April 28, 2011
Rollback? Bring It On!By James G. Wiles
Back before Ronald Reagan turned the world upside down, it was considered prima facie evidence of insanity to advocate "rollback" as the appropriate Western response to the steady advance of Russian and Chinese communism around the world.
Communist advances, conventional wisdom in the United States and elsewhere held, were irreversible. The Free World could be made to retreat. The Communists, never. Any other position was madness.
Political rhetoric and even written strategy might be otherwise. Under Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, for example, official policy was that Soviet and Chinese advances were to be reversed, rolled back. The reality -- especially once the Soviet Union became a nuclear power -- was, proponents were proud to call, realpolitik.
Two exceptions to this practice were the successful American overthrows of hostile governments in Iran and Guatemala in the 1950's. But these operations were (technically) covert and did not involve direct confrontation with the Soviet Union.
U.S. policy, in practice, was containment.
When anti-Soviet rioting and revolutions broke out in Captive Nations (boy, I'm dating myself here, aren't I?) like East Germany, Poland, Hungary, or Czechoslovakia, it was the radical right which advocated giving aid to the rebels. President Eisenhower (a Republican) and President Johnson (a Democrat) said: no way. The Prague Spring of 1968, like the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, died aborning -- in Hungary's case, in a welter of blood.
The one American effort to use military force to reverse a Communist victory -- the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 under the Kennedy Administration -- ended in disaster.
Granted, America might go to war in places like Korea and Vietnam to combat a Communist invasion or insurgency. Indeed, over 111,000 Americans died in those two wars. But, once the Communists won, the issue, respectable opinion held, was closed.
Anything else was madness. After 1976, with Jimmy Carter in the Presidency and huge Democratic majorities in both Houses, this rule was enacted into American law.
The result, of course, was American retreat. In 1980, the American people rejected that.
Ronald Reagan had never bought containment. He thought it was immoral. As a presidential candidate, Reagan advocated rollback. As President, he practiced it. And, ten years later, the Soviet Union was gone.
What prompts these thoughts, of course, is the Paul Ryan Budget Plan and the Democratic and MSM response to it. Once again, the word "rollback" is in the air. And, once again, we are being told by bien pensant opinion that rollback of ObamaCare -- like ending the federal deficit itself -- is not only impossible. It's unwise, even insane.
This needs to recognized for what it is: leftist propaganda.
Yet, some Republicans are buying it. Still others -- such as state governors looking to limit or curtail the power of public employee unions -- are moving actively toward rollback.
The Wisconsin budget fight and the Obama Administration's move this week (via an NLRB which it dominates) to force Boeing to close a new non-union factory in South Carolina and move those several thousand jobs back to a unionized plant in Washington State suggest that, at least on the labor front, the battle for rollback is well and truly joined.
An old saw held that, at any negotiation with the West, the Soviet Union's initial position was: "what's mine is mine. What's yours is negotiable." So it is, and has ever been, as well with American progressives.
The American left's position, since the time of President Woodrow Wilson, is that the needle may only move in one direction. The march of American "progress" may be slowed (or even stopped) for a time. It can never be reversed. Thus, President Obama's national health insurance law cannot and must not be repealed or defunded.
Therefore, it bears remembering that ObamaCare represents the fulfillment of something first called for in President Franklin Roosevelt's 1944 State of the Union address. In it, FDR told Americans that the Constitution's Bill of Rights, protecting the People's political rights, had proven to be inadequate in the modern industrial age. America, he said, needed a Second Bill of Rights -- this one creating economic entitlements.
Here's FDR's list for a Second American Bill of Rights from 1944:
Sound familiar in the Republican spring of 2011? Sixty-seven years on, the left's agenda remains unchanged. They're not done.
Neither should we be.