Aren't We Supposed to Win?

Just after reading M. Stanton Evans's remarkable book, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies (New York: 2007), I was talking with a close friend, a man with a broad interest in American politics and history. Normally I don't inflict book reports on innocent bystanders, but in this case, the book was too important to ignore.

Soon I arrived at the key point: the fact that during the Cold War, the liberal establishment in the media, academe, and government condoned the activities of traitors such as Alger Hiss and thus endangered our national security. The central question that Evans raises is just as pertinent today: How could so many Americans, including so many apparently well-intentioned liberals, lend their implicit support to activities that served the interests of our sworn enemies? In the case of Alger Hiss, even after his conviction for perjury and proof that he had turned over classified documents to the Soviets -- tens of thousands of pages, as it turned out -- liberals continued to insist that he had done nothing wrong. Yet what Hiss and others did led to the enslavement of hundreds of millions of human beings in China and Eastern Europe. It cost the lives of tens of thousands of young Americans who later fought against communism in Korea and Vietnam, and it undermined our national interests around the world.

My friend listened patiently to all I had to say, but his response surprised me. "Yes, but we were doing the same thing. We were spying, too."

For a moment, I was speechless. My friend's comment seemed totally off the mark, yet I had heard it many times before: America is but one small part of the family of nations, and it has no right to consider itself better than any other. Our civilization, that of democratic capitalism, is merely one among many possible social and political arrangements. Western civilization is no better than communism or radical Islam, only different.

When I recovered from my surprise, I pointed out that it is appropriate for America to have a spy network. Our civilization is just and humane. That of our enemies is tyrannical and brutal. We are supposed to win, and to do so we must make use of electronic intelligence, advanced interrogation, and other effective means.  

"And so we are no better than our enemies," my friend said. "In fact, we are worse, because we have an advantage over our poorly-equipped adversaries. We have the advantage of stealth aircraft and unmanned drones. They operate only with IEDs and shoulder-fired missiles. Our enemies are like David going up against Goliath." 

M. Stanton Evans spends seven hundred pages arguing against this misguided view of history. Again and again, he insists that one should protect one's own country against those who are determined to destroy it. This should be obvious, but it is not so to half of the American electorate.

Nor is American exceptionalism obvious to our current president. In a major address delivered at Cairo in June 2009, Obama went to great lengths to insist that America is no better than any other nation. Quoting from the Koran and declaring "assalaamu alaykum," Obama asserted that the "new age" had arrived in which "any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail." In the context of discussing Iran's nuclear ambitions, he declared that "[n]o single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons." (We shouldn't?) Obama's bizarre solution to the problem of a nuclear Iran was to promote the elimination of all nuclear weapons. That should put the fears of the South Koreans to rest.

Again and again in Cairo, the president repeated the "no single nation" mantra. Speaking of democracy, he argued that "America does not presume to know what is best for everyone." Later, in his September 2009 speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Obama was even more critical of the notion that "any one nation" could be better than another, though he seemed to think that America might be worse. It is America, he declared, that "has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others." It is America that "has often been selective in its promoting of democracy." It is America, along with the other "wealthy nations," that "did so much damage to the environment in the 20th century."

According to liberal doctrine, wealth must be spread equally around the world, and this idea was one of Obama's "four pillars" announced at the United Nations. When the new age of equality arrives, none will enjoy an undue portion; none will use more than his fair share of the earth's resources. None will be wealthy, none poor. No one culture will be accorded more prestige than another. No one culture will be superior, and since no nation will be stronger than any other, there will be an end to war. Envy and greed will vanish from the earth. With an end to wealth and greed, the world will become a global paradise. John Lennon will be smiling.

This, of course, is the vision of the Leftists who now control the political system in the United States. The same universalist dream of utopia was shared by that section of the American public that in the 1950s supported Alger Hiss, that in the 1960s and 1970s backed Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern, that has turned a blind eye on murderous regimes in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela over the past fifty years, and that jumped at the chance to accuse the American military in Afghanistan and Iraq of torture and attacks on civilians. It is this same segment of the public to which Obama kowtows with his anti-American speeches.

Those with knowledge of history recognize the dangerous naïveté of these dreams of utopia. Never before in human history has there existed a condition in which one civilization has not attempted to dominate others. Never before has there existed a global egalitarian order in which one nation did not rise to become more prosperous, powerful, and prestigious than another. Human nature has not been transformed by the new-age thinking to which Obama refers in every speech. Fear and ambition trump hope and change every time.

What Evans demonstrates so convincingly in his history of the Cold War applies every bit as much today as it did in 1950. The American Left, with Obama in the lead, suffers from a dangerous naïveté. As in the Cold War, liberals today seem to believe that we should be "citizens of the world" rather than parochial defenders of our own liberties. But it has never been the habit of nations to make nice and just get along. If our civilization does not prevail, another will.

