Something we owe W., &c.


A news report earlier this week began, “U.S. defenses could intercept a ballistic missile launched by North Korea if it decides to strike, the top American military commander in the Pacific said Tuesday . . .”

If this is true, it is in large measure thanks to President George W. Bush, who had the courage to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, at the beginning of his first term. Defense of this type would not be possible without that withdrawal.

The Democrats, remember, were hotly against President Bush’s decision. They were far more upset about the withdrawal than the Russians were. Joe Biden was particularly upset. Now vice president, he was then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said Bush was making a “tragic mistake,” one that would spark a “massive new arms race.” He threatened to cut off funding for missile defense if Bush went ahead with withdrawal.

We are not entirely naked unto our enemies; we have some missile defense, however incomplete and imperfect. And we have it because George W. Bush prevailed and the Democrats did not.

Bush was an infinitely better president than Barack Obama, and is, in my judgment, a better man.

Another news report began, “Amid mounting tensions with North Korea, the Pentagon has delayed an intercontinental ballistic missile test that had been planned for next week at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California . . .” The article informed us that “Chuck Hagel decided to put off the long-planned Minuteman 3 test until sometime next month because of concerns the launch could be misinterpreted and exacerbate the Korean crisis.”

Sounds perfectly reasonable. But North Korea’s new dictator does not impress me as the appeasable type. Neither did his predecessors, his father and grandfather.

This article is maybe the most repulsive, morally, I have read all year. It is an Associated Press report headed “Joan Baez returns to past in Vietnam.” I don’t wish to spend a lot of time on this article. But I will make a few points.

1. The article says that, during the war, Baez and her friends went to Hanoi on a “peace mission.” The North Vietnamese government, you see, “was happy to welcome those prepared to listen to its side of the story.”

Uh-huh. In general, American leftists were not all that interested in peace. They were not neutralists. They were interested in Communist victory — which they indeed got. So, unfortunately, did the Vietnamese people.

2. The article is keen for you to know that Americans bombed Hanoi. The article paints the Americans as crazed or beastly aggressors. There is no context, and no suggestion of war-making on the other side.

I have often quoted Vernon Walters, the late general and diplomat. I will paraphrase: “For over ten years, bombs rained down on every village and hamlet in South Vietnam, and no one budged. No one moved. It took the coming of a Communist ‘peace’ to send hundreds of thousands of people out into the South China Sea, on anything that could float, or might float, to risk dehydration, piracy, drowning — everything.”

You may know an old line: “War its thousands slays, peace its ten thousands.” You definitely know this one: “They made a desert and called it peace.”

3. During her recent visit to Hanoi, says the AP, Baez “closed her eyes and sang out the African-American spiritual, ‘Oh Freedom.’” How sweet. But the Vietnamese Communists, like Communists everywhere, stood for the opposite of freedom.

What does Vietnamese Communism have to do with a freedom struggle?

4. The article emphasizes Baez’s pacifism. She’s a lifelong pacifist, you know. Okay. And the Communists?

5. Baez spoke to a group of schoolchildren. And she told them about “her first act of civil disobedience as a 16-year-old when she refused to go home during an air-raid drill from her school in California.”

Has it ever penetrated Baez’s skull that people cannot exercise civil disobedience in Communist countries? If they do, they will pay a very, very heavy price. Baez is lucky to be an American but knows it not, it seems to me.


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