Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Realism vs. Fantasy

Say what you will about Pat Buchanan, but he knows history. And he has hit a home run in today's column which deals with realism vs idealism in international politics.

President Nixon reacted immediately, sending massive aid to Israel and warning Moscow not to intervene, as Ariel Sharon led his brigade across the canal to cut off food and water to Egypt's Third Army on the east bank. Nixon and Kissinger intervened with Israel to prevent the annihilation of the Third Army.

In 1974, Nixon made a triumphal visit to Egypt. Four years later, Jimmy Carter brokered the Camp David accord between Menachem Begin, who had blown up the King David Hotel in 1946, and Sadat, the Nazi collaborator. Begin, Sadat and Carter would all win the Nobel Prize for Peace for Camp David.

Nixon's Middle East policy was designed to secure U.S. vital interests in the region, which required restoration of ties to an Egypt led by a military dictator and ex-Nazi sympathizer. Neither Nixon nor Carter insisted that Sadat hold elections before brokering the truce with Israel or the permanent peace. They did not let the best become the enemy of the good.

Nor did the Israelis make such a demand. Indeed, in Israel in June 1967 with Nixon, I heard David Ben-Gurion himself express the hope that Nasser would survive his humiliation in the Six-Day War because, said Ben-Gurion, Nasser alone could conclude a peace with Israel that Arabs might accept. Ben-Gurion did not believe you needed to democratize Egypt before you made peace with Egypt.

[...]

So it goes. We hail the fall of Czar Nicholas and get Lenin. We go to war to hang the Prussian Kaiser and get an Austrian corporal named Hitler. We cut off aid to the "corrupt" regime of Chiang Kai-shek and get Mao Zedong. We denounce Lon Nol and get Pol Pot. We destabilize the shah and get the ayatollah.

How many times must we relearn the lesson? The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the fruits of Wilsonian idealism are rarely ideal.


In most cases the US remains a political realist. We are dealing rationally with China and North Korea. Somehow we have lost this ability when it comes to the Middle East. This is clearly due to some influential people who are too emotionally involved in the Middle East conflict.

UPDATE:

The point is really that not only does a realist foreign policy reduce the burden on the US, but it is also more effective in obtaining security for Israel and the US. This is a win-win that the nutty neocons are unwilling to acknowledge.

7 Comments:

Anonymous m said...

Are we dealing rationally with N Korea or China? I am not so sure.

12/15/2005 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger antiradical said...

Pat B. is THE man.

Peace

12/16/2005 08:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Scipio Americus said...

Not to forget, we shunned the widely respected nationalist Ho Chi Minh, who admired the US Constitution and sought US help in forming a post-colonial state in Indochina, and wound up with the Vietnam War for our stupidity. ... Doesn't it sometimes seem our foreign policy is intentionally ham-fisted?

12/16/2005 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger kei & yuri said...

The first thing noted by critics is that Pat "diesel fumes cannot kill" Buchanan doesn't know history. We will not accept his careless take on a worn anti-interventionist story that is almost always done better. In particular this: "We cut off aid to the 'corrupt' regime of Chiang Kai-shek and get Mao Zedong." Putting quotes around the fantastic corruption of the filthy Kuomintang, who were so corrupt that their corruption spawned and fed Mao, so corrupt that they wopuldn't even let their soldiers have clothing so they could continue to party like a true elite, so corrupt that some of them got more money from Japan during the war, is like saying nobody could possibly die from being locked in a chamber of diesel fumes.
Mao was not a product of cutting off aid to Chiang, Mao was a product of the corruption of Chiang and his ilk, Mao was the result of the nation-building that Chiang represented.
This is a significant and perfidious misrepesentation, a slimy bit of mendacity worthy of a Zionist! At the same time that Pat says he's preaching from the anti-interventionist book of William Blum (specifically "Killing Hope," a must-memorize), he reversed victim and perpetrator, reactor and instigator!
It is good that another brought up Ho Chi Minh, and what is worth noting in the case of both Minh and Mao, as well as several other Asian countries, is that commies had enormous credibility as they had this solid reputation as serious fighters who were the toughest opponents of the Japanese. Another case in which the corruption and parasitism of Chiang worked against him, and in the case of Vietnam something that contributed to the kiling off of non-Communist patriotism (when Ho first approached the US, he was the elected Communist head of a heterogenous, coalition government. Towards the end of the war of course the only remainder of that coalition was the Communism the US had wanted to avoid).
We agree totally with Pat's general thinkning regarding the Middle East and particularly Korea; we are very much in favor of practical engagement in Korea, since the neo-con's alternative (their faith that the regime will topple any day now, or worse fantasies of war) is guilty of the exact same aiding and abetting they accuse engagers of, and since it is totally laughable to cry over bribery as far as Korean bureaucrats are concerned.

12/17/2005 09:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat was correct about the diesel fumes.

12/20/2005 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger kei & yuri said...

Diesel exhaust emissions have given rise to increased anxiety in coal mines in respect to adverse health effects ever since diesel equipment was introduced in the early 1950's. As a result of this anxiety, numerous research projects have taken place, mainly in the United States, but more recently in Canada, Europe and Australia. Some of these research projects have focused on the effect of exposure to diesel exhaust emissions while others have concentrated on understanding the composition of diesel exhaust emissions and developing appropriate control technologies.

The report examines the range of toxins in diesel and petrol fumes...

Diesel fumes are responsible for more premature deaths each year than drunken driving and homicides, according to a new report.

Over time, exposure to diesel fumes can lead to chronic lung problems...

12/21/2005 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Captain Obvious said...

Yeah, so according to all those websites you posted, diesel fumes kill in the same way that tobacco kills: in the long term due to negative health effects, but *not* in the short term, which is the claim Buchanan was debunking. So, yes, Buchanan was right.

12/25/2005 07:56:00 PM  

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