Resist Retreat

“There are things to be done. Resist retreat as a matter of strategy and principle. And provide the means to continue our dominant role in the world by keeping our economic house in order.” Krauthammer

I’ve long acknowledged the powerful pull of tribalism. And time has only increased my nostalgia for those great flat plains. Still, you know, I would pause before voting for Bob Kerrey: that he couldn’t see the reflexive anti-Americanism in Obama (one I doubt he feels) is a problem. Of course, it is easy to understand Winger’s attraction and he was much younger; still watching her description of Polanski as victim made me wonder again at his judgment in the personal. And, sure, Krauthammer is more cogent. Still, Kerrey can be and has been heroic; he remains a Nebraskan and remains more right (and more honest) than most Democrats:

Great American leaders of our past have ignored popular sentiment and pressed on during the darkest hours, even when setbacks give rhetorical ammunition to the skeptics. . .
. . . our leaders must remain focused on the fact that success in Afghanistan bolsters our national security and yes, our moral reputation. This war is not Vietnam. The Taliban are not popular and have very little support other than what they secure through terror.
Afghanistan is also not Iraq. No serious leader in Kabul is asking us to leave. Instead we are being asked to withdraw by American leaders who begin their analysis with the presumption that victory is not possible. They seem to want to ensure defeat by leaving at the very moment when our military leader on the ground has laid out a coherent and compelling strategy for victory.
When it comes to foreign policy, almost nothing matters more then your friends and your enemies knowing you will keep your word and follow through on your commitments.

I will not discuss Krauthammer – others will and will do so better. The K’s agree about what needs to be done, but not about the nature of the man who has the choices to make.

Kerrey is a Democrat; he isn’t a cynic: he wants Obama to be the man he imagined he campaigned for. He hopes Obama will stand tall, believing within that opaque aura that surrounds our president is a person he would understand, respect. Krauthammer sees the president’s actions – his apologies, his “exercise in contraction” – and believes the actions are coherent expressions of policy, beliefs, the self within that suit. He doesn’t believe we are at a crossroads but moving downhill, fairly fast. He, like Kerrey, still believes in possibility, but he argues that that possibility could only come with change: “Nothing is written. Nothing is predetermined. We can reverse the slide, we can undo dependence if we will it.”

I would like to think that Krauthammer has misread the slope and we are still on the great flat plains. I suspect, however, it is Kerrey, with some personal investment, who is willing an interpretation that accounts for fewer examples than does Krauthammer.

Krauthammer suggests solutions, but he doesn’t give us much confidence Obama is likely to support that “reverse.” And, if the system has a certain strength as he points out, we may be left with the feeling that our grandkids won’t be screwed even if our kids will be. Kerrey’s argument is that they aren’t screwed yet. Neither makes me go to bed happy.

5 thoughts on “Resist Retreat”

  1. I have no idea what our Grand Strategy should be in the region, or our strategy, even, but I sure hope the President makes a reasonable choice for AfPak (given the fact that none of the choices are particularly easy), provides the necessary resources requested, and sticks with it a bit. I mean, what else is there to do?

    I dunno, this is his first real executive responsibility! Please, please, please get it right, sir!

    (I, too, have a love for those great flat plains, although Iowa is never as flat as people think, but the area I grew up in sure was flat, ‘cornfielded up’, and quiet. Quietly lovely.)

    As for what we should be, as a country and as Americans, I sort of like the pushy, messy, driving, striving America! I hope (ha!), I mean, let’s work toward keeping us that way! Out of all the pushy, messy, driving and striving comes so much – Norman Borlaug, jazz, golden era Hollywood films, Nobels in Science and Medicine, McDonalds, Wal-mart and google…..wonderful. Just wonderful.

  2. Also, one weakness of our current crop of politicians (well, of many, but whose fault is that?) is that they seem unable to set reasonable goals, define them, and then let the people who need to make them happen JUST DO IT. I am talking about Afghanistan, especially, where I am not sure our President knows what he wants, in clear terms. If his hand-picked general, with the expensive COIN check, isn’t giving him what he wants, then, well, just what does he want? How does he define our goals? How can the men and women in the military move forward if they don’t know?

    Oh, I dunno. Good post for discussion, Ginny.

  3. Kerry is a Democrat in mold of JFK, LBJ or Truman. They were social democrats but they believed strongly in America, American exceptionalism and saw America’s role in the world as defending and extending freedom and self-determination. The other Democrats such as Obama are not within the American tradition and instead trace their ideological descent from European Marxism.

    I find it deeply ironic that when you read leftists’ criticism of American foreign policy in period from 1945-1976 the three key players where the Democrats Truman, Kennedy and LBJ. Truman created containment. Kennedy carried out many aggressive anti-communist actions (although he did so ineptly compared to the smooth Eisenhower) and substantially raised defense spending. LBJ followed through. Most of the supposedly sinister covert actions and support for non-communist authoritarians that leftist claim so damn us as a moral authority were carried out under those social democrat presidents.

    Obama will never give a speech about freedom as did Kennedy. His words will never reverberate through the ages. No one will be free and secure because of his policies. Obama will be thought of as another Carter at best.

  4. I agree with onparkstreet and don’t want to imply I know what strategy works. Like him, I have some confidence that Obama should value his expert’s opinion more than Biden’s. More to the point, the idea that we should abdicate the role that our power has traditionally given us is to ignore the basic laws of human nature, diplomacy. It’s long been my feeling that those of Obama’s persuasion seem unable to conceive of human nature. This lack of imagination (it takes some imagination – human nature is complex, paradoxical, and, in the country/western song’s lyrics, crazy) but not accepting that complexity has led to great devastation in our time. It looks likely we are on our way to yet another disaster – and perhaps on our soil.

    So in my erratic and unChristian way I end up at Sunday School today (perhaps reading these two late last night would impel some need for prayer). And our class was working its way through the wisdom literature – just beginning Proverbs. And here, we see admonitions that arise from an understanding of human nature that hasn’t changed all that much in all that time. Have we ever thrown out those traditions with such abandon as those of Obama’s persuasion have in the last century?

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