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June 17, 2004

If Not Perle Then Whom?

Long ago I read George F. Kennan's 'Around the Cragged Hill'. I recall very little of it. I am brought to mind of it at this moment by the following bit of a paragraph:

Although Kennan's influence ultimately waned, he seemed to make his greatest contribution to realist thought from the sidelines, where he served as a relentless critic of the dominant role that Wilsonian idealism or "do-goodism" came to exert on U.S. foreign policy. In this respect, Kennan joined the other realists in condemning U.S. interventions in Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Bosnia, and elsewhere as stemming more from an effort to improve the world than from vital national interests.

The Perle-Wolfowitz axis of neoconservatism owes much to that Wilsonian idealism. I have always been a neocon in much that fashion. However I have been saying the 'E' word out loud. America is an improper but should strive to become a proper Empire. It's the only thing that will stop the world from eventually crushing us out of spite.

But here we stand with an ingrateful Iraq, a staggering bill, and domestic bickering that seems to never end. Were we not realistic in our projections? Perhaps we could use some measure of political realism? Hmm.

Rakiir gives Truman (Kennan) credit for the victory of Containment and takes it away from Reagan.

So the historical record seems clear to me. Reagan continued a policy which was started in 1947 and continued over 33 years by six different presidents before Reagan assumed the presidency. Claiming that Reagan won the Cold War seems unjustified by any rational standard. What you can say is that Reagan increased the pressure on the U.S.S.R. on a number of fronts (diplomatic, military, and rhetorically), especially compared to the first three years of the Carter presidency. Reagan's efforts weren't small but they weren't ground breaking or particularly dramatic compared to what Truman, Kennedy, and Nixon both said and did (Korea, Vietnam, and Nixon's trip to China).

Considering the state of Venezuela today, and the absolute inability for anyone to declare any victory in Central or South America vis a vis Reagan's anti-communist interventions in this hemisphere, I think we'll have to concede Rakiir's point.

I have been reluctant to parrot the argument that Cheney and Rumsfeld rejected the Powell Doctrine out of spite and arrogance. But more people are weighing in on that notion. Is Admiral Crowe among that bunch who are now standing tall against GWBush? He and Hackworth just don't fade away do they? But as we come to transition day, there are no maypoles and confetti in Baghdad, just bigger car bombs and more effective sabotage.

There is a significant difference between Containment and Appeasement, but there seems to be a bigger difference between Containment and Regime Change and we don't seem to be made of the proper imperial stuff for the latter. Considering we have yet to lose one day's worth of Iwo Jima fighters, volume and pervasiveness of the political wimpery of our low-carb dissenters is a poor mark on the strength of the President. He chose Perle (or did Perle choose him), and Perle's time is just about over. June 30th marks the day in my book.

Is anybody shopping around for new ideas? I'm really tired of Stonewall Cheney and the haughty 'you try doing my job, you traitor' snorts of Rumsfeld. Maybe it's time we got real.

Posted by mbowen at June 17, 2004 05:39 PM

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