Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Neocon Watch

LA Times columnist Jonah Goldberg, one of my least favorite Jewish intellectuals in the world (not as bad as Norman Podhoretz, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, or Dick Perle, but worse than Joe Lieberman and Allen Dershowitz), wants us to remember how bad Soviet-style communism really was.

In 1974, when the New Yorker reviewed Solzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipelago," George Steiner wrote: "To infer that the Soviet Terror is as hideous as Hitlerism is not only a brutal oversimplification but a moral indecency." When Ronald Reagan denounced the "evil empire" -- because it was evil and it was an empire -- he too was accused of absurd oversimplification.

The real brutal oversimplification is the treacle we hear from Obama, that victory in the Cold War was some Hallmark-movie lesson in global hand-holding. The reality is that it was a long slog, and throughout, the champions of "unity" wanted to capitulate to this evil and the champions of freedom were rewarded with ridicule.

Ronald Reagan also said -- repeatedly, it seems -- "Trust, but verify." Uttered during different times, to be sure, but this phrase was definitely one that articulated -- dare I say it -- HOPE that the Americans could someday enjoy unity (of purpose, of achievement, of leadership) with the Russians. Busting up the Soviet bloc was a major victory for the US during the 1980s, and with Gorbachev and Yeltsin, the post-communist era of Russia saw major advances in relations with the West. Unfortunately, the Putin regime rolled back many of those advances to the point where it's a little hard to tell the old USSR from today's Russia.

There is no doubt that Stalin was a sociopathic genocidal maniac, as was Hitler. Goldberg is right in the respect that Soviet-style communism rivaled Nazism in its brutality. And he's also right that we forget about the evils of both at our peril. However, after nearly 20 years of post-Cold War relations with Eastern Europe, and after the miracle of German reunification, we are seeing the reality of what hope and hard work can accomplish. Obama's speech in Berlin was not a spectacle of denial of the past, it was an expression of confidence in the future, in a world where the "...but verify" part of Reagan's signature phrase becomes more symbolic in nature, and the "Trust" part becomes more meaningful.

No comments: