Politics, et Cetera
A publication from The Political Forum, LLC
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
They Said It:
It was still possible in 1941 to walk through the White House gate and into the grounds without showing a pass or answering any questions, since the White House was not yet considered much different from any other public building in the city. Until a few years before there had been no gates at all, and on summer days government employees had lounged on the White House lawns eating picnic lunches out of paper sacks . . . .
Six months into the war, there were so many new agencies, all known by their initials, nobody could keep them straight. The OPC was the Office of Petroleum Coordination. Its director was Harold Ickes, also the Secretary of the Interior. At a press conference he was asked about a new OPC ruling and he said, testily, “I can’t speak for the OPC.” There was a pause, stirrings of surprise and confusion among the reporters, until an aide whispered in Ickes’s ear that he was the director of the OPC. “I’m all balled up on all these initials,” Ickes explained. So were many others. By now there were the WPB, OPA, WMC, BEW, NWLB, ODT, WSA, OCD, OEM and many others. One office, issuing wartime regulations for plumbers, was the PWPGSJSISIACWPB.”
David Brinkley, Washington Goes To War, 1988.
THE VA AND THE END OF HISTORY?
The Veterans Administration scandal is damning. It is devastating. It is, above all else, demonstrative. This is what government-run health care looks like. In the absence of serious, market-oriented change, this is our future: long waits; people dying awaiting treatment; fraud; cover-ups; and lies to the families of loved ones, to government overseers, and to the public more generally. Under Obamacare – or worse yet, the more comprehensive system that may follow Obamacare – the entire health care system will operate like the VA. All of which is to say that this scandal may be the best thing that has ever happened to health care in the United States, in that it clearly and inarguably demonstrates the massive shortcomings of one-size-fits-all government health care and will thereby further tarnish the Big Government brand, leading eventually to the end of said Big Government.
Or so we are told.
Conservatives of various stripes are convinced that this scandal at the VA is just what we have been waiting for, precisely the proof that we and they need once and for all to stick the proverbial knife deep into the chest of liberalism. Socialized medicine doesn’t work. Big Government doesn’t work. It will kill us all, and not at some point in the future, but today! The screenwriter and author Roger L. Simon summed up the thinking late last week when he put it this way:
Many have wondered about Barack Obama’s prolonged silence concerning the disastrous situation at the Veterans Administration hospitals and then his odd detached demeanor (well, maybe not that odd for him) when he finally did discuss it at a press conference.
The answer is simple. His lifetime dream of a free public (single payer) healthcare system for all just disintegrated in front of him. Forget the wildly ambitious and pervasive “Affordable Care Act,” the government couldn’t even handle the health of our wounded servicemen, acknowledged for years to be by far the group most deserving of medical attention in our country. With veterans dying while waiting lists are falsified, it’s hard to see government healthcare as anything but incompetent, disgraceful and quite possibly criminal.
Government has failed utterly. . . .
We are in an interesting moment with so much of the liberal-left ethic disintegrating around them. The next couple of years will be historical — one way or the other.
Make no mistake, we agree wholeheartedly about the inability of Big Government to do even the smallest tasks. About this, Roger Simon is right. And so is Rand Paul. And so are the rest of the conservatives who have been trying to make the case that the scandal at the VA is bigger than just a few dead veterans and a bumbling department Secretary. But so what? Has anyone really been waiting for proof of government’s incompetence? Has there really not been ample evidence of this incompetence before now?
Of course there has. And anyone who wasn’t convinced of this simple truth before the VA scandal isn’t going to be convinced of it now. And that’s the point here. Yes, the VA scandal proves that government doesn’t work. But the expectation that this proof will lead to a widespread change of heart on the matter is pure fantasy. When all is said and done, outside of the families of a handful of prematurely deceased veterans, this scandal will fade into the next one, as did the last one. And as for its lasting impact on public policy and on the West’s broader ideological debate, that will be exactly nothing.