Dr. Jeffrey Folks taught for thirty years in universities in Europe, America, and Japan. He has published many books and articles on American culture and politics.
Just after reading M. Stanton Evans's remarkable book, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies (New York: 2007), I was talking with a close friend, a man with a broad interest in American politics and history. Normally I don't inflict book reports on innocent bystanders, but in this case, the book was too important to ignore.

Soon I arrived at the key point: the fact that during the Cold War, the liberal establishment in the media, academe, and government condoned the activities of traitors such as Alger Hiss and thus endangered our national security. The central question that Evans raises is just as pertinent today: How could so many Americans, including so many apparently well-intentioned liberals, lend their implicit support to activities that served the interests of our sworn enemies? In the case of Alger Hiss, even after his conviction for perjury and proof that he had turned over classified documents to the Soviets -- tens of thousands of pages, as it turned out -- liberals continued to insist that he had done nothing wrong. Yet what Hiss and others did led to the enslavement of hundreds of millions of human beings in China and Eastern Europe. It cost the lives of tens of thousands of young Americans who later fought against communism in Korea and Vietnam, and it undermined our national interests around the world.

My friend listened patiently to all I had to say, but his response surprised me. "Yes, but we were doing the same thing. We were spying, too."

For a moment, I was speechless. My friend's comment seemed totally off the mark, yet I had heard it many times before: America is but one small part of the family of nations, and it has no right to consider itself better than any other. Our civilization, that of democratic capitalism, is merely one among many possible social and political arrangements. Western civilization is no better than communism or radical Islam, only different.

When I recovered from my surprise, I pointed out that it is appropriate for America to have a spy network. Our civilization is just and humane. That of our enemies is tyrannical and brutal. We are supposed to win, and to do so we must make use of electronic intelligence, advanced interrogation, and other effective means.  

"And so we are no better than our enemies," my friend said. "In fact, we are worse, because we have an advantage over our poorly-equipped adversaries. We have the advantage of stealth aircraft and unmanned drones. They operate only with IEDs and shoulder-fired missiles. Our enemies are like David going up against Goliath." 

M. Stanton Evans spends seven hundred pages arguing against this misguided view of history. Again and again, he insists that one should protect one's own country against those who are determined to destroy it. This should be obvious, but it is not so to half of the American electorate.

Nor is American exceptionalism obvious to our current president. In a major address delivered at Cairo in June 2009, Obama went to great lengths to insist that America is no better than any other nation. Quoting from the Koran and declaring "assalaamu alaykum," Obama asserted that the "new age" had arrived in which "any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail." In the context of discussing Iran's nuclear ambitions, he declared that "[n]o single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons." (We shouldn't?) Obama's bizarre solution to the problem of a nuclear Iran was to promote the elimination of all nuclear weapons. That should put the fears of the South Koreans to rest.

Again and again in Cairo, the president repeated the "no single nation" mantra. Speaking of democracy, he argued that "America does not presume to know what is best for everyone." Later, in his September 2009 speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Obama was even more critical of the notion that "any one nation" could be better than another, though he seemed to think that America might be worse. It is America, he declared, that "has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others." It is America that "has often been selective in its promoting of democracy." It is America, along with the other "wealthy nations," that "did so much damage to the environment in the 20th century."

According to liberal doctrine, wealth must be spread equally around the world, and this idea was one of Obama's "four pillars" announced at the United Nations. When the new age of equality arrives, none will enjoy an undue portion; none will use more than his fair share of the earth's resources. None will be wealthy, none poor. No one culture will be accorded more prestige than another. No one culture will be superior, and since no nation will be stronger than any other, there will be an end to war. Envy and greed will vanish from the earth. With an end to wealth and greed, the world will become a global paradise. John Lennon will be smiling.

This, of course, is the vision of the Leftists who now control the political system in the United States. The same universalist dream of utopia was shared by that section of the American public that in the 1950s supported Alger Hiss, that in the 1960s and 1970s backed Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern, that has turned a blind eye on murderous regimes in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela over the past fifty years, and that jumped at the chance to accuse the American military in Afghanistan and Iraq of torture and attacks on civilians. It is this same segment of the public to which Obama kowtows with his anti-American speeches.

Those with knowledge of history recognize the dangerous naïveté of these dreams of utopia. Never before in human history has there existed a condition in which one civilization has not attempted to dominate others. Never before has there existed a global egalitarian order in which one nation did not rise to become more prosperous, powerful, and prestigious than another. Human nature has not been transformed by the new-age thinking to which Obama refers in every speech. Fear and ambition trump hope and change every time.

What Evans demonstrates so convincingly in his history of the Cold War applies every bit as much today as it did in 1950. The American Left, with Obama in the lead, suffers from a dangerous naïveté. As in the Cold War, liberals today seem to believe that we should be "citizens of the world" rather than parochial defenders of our own liberties. But it has never been the habit of nations to make nice and just get along. If our civilization does not prevail, another will.

Dr. Jeffrey Folks taught for thirty years in universities in Europe, America, and Japan. He has published many books and articles on American culture and politics.

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