “It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”

Needless to say, this “Doctrine” changed the entire face of post-war American foreign policy.  It led directly to the Senate’s passage of the Vandenberg Resolution, which, among other things, called for the “progressive development of regional and other collective arrangements for individual and collective self-defense in accordance with the purposes, principles, and provisions of the [United Nations] Charter.”  And this led to the creation of NATO.  Eventually, of course, the Doctrine was used by Truman et al. to justify its response to the invasion of South Korea by North Korea.  United Nations Security Council Resolutions  82 and 83 were passed at Truman’s insistence (and in the face of a Soviet boycott), permitting the United States, under Truman’s direction, to fight a war in the name of peace, rather than in pursuit of victory.  As Truman is quoted in National Security Council Report 68:

Communism was acting in Korea, just as Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese had ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier. I felt certain that if South Korea was allowed to fall, Communist leaders would be emboldened to override nations closer to our own shores. If the Communists were permitted to force their way into the Republic of Korea without opposition from the free world, no small nation would have the courage to resist threat and aggression by stronger Communist neighbors.

In the end, the war in Korea turned out to be a watershed of sorts for the American military.  After the initial North Korean invasion and early American foundering, General Douglas MacArthur engineered the defense of Pusan and the tactically brilliant victory at Inchon, which are credited with turning the tide of the war.  MacArthur was, eventually, authorized to push north, beyond the 38th parallel into North Korea, but was surprised by the involvement, at that point, of Chinese troops.  Long story short, MacArthur viewed to goal of the action in Korea as the destruction of the North Korean army and, the defeat of the Chinese interlopers.  Truman, by contrast, forbade American confrontation of Chinese forces, denied MacArthur’s plans to bomb the bridges on the Yalu River, and eventually “relieved” the General of the Army because of the General’s belief that there is “no substitute for victory.”  In his memoirs, Truman recounted his decision as follows:

This was a most extraordinary statement for a military commander of the United Nations to issue on his own responsibility. It was an act totally disregarding all directives to abstain from any declarations on foreign policy. It was in open defiance of my orders as President and as Commander-in-Chief. This was a challenge to the authority of the President under the Constitution. It also flouted the policy of the United Nations [emphasis added]. By this act MacArthur left me no choice – I could no longer tolerate his insubordination.

In relieving MacArthur, Truman introduced a largely new dynamic to American military strategy, that being the idea that American military force is to be used in only in pursuit of noble, internationally sanctioned ends, in support of indigenous people resisting tyranny, and NOT with the intention of thoroughly destroying the enemy and achieving ultimate and unqualified victory.

In her aforementioned essay on the effects of World War, Margaret Macmillan wrote that “President Wilson was for a peace without retribution and a world in which nations came together for the common good….”  He was, obviously, unable to achieve that goal.  President Truman, on the other hand, made pursuit of that goal the official American policy in Korea, which is to say official American policy throughout the Cold War and beyond.

In his memoirs, George Kennan, the “father of containment” and thus the intellectual wellspring of the Truman Doctrine, complained bitterly that Truman’s application of his ideas was far too broad, far too aggressive, and far too utopian.  Specifically, he noted that the Doctrine’s open-ended idealism led the United States to embrace military intervention (in the name of peace!) too readily and with little consideration for true national interest.  To wit:

Why, then . . . did I take exception to the language of the President’s message?  I took exception to it primarily because of the sweeping nature of the commitments which it implied….

It seemed to me highly uncertain that we would invariably find it in our interests or within our means to extend assistance to countries that found themselves in this extremity.  The mere fact of their being in such a plight was only one of the criteria that had to be taken into account in determining our action….

Throughout the ensuing two decades the conduct of our foreign policy would continue to be bedeviled by people in our own government as well as in other governments who could not free themselves from the belief that all another country had to do, in order to qualify for American aid, was to demonstrate the existence of a Communist threat.

Since almost no country was without a Communist minority, this assumption carried very far.  And as time went on, the firmness of understanding for these distinctions on the part of our own public and governmental establishment appeared to grow weaker rather than stronger.  In the 1960s so absolute would be the value attached, even by people within the government, to the mere existence of a Communist threat, that such a threat would be viewed as calling, in the case of Southeast Asia, for an American response on a tremendous scale, without serious regard even to those main criteria that most of us in 1947 would have thought it natural and essential to apply.

The 1960s, of course, brought the next in America’s great adventures to “help” the world’s less fortunate peoples and to fight war in the name of peace.  This idea that war could – and should – be waged exclusively in a “progressive” or helping capacity took another important step forward in 1969, when the newly inaugurated Richard Nixon began implementing his wartime strategy, that is the “Vietnamization” of the conflict.

