November 19, 2005

Jerry Landay in the Projo: War is Peace

Carroll Andrew Morse

The problem with leftists is that they’ve got no foreign policy arguments of their own to make. This leads them write articles, like this Jerry Landay op-ed from Friday’s Projo, where they hitch themselves to any anti-Bush argument around, even when the factual basis is weak and the logic doesn’t make sense. In Landay's case, he hitches himself to the Brent Scowcroft realist bandwagon.

Landay lets his readers know right away that historical accuracy is not going to be his strong suit…

Both Scowcroft and [retired Colnel Larry] Wilkerson are case-hardened realists who scorn the taking on of military adventures with uncertain outcomes.
Scowcroft is anything but a non-interventionist. Scowcroft supported the American invasion of Panama in 1989. As national security advisor, he supported America's ultimate "adventure with an uncertain uncome" in Somalia in 1992.

Landay’s Swiss-cheese approach to history leads him to uncritically buy into Brent Scowcroft’s “realist” distortions of the recent past. Here’s Landay’s version of a history that never was…

The candid words of these wise old warrior-patriots underscore the menacing place to which our present national leadership has led us -- and the world. With a wrecked Army, Marine Corps, National Guard and Reserves, we are seen by our rivals and enemies as toothless. The "Pax Americana" we have imposed on the world for more than 50 years is undermined.
In Landay’s view, the world of the September-11 attack -- a world where 3,000 people in their home country were killed by foreign attackers in one day -- was a world at peace. You might coherently argue that liberating Iraq was the wrong move for neutralizing the most major threat to America, but you cannot coherently argue, as Landay does, that it was the wrong move because it brought an end to “peace”. For a bit more detail, here’s Christopher Hitchens’ description of the Scowcroft/Landay 50 years of peace…
Realism of the Scowcroft sort presided over the Iran-Iraq war with its horrific casualties and watched indifferently as genocide was enacted in northern Iraq. It allowed despots free rein from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, and then goggled when this gave birth to the Taliban and al-Qaida.
But the biggest problem with Landay’s and Scowcroft’s acceptance of war as peace is not how it distorts the past, but how it threatens the future. Contrary to Landay’s statement, toothless is not how our enemies see us today; toothless is how they saw us leading up to September 11. A series of weak responses to attacks on Americans had convinced terrorist organizations and their sponsors that they could launch a September 11-scale attack and probably suffer only the effects of frozen assets and a few cruise missiles in response.

That perception ended with Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq may yet prove that the US does not know how to rebuilding a government once we’ve destroyed it, but nobody doubts any longer that the US will hit back hard if attacked.