When I was growing up, I heard one phrase, over and over: “We cannot be the world’s policeman.” It was usually said with an air of weary realism and reprimand. It was usually said by people who were opposing whatever Reagan was trying to do.
I was reminded of this when reading this Dan Hodges post about America as world policeman. We cannot halt the fall of every sparrow, of course. But can we save a few sparrows from being beheaded or enslaved or invaded? Should we? How about when the sparrows are huddled on a mountain, waiting to be killed?
Jeane Kirkpatrick said something startling, back when. I paraphrase: “Everyone says we can’t be the world’s policeman, sure. But what if there’s a world criminal? Will anyone check that criminal? Should he just run rampant? How do you keep him from coming to your door?”
In the months after 9/11, we published a lot of articles in National Review about how this new War on Terror would probably be another “twilight struggle” (a John Kennedy phrase for the Cold War). There was a new international enemy, threatening the peace of nations and communities.
No one would wish it so. We had a breather of, like, a decade between twilight struggles! Just enough for Bill Clinton to get his freak on! (And shrink the military. He called it “the peace dividend.”) And then, boom. Everyone likes peace and quiet. The annoying thing is, you often have to arm for it, and fight for it.
To be continued (unfortunately) . . .