It is worth recalling that it has now been a full quarter century since Francis Fukuyama wrote the article that became the book that became the geo-political phenomenon, “The End of History.” “What we may be witnessing,” Fukuyama wrote, “is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”
The Cold War was essentially over. The World Wars against ancient empires and fascist neo-imperialism were also over. The world had been through its trials and tribulations and had, by and large, settled on an ideal form of governance, one that emphasized democracy, self-determination, liberty, and, of course, capitalistic, consumerist economics. In the book version of the argument, Fukuyama put it this way:
It is not the mark of provincialism but of cosmopolitanism to recognize that there has emerged in the last few centuries something like a true global culture, centering around technologically driven economic growth and the capitalist social relations necessary to produce and sustain it. Societies which have sought to resist this uniﬁcation, from Tokugawajapan and the Sublime Porte, to the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, Burma, and Iran, have managed to ﬁght rearguard actions that have lasted only for a generation or two. Those that were not defeated by superior military technology were seduced by the glittering material world that modern natural science has created. While not every country is capable of becoming a consumer society in the near future, there is hardly a society in the world that does not embrace the goal itself.
The failures of Communism, which were the principal inspiration for Fukuyama’s thesis, were far greater, far deadlier, and far more substantive than anything involved in the Veterans Administration scandal. At this point, fewer than 50 deaths can be linked conclusively to the VA wait-list scandal. That number is likely to grow, of course. And any such death is indeed a personal tragedy. More to the point, any death from bureaucratic misfeasance is one too many. Still, the death toll from Communism stands at well over 100 million. Stalin and Lenin were responsible for tens of millions of deaths between them. Heck, the last great Communist screw-up, the nuclear accident at Chernobyl killed more people than have been verifiably linked to “death by bureaucracy” in the VA scandal.
Does that minimize the pain caused by the VA or mitigate the government’s non-response to it? Of course not. The scandal is as real and it is tragic. Heads should roll.
That said, the notion that this a great, ideology-transforming moment is patently absurd. Communism failed. It failed conspicuously and unquestionably. Its erstwhile practitioners fled from it as quickly as they possibly could. Statues of Lenin were destroyed. Towns were renamed as rejections of Communist triumphalism. The world changed because of Communism’s failure. And Fukuyama, among countless others, thought that it had changed for good.
It is also worth recalling, we think, that it has now been 18-plus years since Bill Clinton, the epitome of Baby Boomer liberalism, conceded ideological defeat and declared that “the era of big government is over.” The dream was dead. Long live the new dream of capitalist self-empowerment. Or as Clinton continued:
As we move into the era of balanced budgets and smaller Government, we must work in new ways to enable people to make the most of their own lives. We are helping America’s communities, not with more bureaucracy but with more opportunities. Through our successful empowerment zones and community development banks, we’re helping people to find jobs, to start businesses.
Clinton’s declaration, of course, took place in the post-Communist milieu, as government’s crimes and atrocities were being fully revealed, as its costs were being fully calculated, and as its incompetence was being fully acknowledged. He and his big government plans had just been dealt a serious, presidency-threatening blow. The horrors of government – major and minor – were undeniable and were undeniably on the minds of voters. And consummate politician that he was, Clinton took the hint.
Over the course of Bill Clinton’s second term, of course, government growth slowed. At the same time government revenues increased because of economic growth, while defense spending shrank due to the so-called peace dividend. By the time he left office, Clinton presided over the nation’s first budget surpluses in some three decades, since Nixon’s first year in office.
The era of Big Government was surely over. The collapse of Communism had soured the world on statist ideologies. Meanwhile, the Clinton-Gingrich partnership demonstrated to Americans that fiscal responsibility coupled with growth-oriented policies could keep their nation off the path to socialist destruction, off the road to serfdom, if you will. All of which is to say that Fukuyama looked prescient, while Big Government looked like a thing of the past.
Only it wasn’t. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
A scant eight months into George W. Bush’s second term, America was attacked. And America responded by going to war. And war, as we have noted before in these pages, is to government what Miracle-Gro is to houseplants.
Less than a month after the attacks, Bush had established an Office of Homeland Security. Roughly 13 months after that, the office Bush had created via executive order was established as a formal cabinet department by act of law. The new department commanded a budget of nearly $100 million/year. And just like that, Big Government was back. For what it is worth, we were not overly enthusiastic about the new department. We put it this way.
