Sunday, October 01, 2006

LGM Sets Victor Davis Hanson Straight on Carter and Desert One

Here. Gosh, it would be nice to see more posts like this on the internets/blogospheres. The comments are worth reading, too. As one commenter points out, the right wing should "thank their lucky stars for Clinton," otherwise they'd still be trying to blame everything on Carter...

I've been thinking about this stuff a bit since I recently had a student in my office who was clearly being sold the whole conservative bill of goods by the College Republicans' machine...a world made dangerous by wimpy Democrats, Carter and Clinton in particular, America defended only by steely Republican resolve... He'd even been indoctrinated with the view that somehow Carter was responsible for what's happened to Iran...that if only we'd kept the Shah in power, everything would have been just peachy...

I usually just ask such kids to consider the following question: under what conditions should we support brutal tyrants as a means to pursuing national interests, especially national security interests?

In my lifetime, two answers seem to have been prominent. The Democratic answer has been something like "only when absolutely necessary." The Republican answer has been something like "whenever it looks like it will help us in any way." We had to ally ourselves with Stalin in WWII. We did not have to support Shah Palavi, Saddam Hussein, Pinochet, etc., etc., etc.

Of course the Republican tendency to support brutal psychopaths on the off chance that it might help us in some way has had a tendency to be much so that I think the policy should be abandoned on prudential grounds alone. But I'm more concerned with the conceptions of and effects on America, its moral standing, and its place in history.


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

But Carter and Clinton did cut defense spending---it's right in the chart that LGM linked to.

As far as supporting dicatators, Bush's Mid-East Democracy Initiative was an idealistic attempt to reverse that. (Evidence of success not on display.)

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But Carter and Clinton did cut defense spending---it's right in the chart that LGM linked to."

First of all, Carter did not - those are FY numbers, meaning the year 1977 and prior numbers are not for Carter budgets.

Second of all, there was a significant event in the early 90s that might have had a small effect on military spending, especially large weapons systems. Maybe this will help you:

From the article, sayeth SecDef Richard Cheney in 1992:

"Overall, since I've been Secretary, we will have taken the five-year defense program down by well over $300 billion. That's the peace dividend. … And now we're adding to that another $50 billion … of so-called peace dividend."

That's the reality.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

OK, that's a good argument about the FYs. Point conceded.

Since Carter apparently ran on a campaign promise to cut defense spending, the perception stuck.

I found this campaign advice letter from Cheney to Ford interesting. Link.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Kudos, Tom, for conceding the point.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it comes to the Shah, the U.S. didn't just support him, they installed him as dictator when they overthrew the elected, democratic, pro-western, secular prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh. Without that coup, the Iranian hostage crisis would have been inconcievable. Iranians in '79 remembered Kermit Roosevelt and his machinactions like they were yesterday (while Americans never even knew what happened), and saw the American embassy as a "den of spies." It wasn't, but the perception is understandable. Without the overthrow of Mossadegh, Iran might well look a lot like Turkey these days. Another feather in the caps of those douchebag Dulles brothers.

1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to mention that a true leader would have just traded them some Stinger missiles for the hostages, rather than attempt such a lily-livered rescue.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Heh heh...good point, Anonymous.

4:05 PM  

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