As Nixon put it, the long-term “primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense” would henceforth fall to the nations whom the United States was “helping.”  The Americans would provide initial military responses honoring its treaty obligations; they would provide training support, and most of all, supplies to the indigenous armies; and they would, in time, turn over day-to-day operations to these indigenous forces.  All of which is to say that the new policy of the United States military, the “Nixon Doctrine,” codified the U.S. armed forces’ role as global aid workers.

Since Vietnam, the United States has fought three major wars.  The first of these, waged at the direction of the first President Bush, was an operation designed to “aid” the Kuwaiti people by liberating them from the aggression of their neighbor, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.  To justify this action, the Bush administration lobbied for and won United Nations Security Council Resolutions 661 (sanctions against Iraq), 665 (naval blockade pursuant to sanctions), and 678 (authorization to use “all means necessary” to remove Iraqi troops from Kuwait).

In so doing, of course, Bush complied with and abetted the fantasy that only a global governing body could legitimately authorize force against any nation, thereby securing Roosevelt’s legacy.  In waging the campaign, Bush adhered as well to the notion that war should be exclusively defensive.  And although American and British troops pursued retreating Iraqi forces into Iraq, they withdrew quickly.  Bush proudly declared that the war objective had been met, despite the fact that the “enemy” both remained in power and retained the majority of its military assets.  And thus he secured Truman’s legacy as well.

In the 1990’s, Bill Clinton mostly benefited from the much ballyhooed “holiday from history,” which is to say that he was able to serve two full terms in office without having to confront a major foreign policy entanglement.  But that wasn’t for lack of trying.

Clinton wanted desperately both to be seen as a foreign policy luminary and to cement and expand the legacies of Wilson, Roosevelt, and Truman.  And so he actively sought out foreign entanglements which he could use to showcase the American military’s capacity to “help” the poor of the world.  In the seminal article on the Clinton foreign policy, “Foreign Policy as Social Work,” (which led to the seminal book by the same name), our old friend Michael Mandelbaum, the Christian A. Herter Professor and Director of the American Foreign Policy program at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies, cited Clinton National Security Advisor Anthony Lake as follows:

[T]he Clinton interventions were intended to promote American values.

Lake characterized this approach, incorrectly, as “pragmatic neo-Wilsonianism.”  While Woodrow Wilson, like Bill Clinton, favored the spread of democracy, so has every other president since the founding of the republic.  While Wilson sought to promote democracy in Europe to prevent a repetition of World War I, the absence of democracy in Bosnia, Somalia, and Haiti was not going to lead to World War III.  And while Wilson had a formula for spreading democracy — the establishment of sovereign states on the basis of national self-determination — that principle was precisely what the Clinton administration was determined to prevent the Serbs from applying in the Balkans.

Lake himself supplied a better analogy.  “I think Mother Teresa and Ronald Reagan were both trying to do the same thing,” he said in suggesting that the Clinton foreign policy encompassed both, “one helping the helpless, one fighting the Evil Empire.”

As Mandelbaum noted, however, both Lake and his boss were wrong about the Reagan analogy, which is to say that they were using American military might to do no more than cater to the needs of pre-selected, providential communities:

In fact, [Reagan and Mother Teresa] were trying to do different things.  Reagan conducted a traditional foreign policy with a strong ideological overlay.  He was in the business of pursuing the national interest of the United States as he understood it.  Mother Teresa, by contrast, is in the business of saving lives, which is what Lake and his colleagues tried in 1993 to make the cornerstone of American foreign policy.  They tried, and failed, to turn American foreign policy into a branch of social work.

And that brings us, at long last, to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Both of these two wars, begun under President George W. Bush, were initially wars of a more traditional sort, i.e. wars intended to inflict damage upon the enemy and remove him from power.  Somewhere along the roads to Baghdad and Kabul, however, the purpose changed, and once again the American military – the strongest, best trained, best equipped military in human history – found itself serving as a tool of foreign aid.

On the occasion of his second inauguration, George W. Bush gave perhaps the most starry-eyed, fantastical American foreign policy speech since at least Truman and more likely since Wilson.  He declared openly that Wilson’s holy quest to make the world safe for democracy had been transformed into an urgent matter not just of moral purpose but of national purpose as well.

We have seen our vulnerability – and we have seen its deepest source.  For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny – prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder – violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat.  There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.  The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one.  From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth.  Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.

Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers.  Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

Later that same year, Bush declared that the goal of American policy in Iraq and Afghanistan would be to “Vietnamize” those conflicts.   “As we pursue the terrorists,” Bush intoned, “our military is helping to train Iraqi security forces so that they can defend their people and fight the enemy on their own.  Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.”

