The Corner

Republicans and War

A crystalizing anecdote from Peggy Noonan:

About 18 months ago I asked a potential Republican presidential candidate, in conversation, if he hated war. He got the dart-eyed look politicians get when they sense a trick question. This startled me. How do you not know the answer? After a few seconds I said, “This is not a trick question.” I explained I was thinking of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said, “I hate war,” roughly five years before prosecuting one with unambivalent vigor.

The potential candidate then stuttered that of course he doesn’t like war, but sometimes it’s necessary. Well, yes, sometimes it is. But why would you fear stating that war is hell, and hell ain’t where we want to be?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.