It’s a tribute to the collapse of modern education that so many people, from pundits and professors to movie stars and policy makers, continue to repeat stereotypes and slogans that are demonstrably false and, in all likelihood, dangerous to our national health. Yet the advocates of these false and dangerous myths are widely praised as the Best and the Brightest among us. We should recall David Halberstam’s book of that title, which exposed the B & Bs as the foolish architects of the Vietnam debacle.
I’m going to talk about three current myths, which suck up an amazing amount of airtime, ink, and bandwith. There are many others, but these should get us going on a serious discussion.
1. The Syrian Peace Negotiations
The B & Bs generate new “peace” plans by the day, but there is no hope of a peaceful end to the Syrian slaughter. Too much murder and torture has been unleashed by the Assad regime, too many people have been killed and maimed, to expect the Syrians to reason together. That moment is gone.
Historians used to know that “peace” usually comes after one side defeats the other in war, and the winners impose terms on the losers. That is what successful “peace conferences” are about, and the terms imposed on the losers define the “peace.”
So if you want peace in Syria, pick a side and help it win the war. You may whine — as the Obama administration often does — that we have incomplete information and can’t see through to the “endgame.” That’s usually the case, especially when you’ve got a bloated and failed intelligence community, as we do. But once we engage, the situation changes (when America moves, the whole world changes), and intelligence improves. Dithering won’t help, nor will calls for “peace talks” before one side has won.
Forget about the UN and the NGOs. Above all, forget about “leading from behind.” Remember Yoda: “Not try. Do.”
2. The Iranian Nuclear Negotiations
We’ve all seen Iranians herded into the streets of their cities, led by beturbaned men in chants of “Death to America!” What do you think they mean? The war they have waged against us since 1979 proves that they mean just that.
So why should they give up the ultimate weapon? They think it will make them invulnerable to American (and Israeli) military power. They do not believe that either the American or the Israeli government will take effective action to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear arsenal. They are not impressed with chest-pounding or bellicose rhetoric from Washington or Jerusalem. They are, rather, convinced by the American retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the cuts in the military budget.
So don’t waste your time parsing statements from the ayatollahs. They’re at war with us and they intend to deliver our doom. “Negotiations” are tactical moves to divide their enemies, gain more time to build their arsenal, and fend off further sanctions.
As the Washington Post‘s editorialists said, if you want to solve the nuke problem, you need regime change in Tehran. But hardly anyone among the B & Bs cares to discuss how to bring down the Iranian regime, any more than they are doing the slightest thing to bring down the Assads’ tyranny in Damascus.
Forget about the nukes, it’s the war, stupid.
3. “Resets” and other dreams
With foreign countries,” “good relations” aren’t accomplished by men and women of good will sitting around a table and reasoning together. So the notion that we can forge a happy relationship with Russia by demonstrating our good will is a fantasy. Good relations are the product of other things. Shared cultural values are very important, and we don’t have many of those with comrade Putin. Lacking a common culture, the next most important ingredient of good relations is respect. The “other” must take us seriously, and respect our power and our will. The Russians certainly respect our power, but, like the Iranians, undoubtedly laugh at our lack of resolve and tenacity. This is a big change, because they were greatly impressed with Reagan’s character, and with that of his key people.
Contrary to the rhetoric of the current secretary of state, the important “reset” is the one that has already occurred, the change in the Russians’ (and others’) evaluation of our willingness to fight for our position in the world. The current crop of Russian leaders don’t respect us, and most assuredly do not fear the consequences of challenging us.
Those attitudes are very widely shared, from the Middle East to Latin America. Lack of respect leads even such minor figures as Venezuela’s Chavez to dream of regional empire, and a deadly assault on the United States.
Forget about working things out around conference tables. The war against us is on, and we won’t have anything approaching peace until that war is won. By us, or by our enemies.