This process of Vietnamization continued into the Obama administration and has been the de facto American foreign policy for the last decade.  The United States will provide the drones, the intelligence, the weapons, and the training, but as soon as possible, it will bug out and head for home.

Just over two years ago, the inimitable Mark Steyn described the sad but utterly predictable consequences of this policy.  You take a questionable ally, give him weapons and training to use those weapons, and then occupy his homeland with no long-term strategic purpose, and things will all but certainly end badly.  Or as Steyn put it:

Say what you like about Afghans, but they’re admirably straightforward.  The mobs outside the bases enflamed over the latest Western affront to their exquisitely refined cultural sensitivities couldn’t put it any plainer:

“Die, die, foreigners!”

And foreigners do die.  USAF Lieutenant Colonel John Loftis, 44, and Army Major Robert Marchanti II, 48, lost their lives not on some mission out on the far horizon in wild tribal lands in the dead of night but in the offices of the Afghan Interior Ministry.  In a “secure room” that required a numerical code to access.  Gunned down by an Afghan “intelligence officer.”  Who then departed the scene of the crime unimpeded by any of his colleagues.

Some news outlets reported the event as a “security breach.”  But what exactly was breached?  The murderer was by all accounts an employee of the Afghan government, with legitimate rights of access to the building and its secure room, and “liaising” with his U.S. advisers and “mentors” was part of the job.  In Afghanistan, foreigners are dying at the hands of the locals who know them best.  The Afghans trained by Westerners, paid by Westerners, and befriended by Westerners are the ones who have the easiest opportunity to kill them.  It is sufficiently non-unusual that the Pentagon, as is the wont with bureaucracies, already has a term for it: “green-on-blue incidents,” in which a uniformed Afghan turns his gun on his Western “allies.”

So we have a convenient label for what’s happening; what we don’t have is a strategy to stop it — other than more money, more “hearts and minds” for people who seem notably lacking in both….

Today, of course, we’re seeing another consequence of this wretched American policy in Iraq.  As the Islamist terrorists know as ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) rolled toward Baghdad, they encountered the Iraqi army that “stood up” so that the American army could stand down.  And that Iraqi army fled the battlefield.  As they fled, they left behind the weapons, the supplies, the vehicles, and the MONEY, the Americans had made available to them during the Vientamization process.

We are, as a result, treated these days to pictures and reports of American Humvees, tanks, and other weapons being used by the Islamists in Syria, as they wage their war to destroy the regime of Bashar Assad and establish their multinational caliphate.  The Obama administration, for its part, has responded by agreeing to send 300 “advisors” to Iraq, to help fend of the Sunni Islamists.  And we expect that it’s only a matter of time before some of those advisers are killed – and killed with American weapons.  And if the Americans are successful in aiding the Shiite nationalists in fighting the Sunni rebels, then it will only be a matter of time before the Shiites too turn on the Americans and either use American weapons and training to kill them directly or transfer those weapons to the Iranian masters to allow them to do the dirty work.

As the President of the United States and thus the commander-in-chief of the American military, Barack Obama has quite a mess on his hands.  And while this mess is, indeed, partly of his own making, it is not entirely so.  It’s a mess he inherited from George W. Bush, who inherited it from Bill Clinton, who inherited it from George H.W. Bush…etc. etc. ad nauseam.

Above, we blamed Woodrow Wilson for the mess we are in today.  But having said that, we should note that by failing to gain America’s participation in the League of Nations, he almost escaped this blame.   And he would have if Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman had failed as he had to establish a fantasy approach to foreign policy as the American norm.  But they didn’t fail.  And the result was that World War II, the last war that America won, was the last war in which America fought to win, rather than to “make the world safe for democracy,” or whatever.

It is well beyond the scope of our purposes here today to explain just how aberrant this view of foreign policy is in human history.  But it should suffice to say that no country can long expect to wage war for “the good of all mankind” and survive, no matter how strong or how advanced it may be.  Eventually, the less civilized and less delusional men and women of the world will begin to inflict damage on their supposed moral betters.  And at that point, a choice will have to be made:  do we fight to win and survive?  Or do we fight to promote ethereal and dubious moral ends?  George W. Bush failed this test the first time around.  And sadly, we suspect that some American president will get the opportunity to retake the test in the not-too-distant future.  If he fails too, God help us all.

Copyright 2014. The Political Forum. 8563 Senedo Road, Mt. Jackson, Virginia 22842, tel. 402-261-3175, fax 402-261-3175. All rights reserved. Information contained herein is based on data obtained from recognized services, issuer reports or communications, or other sources believed to be reliable. However, such information has not been verified by us, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness, and we are not responsible for typographical errors. Any statements nonfactual in nature constitute only current opinions which are subject to change without notice.