We have no strong feelings one way or the other about the creation of the new homeland security department. In the final analysis, the President has the responsibility for protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism, and if he feels that the tools that he needs to accomplish this purpose should be arranged in a certain way in order for him to proceed, then we see no reason to argue, so long as the changes are reasonable.
Every manager of people has had to deal with such requests at one time or another. “Sally can’t work unless she has a plant in her office.” “Carl needs a window with a view.” “Bob likes to have new pencils, sharpened and placed in a row.” “Esmerelda wants a goat.”
One advantage of responding with: “So get it for them and tell them to get to work,” is that they have fewer excuses if their subsequent output is “below expectations,” so to speak. And so it will be with Bush and his terrorist busters.
In short, we are much less concerned about how the tools are arranged, than we are about the tools themselves and the skill of the craftsmen who are using them. For example, we can’t help but wonder whether the executive branch needs access to every American’s underwear drawer, or if this is just a case of hyperthyroidic bureaucrats taking advantage of September 11 to chip away at some pesky little Constitutional impediments that make their jobs more difficult.
We believe that if the administration had the imagination and the courage to define the list of potential terrorists a little more narrowly than the entire citizen base, it could accomplish a lot more terrorist catching with a lot less intrusion into the rights of its citizens.
Another way of saying this might be that if someone must give up sacred constitutional rights on the alter of this war, then perhaps someone should consider an approach that might not be quite so egalitarian but more effective. These are, of course, fancy ways of saying “Why the hell don’t you guys stop this insane pretense against racial profiling and go after the people, as you would in any crime, who are the most likely suspects? . . .
Four short years later, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid led Big Government liberalism back to power in Congress. And two years after that, Big Government had found its savior, the One we had been waiting for, the paragon of liberal values (such as they are). As the liberal George Packer put it in The New Yorker immediately after Barack Obama’s election, the “new liberal moment” had arrived:
Barack Obama’s decisive defeat of John McCain is the most important victory of a Democratic candidate since 1932. It brings to a close another conservative era, one that rose amid the ashes of the New Deal coalition in the late sixties, consolidated its power with the election of Ronald Reagan, in 1980, and immolated itself during the Presidency of George W. Bush. Obama will enter the White House at a moment of economic crisis worse than anything the nation has seen since the Great Depression; the old assumptions of free-market fundamentalism have, like a charlatan’s incantations, failed to work, and the need for some “new machinery” is painfully obvious. But what philosophy of government will characterize it?
The answer was given three days before the election by a soldier and memoirist of the Reagan revolution, Peggy Noonan, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Something new is happening in America. It is the imminent arrival of a new liberal moment.” The Journal’s editorial page anticipated with dread “one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven’t since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s.” The Journal’s nightmare scenario of America under President Obama and a Democratic Congress included health care for all, a green revolution, expanded voting rights, due process for terror suspects, more powerful unions, financial regulation, and a shift of the tax burden upward. (If the editorial had had more space, full employment and the conquest of disease might have made the list.)
For the first time since the Johnson Administration, the idea that government should take bold action to create equal opportunity for all citizens doesn’t have to explain itself in a defensive mumble. That idea is ascendant in 2008 because it answers the times. These political circumstances, even more than the election of the first black American to the highest office, make Obama’s victory historic.
Think about that for a moment, if you will – or if your constitution will allow it. Just a scant 17 years after the collapse of the world’s biggest and most destructive experiment in statism, and an even scanter 12 years after the previous liberal hero had won reelection by throwing liberalism under the proverbial bus, Big Government was nonetheless back. And not only was it back, but it was “ascendant,” which is to say that it was back and it was gloating.
How, exactly, did this happen? Over the course of the previous generation, Americans had witnessed the utter and complete collapse of Big Government. They’d seen the hype turn to sorrow, the fantasy turn to tragedy, the tolerance turn to mass murder. They had seen it all. And yet, here they were, voting to do it all over again.
The fact of the matter is that neither popular democracy nor Leftism is a subject that has any connection whatsoever to reality. Experience, history, reason, and judgment are topics foreign to the democratic mob. This, of course, is why the Founders had the good sense to attempt to temper the passions of the mob with timeless and unchanging institutions. It is also why the Left has, since the French Revolution, tried to undermine and destabilize those institutions.
