For many years, I was accused by the Left of not knowing about the down-and-out and not caring about them. I led a privileged life, making me indifferent to suffering. Of course, every conservative faced this accusation.
We were also accused of wanting war, or fomenting war. This happened when we advocated deterrence or even noted human-rights abuses behind the Iron Curtain. “So you want to start World War III, huh?”
I now hear these same accusations from the Right, or a certain kind of Right. The words are often identical. For example, President Trump likes this phrase “World War III.”
Last August, he was speaking to one of his rallies about foreign policy. “Do you know that if Japan is attacked, we have to get involved probably with World War III, right? If we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to do nothing. They can sit home and watch Sony television. Right? It’s true.”
They can also watch a Toshiba television, I suppose.
Tonight, the president tweeted against two of his Senate bêtes noires, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. “They are sadly weak on immigration,” he said. They “should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.”
Are McCain and Graham looking to start World War III? Are they always doing so? In any event, that will be the line from Trump & Co. as McCain & Co. oppose the administration — particularly on Russia. The Right is split in several ways, including this way: There are those who look favorably on Putin, Orbán, the Le Pen family, et al.; and those who adhere to an older, Reaganite vision.
I can tell you this about McCain & Co.: They are not looking to start World War III. McCain, to take one of them, knows a little about war. He is more opposed to it than most, for reasons you might understand. He and others have a heightened sense of the past. They are drawing lessons from previous wars in the hope of preventing another one.
Take Ukraine. (“Sure!” says Putin.) This country may seem expendable — faraway, unknown, and a nuisance. But the Ukrainians are not keen to be this era’s Czechoslovakia. We would do well to share that concern.