2002 November 13 Wednesday
Max Boot: The Left's new love affair with containment.

Writing in The Weekly Standard Max Boot, author of The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power", discusses the sudden conversion of many on the Left into supporters of containment and deterrence:

The only time the Left showed any enthusiasm for deterrence was in bashing "Star Wars," as they dubbed the Strategic Defense Initiative unveiled by Ronald Reagan in 1983. After years of protesting deterrence and ridiculing its architects as crazed warmongers (see, for example, "Dr. Strangelove"), liberals suddenly sounded like Herman Kahn disciples as they preached the virtues of Mutual Assured Destruction. This wasn't a fundamental shift in thinking, however. They praised MAD in order to protest Star Wars, but argued against deterrence in general by advocating a nuclear freeze and a "no first use" policy on nuclear weapons. The Left's stance in the Star Wars debate should therefore be seen as a politically convenient, if not terribly sincere, embrace of an ideology they loathed in order to defeat something they hated even more--Ronald Reagan and his "peace through strength" philosophy.

Containment was even less popular on the left than deterrence. "Containment" is depicted these days as a passive doctrine of peace, as opposed to the warmongering of "preemption" advocates. The reality was a good deal more sordid. What did containment entail? It meant support for the Greek colonels, the Argentine generals, the shah, Pinochet, Marcos, Somoza, and other unsavory characters who were in "our" camp. It meant helping to overthrow rulers, such as Mossadegh in Iran, Arbenz in Guatemala, and Allende in Chile, who were seen as drifting toward the other side. It meant major wars against North Korea and North Vietnam. It meant invasions of the Dominican Republic and Grenada. It meant support for anti-Communist guerrillas in places like Cuba (the Bay of Pigs), Angola, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan.

Containment was chosen as the long-term policy to pursue against the Soviet Union because there were no practical alternatives. But when there are practical alternatives why should we allow hostile regimes to become far greater threats to us?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 November 13 11:45 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment


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