Does Anybody Really Know What Year It Is?

|

It's bad form to link to articles behind a firewall, but The Atlantic's Ross Douthat has a funny take on foreign policy debates in The Wall Street Journal which he summarizes on his blog. Douthat pegs all opinion on the "war on terror" into five categories, based on the years adherents always warn us we're about to repeat:

whether it's 1942 (the Bush Administration's take), 1938 (the current neoconservative take, with Iran as Nazi Germany), 1948 (the centrist Democrats' take), 1972 (the Huffington Post Democrats' take), or 1919 (the paleocon take, with Bush as a feckless Wilson)

For 1942, read "it's just after Pearl Harbor and before Midway, and we're going to win after a long hard fight." For 1948, read "George Kennan-style containment." For 1972, read "let's get out now! Run! Also, cut!"

Even when it's framed in an amusing fashion, that "war opponents want to relive 1972" trope is a little grating. Of course, it's far worse when framed in another fashion, as here, by the high-pitched has-been Bob Tyrrell.

Their solution to the war in Iraq and to the war on terror is: "Come Home America." They want our troops out of Iraq. They advocate fighting the war on terror closer to home. As Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton puts it, "We still have not done what we need to do to protect our ports, our borders, our bridges, our transit systems, our rail lines—it's a long list." So, "Come Home America." That is the refrain last made famous by Senator Clinton's presidential candidate in 1972, Senator George McGovern. She really has not changed all that much since then, nor have the rest of the Democrats.

The problem with the very, very popular "McGovern!" and "1972!" lines of attack against war opponents is clarified by Douthat's list. The planners of 1919 and 1938 precipitated disaster. George McGovern wanted to withdraw from Vietnam, above the objections of hawks who thought a failed war would lead to Communism spreading further and further across the map. (Some hawks used 1938 and Munich as their example.) Of course, we did pull out of Vietnam, and four years later the Soviet Union sped up its decline by invading Afghanistan. If you're allowed to switch up countries in this game, and the metaphor of the USSR smashing itself against the Hindukush mountains looks like what the USA is doing in Iraq, you've got a new category: 1979ers.

Advertisement

NEXT: Richard Rodriguez on the Terrorist-Illegal Immigrant Connection

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How about 1618? 🙂

  2. Or, well, really, 1623.

  3. It’s 2006. Never the less, getting involved in a land war in Asia remains the most famous of classic blunders.

  4. Sometimes, as much as I love history and think an understanding of it is important, I wonder if those who learn too much from history are doomed to repeat it 🙂 It’s 2006, and things simply are not the same as they were in the past.

    Except that we must realize that this is just like when Ferdinand and Isabella defeated the Moors in 1492.

  5. It’s 2373 and we’ve got to keep liquified Founders off of our airplanes.

  6. We’ll need a Sicilian president, Warren.

  7. Pro Libertate,

    I assume you are being facetious.

    Anyway, the Reconquista is a terrible historical model upon which to base the fight against terrorism.

  8. David,
    Ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?

    Morons.

  9. Phileleutherus Lipsiensis,

    You must grant, however, that there are no more Moors in Spain, more or less. Moreover, didn’t bin Laden list the Reconquista as one of the justifications for 9/11? Maybe I’m missing some deep point, but, um, the Muslims invaded Spain in the first place. Now if bin Laden wants to say (as a Semite) that this is all Punic revenge and that he intends to pour salt on the ashes of Rome. . .well, I can understand that 🙂

  10. Pro Libertate,

    You must grant, however, that there are no more Moors in Spain, more or less.

    Well, what a Moor is a complicated issue, but if by that you mean “Arabs” from northern Africa, well, there are lots of Moors in Spain.

    Moreover, didn’t bin Laden list the Reconquista as one of the justifications for 9/11?

    And?

    Maybe I’m missing some deep point, but, um, the Muslims invaded Spain in the first place.

    Well, Spain at the time was controlled by the Visigoths, who had invaded and took over the place from the Romans. The Romans themselves had taken Spain from the Carthagenians (the latter were from North Africa, though they were originally a Phoenician state – the same general area where the Moors came from). The Carthagenians were part of the Greek and Phoenician colonization of Spain. Prior to that the Celts dominated much of the peninsula. So who is the legitimate ruler of Spain given all that?

    I will that one of the things that came with the Reconquista was the expulsion or forced coercion of the Jewish population of Spain.

  11. Pro Libertate,

    And of course it spawned the racist notion of limpieza de sangre.

  12. David and Warren both earn a golf clap.

    *golf clap*

  13. 410 B.C. — Alcibiades, anyone? That ancient Bushie (and that Democrat lefty Pericles of course) did pretty much destroy Athens as the only than existing naval superpower with their inane shenanigans.

  14. 410 B.C. — Alcibiades, anyone? That ancient Bushie (and that Democrat lefty Pericles of course) did pretty much destroy Athens as the only than existing naval superpower with their inane shenanigans.

  15. 410 B.C. — Alcibiades, anyone? That ancient Bushie (and that Democrat lefty Pericles of course) did pretty much destroy Athens as the only than existing naval superpower with their inane shenanigans.

  16. about 1898-ers, who think that substituting 9-11 for “the Maine” and Iraq for “war with Spain” works pretty well…

  17. aikon,

    Is Iraq the invasion of Sicily (415-413 BCE)?

  18. Phileleutherus Lipsiensis,

    Okay, I’m hoist by my own petard of making a joke when a serious discussion is going on 🙂 I will stick by my statement that the Muslim claims about Spain are extraordinarily weak, given that they lived and died by the sword of conquest.

    To answer your question, most land occupied by human beings was conquered at some point. If you invade and hold on to the land, then you have the “right” to keep it. Moral authority is a different matter, but, as you well know, moral authority only holds up when you don’t look at the details too closely. I’m fine giving Spain back to the Iberians, though, because I have a fondness for pre-Indo-European cultures. Or to the Basque, if they can properly explain their origins.

    Alcibiades went wrong when he defaced all of the Herms, the impious bastard.

  19. am I the only one who feels like a 1984’er here? WooOOOooo Orwellian!

  20. its really 8,953 B.C.E

    Moog tells Eurg: “God not like it when Eurg track dinosaur poop into cave.”

    Eurg stabs Moog with flint rock.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.