From my old blog, originally posted on 5.27.2010. I just had the timing wrong. [Edited slightly because I can never read my old posts without needing to tweak a bit. Bracketed comments are today’s.]
This analysis of Woodrow Wilson hits on something Yasha and I discuss from time to time, namely, that even though Republicans are thought to be the hardliner hawks, we are far more cautious than a threatened Democrat. Republicans do think about using military power more often. They tend to worry more about prevention and defending US interests. Democrats, on the other hand, don’t like to think about such things. [In fact, by the doctrine of Humanitarian War, wars to defend national interests are at least morally suspect. War should only be fought for altruistic purposes when the nation has no national interest. Stated or not, this is Obama’s rationale for taking us into Syria today.] Leftists will avoid, excuse, and delay until they can’t anymore. And then they blow, some with better results than others.
The link covers Wilson. But we have other, similar stories. FDR took us to WWII after delay. JFK, we remember him as strong on national defense, but his early days were full of hope and peace rhetoric. Then came the disastrous meeting with Khrushchev, followed by the Berlin Wall—they build a wall and JFK gives a speech—and the Bay of Pigs betrayal. JFK went into Vietnam because he needed to “draw a line in the sand” to prove that he could. (By the way, compare the Vietnam section in JFK’s entry to the JKF section in the Vietnam War entry.) Johnson escalated in Vietnam when he got into political trouble. Carter did the failed hostage rescue trying to prove he was tough. Clinton went into Bosnia without UN approval or any US interest, allegedly to divert attention from his domestic problems.
For all the talk about Bush being a warmonger, by comparison he was restrained. He prepped for weeks before invading Afghanistan. He went along with Blair tried for an 18th UN resolution against Iraq. Part of the difficulty in securing Iraq after taking Baghdad resulted from the restrained and precision bombing employed to reduce civilian casualties. [And one of the common complaints about Blair insisting on trying for an 18th resolution, was that Saddam had plenty of time and warning to smuggle out his chemical stockpiles. Intelligence at the time suggested the WMD had gone to, correct, Syria. Obviously, no one wants to talk about that now, that Bush and Blair might not have lied much less that their run-up to war might be something to study much less emulate. The Atlantic was dismissive of the Syria stash theory last year. I have links from 2010 when Israel released some new intelligence on how the WMD left Iraq. A summary from a few days ago.]
Beware a cornered Obama. We have a lot of firepower. He might feel the need to draw a line in the sand.