Leftism is an ideology of feeling, of emotion, and of immediacy. It is a creed devoid of memory and bereft of shame. When confronted by the VA scandal, conservatives insist that the fault lies in the nature of Big Government. Liberals, by contrast, see things differently, choosing to ignore the fraud, the deceit, and the remaining assorted turpitude, preferring instead to double down of government and to insist that the only problem with Big Government is that it isn’t really big enough to do the things that must be done. The VA, you see, doesn’t have enough money to handle its case load. It doesn’t have enough support from Congress. It doesn’t have as massive a budget as it needs to treat all veterans. And therefore, the problem is not with the mechanism of government, but with its funding. Or as Bernie Sanders, the socialist Senator from Vermont and the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee recently put it:
I’m Chairman of the Veterans Committee. Let me tell you some news. The Veterans Administration provides very high quality health care. Period. It’s not perfect. It is good quality health care, according to the veterans themselves, and according to a number of independent surveys that have looked at it. It’s not perfect. It runs 151 centers. Today 200,000 veterans get health care through the VA. There is right now, as we speak, a concerted effort to undermine the VA. So the point is, you have government entity itself, Social Security, enormously popular, Medicare, enormously popular, Postal Service, popular, VA popular. What are the problems? The problems are, is, that all of these are large, governmental institutions and you have folks out there now, Koch Brothers and others, who want to radically change the nature of society, and either make major cuts in all of these institutions, or maybe do away with them entirely.
Problems, shmoblems, in short. The VA is awesome, and if you don’t believe it – LOOK! A SQUIRREL (wearing a Koch Brothers t-shirt)!
What all of this means, then, in the end, is that the Veterans Administration scandal will quickly go away. The Left won’t even acknowledge the problem, and the voters won’t even remember it. Is the scandal bad news? Sure. Is it a crisis? Maybe. But whatever it is, it’s not the existential threat to liberalism some conservatives believe. Existential crises of liberalism don’t exist. Or at least they don’t exist for long. The people are outraged for a moment. And then they move on. Half a moment later, they don’t even recall being outraged, much less at what.
History doesn’t end, you see. People just forget about it. And quickly.
Post Script: Liberalism will end when the money runs out, and not a moment sooner. To paraphrase the poet: That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
THE CRIMEAN PRECEDENT.
There is an old adage in the study of foreign affairs that says that if your enemy tells you he is going to kill you, believe him.
Unfortunately, this old adage is often forgotten, at least where American analysis of geopolitics is concerned. For years, Osama bin Laden told us – in word and in deed – that he was going to kill as many of us as possible, and yet our intelligence and security analysts acted as if he did not mean it, as if he couldn’t possibly mean such a thing. Until he did it, that is. Likewise, Vladimir Putin has been telling us for years that he intends to remake Russia into a great power, to regain its past glory, and to reassert its authority over Eastern Europe and Central Asia. And yet the Obama administration was caught off-guard when Putin did precisely that in Crimea and Ukraine more broadly. If past behavior is the greatest indicator of future behavior, then declarations of future behavior certainly run a close second. Or, to put it more bluntly: pay attention!
In the weeks since Putin and Russia invaded Crimea, this bit of ancient wisdom has suddenly become relevant. Indeed, it is now more important than ever to take people at their word, and to factor that word into any plans for future action. Warnings, when given, must be heeded.
Take, for example, the latest and most serious global confrontation outside of the Russia-Ukraine mess. Three weeks ago, Chinese ships entered Vietnamese waters – or at least what the Vietnamese consider their waters. The Vietnamese were, needless to say, unhappy. And they responded accordingly. As the New York Times reported:
Tensions in the South China Sea intensified Wednesday as Vietnamese vessels confronted Chinese ships that were working to place an oil rig off Vietnam’s coast, and Vietnamese officials claimed that their ships had been rammed by the Chinese vessels three days earlier.
