Build That Wall: America v. Castro

 

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Freedom

 

Ding, dong, the witch is dead!

Keeping Things in Perspective

I’ve read a number of editorials reflecting on the life and times of Fidel Castro. They’ve fallen into two camps: moral euphoria at the death of a dictator and a recitation of his crimes; or, the mealy-mouthed moral equivalency game played by those on the left (see Obama, Trudeau, Junker, Corbyn et al.).

To be clear, Castro was a bad guy and any attempt to cover over his crimes by appealing to his good intentions is the sort of deplorable, high-minded elitism that average Joe sees for what it is: baloney.

Then again, we ought to keep Castro’s crimes in perspective: he was a two-bit thug who caused a great deal of trouble for his people and sparked fires in South America and Africa for decades. Given the chance, he may have been a monster on the scale of Mao and Stalin, but even in his own country his tyranny never reached such diabolical heights. He only brushed with global significance on the occasion of the Cuban Missile Crisis—a scheme driven by his boss in Moscow and not even of his own making.

Further, it should be added that Castro’s death is not “the end of an era.” Castro had long been out of circulation, a ghost of a man, and Cuba still labors and suffers under an entrenched, kleptocratic dictatorship created by the late Fidel. We will have more of business as usual.  Continue reading

Kissinger: Realism in Theory

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Say what you will about Clinton, at least she has the sense to pay heed to the demon Kissinger. I may like Bernie’s non-interventionist ways (and that’s about the only thing I like other than the fact that he channels the crazy uncle), but his hating on Nixon’s right hand man is sophomoric at best (Bernie: “Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.”). It is rather amusing: a socialist Jew hating on a socialist-killing Jew. Blood doesn’t run thicker than water, apparently. Continue reading

Donald Nixon: The Bottom Line

 

 

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The other day Trump gave a speech outlining his foreign policy at the National Interest. Short on details, it was strong on instinct. Predictably, the hawks and moralists have gotten into a tizzy. Their monopoly is being challenged by the Republican front-runner and they are panicking that the blustery child that is Trump will convince the mob that the emperor is wearing no clothes. Trillions of dollars, tens of thousands of lives, millions of refugees, and a multitude of wrecked countries: after three decades the war party’s record of liberal internationalism and regime change has not only left the world more unstable and innocents dead, but wasted American blood and treasure. Good intentions indeed. Continue reading

On Student Radicals: Some Thoughts On The Importance Of Reading

 

 

In 1967 George Kennan, elder statesmen and man-of-letters, wondered about the members of the increasingly boisterous, radical Left found on American campuses. A contemplative man like Kennan naturally clashed with such youth and faced their dismissive ire, but his criticism is as apropos as ever. Simply put, student activists need to stop screaming and start reading.
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America’s Foreign Policy: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

 

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“The people who want government’s head to be in the clouds should remember that its feet are mired, understandably but inevitably, in the clay” (George F. Kennan, Around the Cragged Hill, 54-55). 

I am not sure if Kennan ever read the Kybalion, but as Yath00m likes to put it, “The stars will always kiss the feet.” Lofty, ethical ambitions have a place in foreign affairs, but Kennan, the father of America’s Cold War strategy, sees that policymakers by necessity trudge through mud. It is for this reason he writes:

[G]overnment, while worthy of respect, should not be idealized…Its task…is largely to see to it that the ignoble ones are kept under restraint and not permitted to go too far…Its doings are something that should be viewed by the outsider only with a sigh for its unquestionable necessity, and by the participant only with a prayer for forgiveness for the many moral ambiguities it requires him to accept and for the distortions of personality it inflicts upon him.

—Kennan, Around the Cragged Hill, 54, 58. 

This idea of necessity will return.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Walter McDougall writes in his book Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1777 that American foreign policy can be understood through the lens of Sergio Leone’s classic The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. While the left emphasizes The Bad (the slaughter of native Americans, enslavement of Africans, a predatory war against Mexico, the interment and nuking of the Japanese, and economic imperialism [so called]), the right emphasizes the The Good (FDR’s Atlantic Charter, the defeat of heinous regimes in Germany and Japan, and victory over Soviet tyranny). Those who see America as The Bad tend to believe that America ought to flagellate itself for past crimes.  Advocates of America The Good tend to advocate their country’s forceful moral leadership of “the free world” (see George W. Bush and almost the entirety of the current Republican presidential candidates).

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9/11 and Pearl Harbor: Getting our Tails “Whacked Off”

I had forgotten it was 9/11 today until a student wanted to know if we would have a shortened day. She was hoping the tragedy carried a holiday status. I found this rather disturbing: thousands of dead Americans and a Chinese student hoping to get time off school. But she’s a kid, so I cut her some slack.

I do not for a second, though, cut the American government slack for its actions post-9/11. This is the day that many will opine about the tragedy of that day, and while there is no doubt such reflection is well-deserved, it can easily blind us to the greater tragedy: what America has inflicted upon the world in the aftermath of 9/11.

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