Common Defense Richard Falknor on 23 Oct 2016
Back in 2014, I shocked a group of Maryland activists when I said that advancing today’s conservatism without having considered Angelo Codevilla’s 2010 magisterial essay “The Ruling Class–And The Perils of Revolution” would be like explaining communism today without any familiarity with Marx and Engels and the Frankfurt School with its Cultural Marxism.
Last Tuesday, Codevilla published a new essay — “Make America Victorious Again” — offering his insights on peace and war in the presidential campaign.
Here are some of his central points. (Highlighting throughout is Forum’s)
Why The Foreign Policy Establishment “Detests” Donald Trump
“At the 2016 elections our bipartisan foreign policy class is near-unanimous, not so much behind Hillary Clinton nor even against Donald Trump. Rather, it circles its wagons around its own identities, ideas, practices, and, yes, livelihoods. Clinton represents the ruling class’s people and priorities in foreign affairs as in domestic ones, though she seems to care even less about the former’s substance. Trump, a stranger to most of the foreign policy class (though not to its current epitome, Henry Kissinger) has voiced views on foreign affairs that are within the establishment’s variances in substance if not in tone. Chastise and threaten NATO for its lack of contributions? Senate majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-MT) offered an amendment to that effect in 1970. Cozy up to Putin? Hillary Clinton brought him a bright red “reset” button in 2009.
Nevertheless, the foreign policy class does not merely reject Trump; it detests him. Why? Because Trump, in tone even more than substance, expresses the subversive thought that U.S. foreign policy has failed to ‘put America first,’ causing the nation to suffer defeat after defeat. Hence, the entire foreign policy class—in the bureaucracies, think tanks, academe, and the media—are a bunch of losers. Millions of Americans consider these two thoughts to be common sense. But the above-mentioned class takes the first as the root of heresies, and the second as a demagogic insult. Consequently, the 2016 election is not so much about any particular plank in any foreign policy platform. It is about who defines and what constitutes common sense.”
From Our Founders’ Views On War and Peace to the 20th Century
“. . . U.S. foreign policy’s bipartisan consistency for the past hundred years: grandiose commitments, then war, followed by no peace, prizes and honors for all.
Only President Ronald Reagan and, to a lesser extent, Dwight Eisenhower appointed a few people who looked at foreign affairs from a very different perspective, the common sense that had dominated American statecraft from George Washington’s time to the 20th century. The founders recognized that no other people had ever organized themselves around the proposition that ‘all men are created equal,’ making the Republic’s moral and political character unique. Because maintaining such a Republic would be difficult, it is and should be the American people’s paramount occupation. As students of history, they knew that international affairs hold out temptations to meddle in others’ affairs, to invite others to meddle in ours, and to foster strife among ourselves. And so the common sense of the men on Mount Rushmore—Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt—was as John Quincy Adams synthesized it: America first. Interfere in nobody’s affairs and suffer no interference in ours. Don’t go looking for monsters to destroy, but make war on whoever troubles our peace.
This is what the American people want and have always wanted. From earliest times to our own, people have come to America to live in peace as Americans, shedding ancestral interests, allegiances, and quarrels. (Recent immigrants from the Middle East excepted, many of whom nurse ancestral identities to the point of enmity to America.) Because America’s 19th-century statesmen shared the people’s peaceful America First perspective, they built this country into the world’s mightiest. George Kennan’s history of American diplomacy begins with the observation that by 1905 Americans could not imagine any harm coming to them from abroad.
Myths Arising from World War I Continuing Through World War II
“Participation in the Great War for the purpose of ending war forever left 117,000 Americans dead, thousands more wounded, and millions bitterly disillusioned. Then Democrats and Republicans competed in making moral commitments against war while cutting America’s armed forces. When war came, they blamed it on the unenlightened people’s isolationism and, once again, used the commitment to remaking the world to evade responsibility for matching Americans’ sacrifices to America’s interests in postwar peace. That, compounded by blind faith in Stalin and Mao, resulted in more than half of the globe under Soviet and Chinese communist tyrants intent on finishing off America. The American people were angry, and had every right to be angrier.”
The Foreign Policy Class: Islam and Israel
“Inexorably, Progressive foreign policy is gravitating in the direction of foreign Progressive forces. For Progressives, the benevolence of ‘the Arab Street’ and even of organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood is an article of faith. From government, the media, and the universities, Progressives indict as racists anyone who imputes responsibility for terrorism to Arabs, Muslims, or Islam. America’s Muslims vote Democrat. Any Progressive president would find it hard to depart from this part of his tribal identity, least of all Hillary Clinton, whose top aide, Huma Abedin, is deeply connected to the Muslim world. The Democratic Party, along with its bench in academe, has identified increasingly with Israel’s enemies as fellow Progressives. Surely and not so slowly, our foreign policy class has acted more and more as if Israel’s refusal to accede to Arab demands were the chief cause of the Middle East’s troubles.”
Patriots should take the time to read Codevilla’s essay carefully.
“Trump’s virtue in foreign policy lies in having voiced this simple, vital thought: U.S. foreign policy must put America first, and deliver victories rather than defeats.”
The fight to put America’s interests first — in the Congress, in the Deep State, and within the media — will only have begun with Donald Trump’s election on November 8.
Without the informed and energetic participation of the Trump Movement, much of the opportunity gained by a November 8 victory will be lost.