Vietnam said the Chinese ships also fired water cannons at its flotilla in the encounter on Sunday, injuring Vietnamese sailors, although Chinese officials did not confirm the incident. The skirmishing highlighted the hair-trigger tensions in the region as Asian nations try to contain China’s more aggressive posture in pursuing maritime claims in the South China Sea.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: how can this possibly have anything to do with the “lessons of Crimea?” The Chinese have been flexing their muscles all over the region for years now, threatening not just Vietnam, but Japan, and the Philippines as well with territorial confiscation. Indeed, the Chinese confrontation with Japan over the Senkaku Islands long predates the Crimean/Ukraine business and has been a geopolitical flashpoint for at least two years. So again, what does this have to do with the lessons of Crimea? And exactly what warnings are the Chinese supposedly giving?
Aha, we say. If that’s what you’re wondering, then you’re looking at all of this from the wrong perspective. This doesn’t have anything to with Chinese and what they’re telling the world. Rather, it has to with the United States and the message that it is sending friends and enemies alike.
As you may recall, back in March, when the Crimea crisis was at its peak, we noted that the stakes there were far higher than almost anyone in the American government was willing to concede. The damage done by Russia’s annexation of Crimea far surpassed the seeming insignificance of that tiny ethnic-Russian swath of land. Indeed, Russia’s actions threatened to destroy the entire post-war global order. Or as we put it then:
Simply by annexing Crimea, Russia has broken one of the longest-standing and heretofore most revered rules of the post-war global order. It took territory previously belonging to another country and made it her own, which is expressly prohibited by international law and, more to the point, is an act that was and is repudiated by all major states, even the Soviet Union itself. Until now.
The 1975 Helsinki Accords, an international agreement signed by some 35 countries, including the United States and the Soviet Union, codified the post-war prohibition against the annexation of territory. Specifically, Article III of the accords states that:
The participating States regard as inviolable all one another’s frontiers as well as the frontiers of all States in Europe and therefore they will refrain now and in the future from assaulting these frontiers.
Accordingly, they will also refrain from any demand for, or act of, seizure and usurpation of part or all of the territory of any participating State….
In short, this is no trifling matter. The eggs have been broken, so to speak. The only question now is the makeup of the resulting omelet. Going forward, it would appear that more and more serious violations of the residual order are likely to occur, given the cost-benefit scheme confirmed by this incident. This time, Russia will get what it wants, and it will cost almost nothing. That’s a pretty good trade. And others – or Putin himself in other contexts – will try to make the same trade, over and over, until the old order is completely destroyed.
Interestingly, the ones who paid attention to all of this in March were not necessarily the Chinese, who, as we noted, have been banging around Southeast Asia for years, but the Vietnamese, who saw what happened in Crimea and decided that the same thing was NOT going to happen to them. And so when the Chinese showed up in Vietnamese waters, the Vietnamese defended themselves, unwilling to wait for the slow-footed Americans or the even slower-footed “global community” to save them.
We should note that Vietnam and China are no strangers to conflict. The two tangled over this very territory in both 1974 and 1988. And they fought a border-war in 1979, which left 10,000 Chinese dead and likely at least many on the Vietnamese side.
Of course, all of that was before China emerged as near-superpower, and certainly the most powerful nation in Asia. Under normal circumstances, Vietnam likely would have approached the Chinese with a little more caution, knowing that it has neither the air nor naval forces to do battle with China. But as has become our refrain during the Obama presidency, these are not normal circumstances. And the Vietnamese know it well.
Last Friday, Admiral Samuel Locklear warned that both sides in the Sino-Vietnamese dispute needed to back away from the proverbial ledge and show some restraint. “I have serious concerns,” Locklear warned. “The risk of miscalculation, I think, is high and we encourage them both to exercise restraint.” Unfortunately – and largely because of American inaction in Crimea – Vietnam doesn’t exactly have that luxury.
In its write-up of the Locklear warnings, the Associated Press suggested that the Americans are contemplating closer ties with Vietnam in order to keep the peace in the region. “Analysts have said,” the AP reported, “that countries confronted by China in disputed waters, like Vietnam, may seek a deeper security alliance with Washington.”
Now we are not sure who these “analysts” are. But it is pretty clear they are delusional.
