Climate Change, Mr. Secretary?
Just last week, Secretary of State John Kerry pronounced Climate Change the greatest threat to the international community. And this week, with Russia’s seizure of Crimea, the international climate has changed. The man is a prophet!
Let’s not forget that John Kerry’s keen insight into Russian character and motives goes a long way back. Kerry rode into the U.S. Senate on a sled called the Nuclear Freeze.
When in the late 1970s the USSR moved Medium Range SS-19 and SS-20 missiles into its Eastern European satellites, many people thought that the United States had no choice but to respond in kind. So clear and present was the danger that even the invertebrate Carter administration was prodded into action. Jimmy Carter promised the worried NATO countries of Western Europe that the U.S. would supply Pershing and GLCM cruise missiles to fulfill U.S. commitments to mutual defense.
In 1980, however, that wild cowboy Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter like a drum. And the Left here and in Western Europe saw an urgent need to get “on the right side of history.”
They began beating the peace drums for something they called the Nuclear Freeze. Their answer to the Soviet Union’s aggressive moves would be simply not to respond, to freeze in place. Some people thought the gambit savored more of being frozen in terror, like the rabbit before the python.
Don’t worry, Nuclear Freeze advocates argued. Once we freeze our own nukes, the Soviets will be forced by world opinion to withdraw their own IRBMs from their Warsaw Pact neighbors. This was their inspired plan.
Bill Hyland, a doyen of the foreign policy clerisy, debated the Nuclear Freeze issue with Harvard’s redoubtable Adam Ulam. Hyland laid out the case for not responding in kind to Moscow’s chess moves. We will be a moral leader of the world, he argued, and we’ll appeal to humanity’s deepest desires for peace. The rulers in the Kremlin will realize they are on the wrong side of history and be forced to remove their missiles, he confidently said.
Ulam, the legendary biographer of Stalin, melted Hyland’s beautiful ice sculpture. He faced Hyland and said in his deep Polish accent: “An’ wot will you doo iff they dunt?” Hyland had no answer.
Neither did young John Kerry. But his full-throated advocacy of the Nuclear Freeze was enough to let him sled into the U.S. Senate.
Our NATO allies, however, thought differently. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher stood staunchly by Ronald Reagan. So did West Germany’s Helmut Kohl. So, even, did France’s Socialist president, Francois Mitterrand!
After it was pummeled for a decade by the “Peace through Strength” policies of Ronald Reagan, the USSR collapsed in 1991. Then, briefly, the archives of the Kremlin opened just a crack. Thus, we learned that the Nuclear Freeze movement in Europe had been secretly pushed and stealthily funded by the Soviet secret police, the KGB.
Serenely cooing on his dove’s perch in the Senate, Mr. Kerry was never called upon to respond to these disclosures or to account for his dupery. In time, he was confirmed as Secretary of State in 2013 by a lopsided vote of 94-3. The Republicans, once termed “the Daddy party” by Chris Matthews, rolled over for seatmate John Kerry.
So now we have a Secretary of State who made his career being heroically wrong about the premier foreign policy issue of a half century -- the U.S.-Soviet clash. We may have to rename the Peter Principle for one who actually uses his disastrous misjudgments in the past to shinny up the greasy pole to the top of the foreign policy elite.
Today, Mr. Kerry is lecturing Vladimir Putin about being “on the wrong side of history.” There’s a delicious irony here. Putin, the KGB operative has heard all that before. Right side/wrong side of history is a staple of Hegelian philosophy, which is foundational to Karl Marx’s thought. In short, Putin knows more about History with a capital H than you do, Mr. Secretary.
Putin is much more likely to agree with Napoleon, who said “God favors the side with the heavier artillery.” Putin will take the Crimea the way Stalin took the Baltics. He will just roll over with his heavier artillery.
See, the climate is warming up already.