Thursday, September 18, 2014

Today in the realism-free zone

Behold the National Review in its infinite wisdom:

We can’t delegate our warfighting to jihadists.

Kinda slept through the entire Afghan-Soviet thing, did we? Here's the AP in December 1984, bringing Ronald Reagan into a story about the administration's apparent inability to ensure that enough high-end equipment ended up in remote parts of Afghanistan:

He added, "The Afghan freedom fighters -- the Mujahedeen -- remind us daily that the human spirit is resilient and tenacious, and that liberty is not easily stolen from a people determined to defend it."

Hey, kids: See if you can guess what triliteral root is used to form the noun "mujahed"! In sad news for the National Review, not only can we delegate our warfighting to jihadists, we're pretty good at it.

That's why we have realism, and why (in one of those rare bits of punditry that still merit reading six years later) Stephen Walt referred to the American press as a "realism-free zone." You don't have to still be sticking up for the Melians to be a realist, but you do have to begin by looking at the world as it is, not as your angry friend on the AM dial wants it to be. You don't even have to take sides for or against Reagan's Elmer Fudd approach to the parts of the world with funny alphabets and lots of brown people. (If realism had a T-shirt, it would probably say "It seemed like a good idea at the time" in Latin.) But you should have either the common sense or the common decency to agree that things happened the way they happened, because that's sort of essential if you want to shape how things might happen in the future.

To paraphrase a popular rallying cry from early in our national life: billions for defense, but not one cent for jihad.

Should we just take up a collection and buy the poor clown a copy of "Charlie Wilson's War"? 

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your t-shirt slogan: "TUNC VISUM UTILEM"

11:37 PM, September 18, 2014  

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