The wire service goes in to quote Adm. Locklear giving the standard, over-cautious, mealey-mouthed American response: “We look forward to exploring opportunities to expand our partnership with nations such as Vietnam as well, but Vietnam is among many.” Compare that, if you will, with the response proffered by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe didn’t tell the Chinese to be careful. He didn’t send them a strongly worded letter or warn them about flexible “red lines.” And he certainly didn’t say that he and his people were looking forward to finding opportunities to expand partnerships with Vietnam. Rather, he cut right to the chase, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid out an assertive foreign policy agenda, saying he hoped to accelerate maritime aid to Vietnam amid its territorial standoff with China and host Vladimir Putin this year despite the Russian president’s isolation from the West.
Beijing’s “unilateral drilling activities” for oil in waters claimed also by Hanoi have led to “heightening of tensions,” Mr. Abe told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Friday. “We will never tolerate the change of status quo by force or coercion,” added the Japanese leader, who has assiduously courted Southeast Asian leaders during the past year and offered himself as a counterweight to China’s muscle-flexing. . . .
Mr. Abe’s remarks came a day before tensions flared anew in Japan’s dispute with China over a small group of islands in the East China Sea as well as the surrounding airspace. Twice on Saturday, Chinese fighter jets flew perilously close to Japanese reconnaissance craft, leading both governments to file protests. Japan said China’s actions were “meant to intimidate,” while China said Japan had “carried out dangerous actions, in serious violation of international laws.”
The weekend exchange underscored a theme of Mr. Abe’s administration — that the region around Japan is increasingly dangerous, and that Tokyo has no choice but to embrace a more muscular foreign policy in response. . . .
Mr. Abe has also extended modest, but symbolically significant, maritime aid to countries facing off with China. In December, Japan provided 10 patrol vessels to the Philippine Coast Guard, and it announced talks that same month for similar aid to Vietnam. . . .
In the interview, Mr. Abe said he had met Vietnam’s deputy prime minister, Vu Duc Dam, the previous day and was told that Vietnam “would certainly like to request the provision of the patrol boats as soon as possible.” Mr. Abe said he, too, wants to accelerate the process.
As it turns out, Japan too understands what some are calling the “Crimean Precedent.” Shinzo Abe understands that although American troops may still remain stationed on Japanese territory, Japanese national defense will likely be up to the Japanese in the medium-to-long term. If last five-plus years have taught Abe and the Japanese anything, it is that they must listen closely when both their friends and enemies inform them of their plans. And while the Chinese plans have been clear for some time, the Americans’ plans have only come into clear focus over the last few months, since Barack Obama allowed the Helsinki Accords to be violated without even batting an eyelash.
Back in January, in our foreign policy forecast piece, we predicted that “China and Japan will NOT go to war this year, but the Japanese will begin preparing for such a war, which is to say that a nuclear arms race in the Far East is all but inevitable.” After the Crimean Precedent, we are even more inclined to think that this will be the case. China, like Russia, wants to be a regional and, eventually, a global hegemon. Japan, by contrast, doesn’t want that to happen. And it will do whatever it has to in order to prevent it.
What we didn’t predict and what we couldn’t have foreseen is that Japan would take on China not only on its own behalf, but on behalf of the rest of the region as well. Abe understands that Vietnam’s problems with China are, in the final analysis, Japan’s problems as well. Likewise the Philippines’ problems with China, Malaysia’s problems with China, Indonesia’s problems with China, and so on.
For the last four hundred years, the Anglo-American navies have ensured the freedom and safety of the seas. Until now.
When Barack Obama did nothing to stop Vladimir Putin in Crimea, he told the world that the party was over, that the post-war American guarantee of self-determination, regional integrity, and free trade routes and shipping lanes was over. The Chinese, of course, had assumed as much already and had, in any case, resolved to test American resolve. But now, the Vietnamese too are taking the Americans at their word. And so are the Japanese. It was inevitable, we suppose, given the recurrent choruses of “America, come home.”
As Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel noted the other day, the 21st century, “new world order” is currently being built. Contrary to Hagel’s implication, though, this order is being built without American input; indeed is being built in expectation of American absence. Hagel described this development as “hopeful.” We doubt it. In fact, if we had to choose an adjective, we’d be more likely to settle on “bloody.”
But then, unlike Hagel, we’re taking our friends, our enemies, and our President at their word.
C’est la guerre.