Stoller's Brain Dump

The beauty of blogging is that it is raw. You might edit a little bit, but it basically just comes out. In that regard it is very personal. Matt Stoller today went off about the Iraq war spending bill, and basically dumped his timeline of recent political history.

In a nutshell, he thinks the New Deal Dems sold out to fight the Cold War and didn’t have the nuts to shut down segregation. The result was a “national security state” that has brought us Vietnam and Iraq. That’s an interesting narrative, but his historical turning point is the Taft-Hartley Act.

To me I think this sort of typifies the glossing over of the Cold War by a lot of liberal narratives. It’s easy enough to say with 20/20 hindsight that the Soviet Union was never going to attack us or Western Europe, that the military spending and infrastructure created to stave them off was a waste, and getting into the arms race was nuts.

But I think it’s always instructive to look at how the Cold War ended. It ended when the Hungarians took down their fences, and people began to vote with their feet. Even after decades of tyranny and propaganda, people were willing to leave everything behind them to escape. It’s also tough for liberals to admit that Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were key figures in that victory, but they were. (Reagan remains the only US president to ever publicly call for a worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons.)

So, the whole we sold out the poor to fight the commies theory, even if correct, might not have been such a bad trade in the long run, even for the poor. And the selling out the blacks theory? LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act, after all. So, I’m not sure how that theory carries much water.

The reason it took so long to get the US out of Vietnam was simply that “peace” was not a comprehensive foreign policy at the time. It was the misidentification of the organic revolution in Vietnam with Maoist and Stalinist totalitarianism that was the problem. Hell, the Vietnamese communists even went to war to stop the most evil regime in history, the Khmer Rouge. Would we really wish to let millions of people succumb to a totalitarian, genocidal regime like that of Hitler or Stalin or Mao? As unpopular as the Korean War was at the time, it is not easy to see what the end result was for those in the North.

In other words, Vietnam was a botched, failed, and misinformed implementation of an overall sound, winning policy: containment of “communism” (by which we meant totalitarian communism).

The Iraq war has no such grounding. It is not grounded in an overall sound policy, nor in a winning one. It is not the logical extension of a 20 year historical arc serving America’s interest in promoting a bizarre yet stable world order.

It is just a vehicle for the enrichment of the few.