Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Bill Kristol, as you may know, is unashamedly calling for war, or at least a new Cold War:
A war-weary public can be awakened and rallied. Indeed, events are right now doing the awakening. All that's needed is the rallying. And the turnaround can be fast. Only 5 years after the end of the Vietnam war, and 15 years after our involvement there began in a big way, Ronald Reagan ran against both Democratic dovishness and Republican d├ętente. He proposed confronting the Soviet Union and rebuilding our military. It was said that the country was too war-weary, that it was too soon after Vietnam, for Reagan's stern and challenging message. Yet Reagan won the election in 1980. And by 1990 an awakened America had won the Cold War.
Breitbart's Joel Pollak is even more bellicose, and not just toward Russia:
Vladimir Putin seizes the Crimea, so we blockade the Bosporus. Iran defies the UN, so we sink its Persian Gulf fleet. China expands its air defense zone, so we start downing Chinese fighters. North Korea fires some missiles, so we send a CIA assassin with Dennis Rodman's entourage on the next basketball trip.

Why is has any of this become unthinkable? We're the world's lone superpower--since when did we become such complete wimps?

... As long as we will be hated by tyrants anyway, why not do something truly worthy of fear by our enemies?
We should count ourselves lucky that there isn't more of this, at least so far. More typical is this, from Jeff Jacoby:
But by now Putin knows better than to take anything this administration says seriously. Sure enough, the monetary sanctions Obama ordered Monday were so ludicrously minimal -- they targeted only 11 individuals, bypassing Putin and his top financial backers -- that Kremlin insiders laughed....

This is no time to go wobbly, but when it comes to foreign policy, wobbly is what Team Obama does best....

No one expects or wants the United States to go to war over Crimea. But when will it dawn on the president that a US foreign policy based on retrenchment and accommodation makes the world more dangerous, not less?
Yes, we shouldn't "go wobbly," but "no one" wants war, so we should show Putin we mean business by ... by ... by doing what Obama is doing, only much more so! Sanctions, but more of them! Or something like that....

Luckily for us, most right-wing critics of Obama are more like Jacoby than like Kristol or Pollak -- at least so far. I think, in part, that's because Obama is willing to proceed in a careful, stepwise fashion, even at the risk of looking "weak" -- which leaves plenty of room on his right for conservatives to make demands short of war. If Obama were desperately trying to strike an effective "grand bargain" with the saber-rattlers, conservatives would feel the need to get to his right by demanding a full-on war, or at least a full-on Cold War, because we know that, on the right, the proper thing to do is whatever Obama isn't doing.

I'm not sure how long this situation will hold. The Obama approach requires us to have patience and the willingness to tolerate an extend period of foreign policy anxiety; right-wing fantasies, by contrast, involve Hollywood victories that are exciting and fun and cost-free to the Good Guys. By the 2016 primaries, if not by this year's midterms, I expect most Republicans to be talking like Kristol and Pollak -- maybe even Rand Paul, that grubby opportunist, who'll let his ambition trump his so-called principles. Let's hope the public remains wearier of war than John Wayne-ish right-wingers.


Victor said...

Well, in all fairness, Steve, these were the same people who pushed us to attack Afghanistan and Iraq, and we know how well that all turned out.

We completely modernized Afghanistan in just a couple of years, so that that country is now a self-sufficient Democracy.

And look at Iraq!
Eleven years after we invaded - and left, shorty thereafter - it's practically an Arabian Sweden - but with OIL!!!!!!!!

I think we should listen to these folks.
Just look at the excellent - nay, should I say, FLAWLESS - record.


aimai said...

The way I handle this is not letting myself get anxious. I don't think there is anything anyone can do to get Russia to relinquish control over the Crimea. They aren't built that way and there are (almost) no sanctions which can make the price too high. There certainly is no war option.

So I don't care. There are natural consequences to the seizure if Obama and Europe can arrange them but these, as you say steve, require slow, stepwise, organizing and, essentially, ostracism.

If war is not an option, and its not--what is there to get excited about. PUtin's seizure of crimea is not in fact a gauntlet thrown down by him or a slap across America's masculinity's face. Its just a thing that Russia wanted to do and would have done regardless of who was in power in the US.

Never Ben Better said...

Very sensible comments, aimai -- as yours always are. Unfortunately, too many people with power and public megaphones are hellbent on stirring up trouble, no matter the consequences. I don't fear what Obama intends to do; I do fear what the jackals and hyenas howling at him may push the situation into.

Over at Booman, Medicine Man 2 had this to say:

"Not hyperbole: If McCain were President of the US, the Northern Hemisphere might be burnt to a crisp by now.

"Think about it a bit. We know what McCain's temperament is; it is not hard to imagine him locking the US into a cycle of escalation against Russia. Who was McCain's choice for Secretary of Defense? Was it someone who would have advised caution? Would McCain have listened to the Joint Chiefs?

"The best part? Even if President McCain demonstrated his instability to such an extent that Congress impeached him from office, you'd just end up with President Palin."

Palin may have become a joke -- though she still has followers -- but McCain? He's the recurring star of the Sunday talk shows, the go-to guy for things military and foreign affairs for the network news programs. Think about that.

Then think about what the upcoming elections in November may look like.

Then do what I do -- drink. Heavily.

Mark said...

So when does Joel Pollak enlist to make sure he's first in line at the front of our new war with Mother Russia?

Philo Vaihinger said...

The supposed threat of World Communism has evaporated but neither party demands we get out of NATO and withdraw our forces to the Western Hemisphere, north of the equator.

Imagine that.

Glennis said...

Kristol is an evil, soul-less fuck, and Pollack is an ignorant child.

John Taylor said...

Sabre-rattling is never the right way. The only option left to the West is keeping communication open with Russia. Patience and calm heads is the best way. War is not an option and both sides know this.

Philo Vaihinger said...

If Putin had told his parliament that the US is bent on global hegemony, world domination, or even hyperbolically on world conquest, that would have been more accurate than anyone saying Hitler was bent on world domination, or Stalin.

But China is quickly rising, thanks in large part to right wing trade policies.

And world demographics are mightily against us.

America cannot in this century continue to be the handy stick any immigrant can use to bash his homeland's enemies.

And I mean that to include the immigrants whose families came over in the Mayflower.

The ravings of these mad dogs of war are clear proof that we must radically cut the war budget (defense, my ass) and withdraw the military as soon as possible from our global outposts so that insane fools like these will not have the tools with which to pursue their lunatic ambitions.