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'Realism' and reason: why neoconservatism is still relevant

I'm fascinated by he recent trend in the media toward using the term "realism" as a synonym for the abdication of America's responsibility as the world's leading power.

International stability has always depended on somebody leading the world's response to aggression and threats to its collective security. The insistence by the Ron Paul/Pat Buchanan wing of the Republican party and the isolationist wing of the Democratic party on ignoring this fundamental historical reality is anything but realistic. A strong argument can be made that George W. Bush was a far more realistic president than the naive and feckless Barack Obama has been when it comes to world affairs.

It was such "realism" which allowed the threat of Hitler to develop- a threat which, if reacted to appropriately and in measured fashion early enough could have been easily avoided. It was "realism" which prevented the West from strangling the Marxist-Leninist threat in its Russian crib. It was "realism" which allowed the genocide in Rwanda, and which allowed Saddam Hussein's clear and amply demonstrated pattern of developing and aggressively using WMD's to reach a point where the  United States was goaded by United Nations cowardice into unilateral action.

You'd never know this, of course, by reading newspapers anywhere in the world. You'd have to read history to pick up on it, and do a little critical thinking while sipping a bit less anti-American kool aid.

And before anybody even says it, Saddam's temporary tactical suspension of that policy changes neither that clearly demonstrated pattern nor the fundamental fact that the threat he posed to peace would have had to be dealt with at some point. It might have been dealt with by less drastic measures had the international community been willing to back up seventeen separate UN resolutions with  actual enforcement of one of them.

As Roger Cohen points out herein, there is a point at which "realism" simply ceases to be realistic. It has been said that generals are always fighting the last war. Perhaps it's time to recognize that politicians and commentators often fall into the opposite trap of overlearning its lessons.

HT: Real Clear World

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