Thursday, March 04, 2004

Why I love Lileks...
If you haven't heard of or read James Lileks, you must be living in a cave. Here's an intersting article he wrote concerning a major diference between Bush and Kerry:

Yep, that about sums it up. That's the paternalistic impulse of most liberals (small "L" deliberate): stop it ,kids, or I'll send you to your room. Don't MAKE me come up there! No dessert for you, now go stand in the corner.

Kerry suffers from the same disease that most democrats (small "d" intentional) suffer from: they are afraid, scared shitless, to exercise power, unless it is the power to tax us to death and give the money to someone else.

This is because thay have leraned the wrong lessons about the proper use of power (whether military, political or economic). Their thinking is still skewed by the examples of Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton, who applied American power in totally inappropriate ways.

Truman tethered the United States to the United Nations, and thus achieved a stalemate that still exists. There is no, and never has been, any formal agreement to cease hostilities between North and South Korea. Truman should have stood up to China when he had the opportunity and failed to do so because he was afraid of the spectre of intervention by the Soviet Union (Stalin however, had no such concerns. Russian "advisors" were in combat daily with the U.S. Air Force and Naval Aviation).

Kennedy and LBJ tried to restrain American power within the bounds of limited political objectives, to the exclusion of the MAIN political objective: keeping South Vietnam free and (somewhat) democratic. They also lost the public relations war because every time American troops had a success, it was reported a s a failure somewhere else. For example, the Tet offensive practically wiped out the Viet Cong as a viable force, but Johnson never insisted on a follow up that might have seen American troops cross the DMZ and put an end to Vietnamese communism for a generation or so. Instead, Americans saw pictures of their embassy under attack and smelled defeat.

As for Carter, a third-rate theocratic regime in black pajamas held this country hostage for 444 days. When American power was exercised (the ill-fated Operation Eagle) the failure was an excuse to not try it again, or to not try something else. The Iranians were able to score a propaganda victory and escape punishment for daring to challenge the United States. The potential for the American Big Stick was thought to be threat enough while "negotiations' went on. Sometimes the Stick has to be displayed menacingly enough to make it a potential reality. Instead, Carter folded and encouraged an entire generation of religious fanatics to be bolder and more destructive. Witness 9/11.

Clinton, of course, had no trouble unleashing the U.S. Military on Christians in Texas, but couldn't get around to beating up a tin-pot, drug-dealing marauder in Mogadishu because that would have involved sending tanks there. That would seem too much like an occupation. Then again, that ill-concieved mission was thrust upn us by the United Nations. Clinton was of the mind that if he just let international organizations take care of foreign policy he could just concentrate on domestic stuff, like burning a building full of right-wing religious nuts. Clinto, need I remind anyone, is the guy who put Aristede in power in Haiti. I guess putting a dictator in priest's clothing into a position of authority was a good use of American power.

The lesson that is learned from all of this is that a democrat can usually be counted upon to miss the point of any exercise of influence --- which is to actually influence stuff, anything at all.

Time may prove George W. Bush wrong, but for the time being, it doesn't look that way. For now it looks like a constructive and effective example of how one exercises power and influence. Treating the world as if it's full of four year olds is NOT the way to do it.

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