Whistling past the graveyard

That’s what I think that Richard Haass is doing in his op-ed on Time Online on how to avoid “Iraq Syndrome”:

Defeat in Vietnam did not prevent the U.S. from maintaining close cooperative relationships with other regional countries, including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Nor did it stop the U.S. from forging sometimes productive ties with Vietnam’s backers (including China and what was then the Soviet Union) or, with the passage of time, with Vietnam itself. Today Asia is the most dynamic part of the world, and the U.S. is a central participant in that dynamism.

No, but it rather obviously prevented us from doing anything about the killing fields of Cambodia, the communist takeover in Nicaragua, and the Iranian revolution. At 54 Mr. Haass is old enough to remember that after our military withdrawal from Viet Nam U. S. foreign policy entered a funk that lasted at least a decade beginning with abandoning financial support of the South Vietnamese government. The events of that decade arguably formed the foundation for the fix we’re in now.

It doesn’t have to be that way again. We’re not flatworms. I’d certainly be interested in hearing what changes will result in a different outcome.

Will we have an epiphany and suddenly place all our support behind the UN? What in the UN’s history suggests that it would be an effective vessel for such support. IMO the UN derives its legitimacy from the members of the UNSC not the other way around. And we’re the richest, most powerful member of the Security Council by a substantial margin.

NATO? NATO is laboring mightily to put in the effort that’s going on in Afghanistan right now. I think it’s far more likely that NATO will throw in the towel on Afghanistan that that its members will increase their defense budgets to enable them to put in the effort required.

It doesn’t have to be that way again. But the American experience suggests it will be.


Marc Schulman of Amerian Future, a new associate blogger at The Moderate Voice has a somewhat different set of criticisms of Mr. Haass’s comments.  The ensuing comments are quite interesting.  They bring to mind the question I ask above:  why will Americans act as he suggests rather than going into a decade-long navel-contemplating (or self-flagellation) exercise?

1 comment… add one
  • Dave,

    I’ve quickly learned that some of The Moderate Voice’s readers aren’t exactly moderates. My definition of a moderate is someone who’s able to distinguish between the message and the messenger. Both extremes of the political spectrum are populated by individuals incapable of separating the two.

    Fortunately, there are people like you and our mutual blogfriends who don’t view the world through ideologically-colored glasses. Vive les moderates!

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