Idiocy of the week

A leading thinker on the left finds strange inspiration from Ronald Reagan.

Topics:

Liberal journalist Harold Meyerson made an impassioned plea Sunday on the pages of the Washington Post for “containing” Saddam Hussein, rather than deposing or disarming him. Containment is indeed the most credible alternative to the Bush administration’s policy right now. It’s certainly more apposite than such mindless slogans as “Dialogue Not War.” Of course, Meyerson doesn’t address why 11 years of containment haven’t worked; indeed, why they’ve actually led to a more aggressive Iraqi attempt to get weapons of mass destruction in continued violation of umpteen U.N. resolutions. But never mind. The new position of some on the left is to be thoroughly indifferent to evil, genocidal dictators with nerve gas, as long as the dictators use it on their own populations and not on us.

The spirit of Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy is still clearly alive.

But to the idiocy of the week. It’s buried in Meyerson’s otherwise well-written piece. See if you can spot it:

“In particular, Sept. 11 has made it more difficult for opponents of the administration’s policy to argue that Iraq can be contained and deterred — not because of the merits of the case, but because it is easy to make the containment argument look like the new-age version of Munich-like appeasement. And never mind that after 45 years of containment, the Soviet Union was appeased into collapse. Never mind that Iraq is not a terrorist group that can flee to the hills: It is a nation-state, it is the hills. It could suffer assured destruction just as the Soviet Union could have, and it wouldn’t be mutual.”

Of course, the one question Meyerson ignores is this pretty central one: Why is Saddam so intent on getting such weapons in the first place? Meyerson ignores the most immediate scenario that a nuclear-armed Saddam would unleash not a nuclear war but an Iraqi state that could and would be used as a launchpad for a global war of terror against the West.



If we tried to stop it, Iraq would threaten nuclear war. And we would have no choice but to stand down. Yes, Iraq is the hills, which is why it’s vital to keep it from being the future headquarters of al-Qaida, Inc. Think of the Taliban with nukes, and you get the idea of what a nuclear Iraq would be like: a Bali explosion every other week — around the globe. If Afghanistan had had nukes in September 2001, we’d be having al-Qaida strikes on a weekly basis. And we could do nothing serious about them, except escalating into a nuclear showdown. That’s what Bush is trying to avoid. You would think at least some on the left might sympathize. But their hatred of the president and their suspicion of America blinds them to that reality.

But I digress. Here’s the classic in Meyerson’s piece: “And never mind that after 45 years of containment, the Soviet Union was appeased into collapse.”

Now I’m assuming here that Meyerson is referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union under the last president Bush after eight years of Ronald Reagan. So here we have a serious thinker on the left arguing that Ronald Reagan and George Bush first contained and then appeased the Soviets. Think about that. A rhetorical and diplomatic break in 1980 with the détente of the 1970s; a huge and costly defense buildup; financing and military support of counter-Soviet insurgencies from Nicaragua to Afghanistan; the pursuit of Star Wars; the refusal at Reykjavik to accept any deceleration in space defense spending; the description in London of the Soviet Union as destined for the “ash-heap of history”; the call on Gorbachev in Berlin to “tear down this wall”; the insistence on autonomy for the member states of the Soviet empire (yes, that one was an empire); the establishment of a united Germany in NATO; NATO membership all the way to Russia’s borders; and on and on. This, according to Meyerson, was appeasement. Appeasement? What would toughness have looked like?

Assume for a deranged moment that he’s right. Why, then, did Meyerson and every other good lefty so passionately oppose Reagan’s policies toward the Soviet Union in the 1980s? Why did they join the nuclear freeze movement? Why did they campaign against SDI? Why did they go ape-shit about support for the contras? If Reagan was such an appeaser, what on earth was the left complaining about? Similarly, what was the right doing? Surely they should have been accusing Reagan of being a complete sellout from his earliest days. Strangely, perversely, bizarrely, they weren’t.

The truth, of course, is that the Reagan era did represent a change in U.S. policy toward the Soviets. The West went on the offensive. We challenged the Soviets on every continent, we built up armaments even at the expense of massive debt, we rammed through SDI and we called our enemy the dread word “evil.” The pooh-bahs of the foreign policy establishment warned that a cowboy was in charge. The Europeans mounted mass demonstrations to protest. The “peace” movement rallied across the country. Sound familiar?

Next up: Meyerson on how Kennedy appeased Khrushchev into a backdown on Cuba and how Churchill appeased the Nazis into surrender. Hey, if it worked so well then, why not now?

Salon columnist Andrew Sullivan's commentary appears daily on his own andrewsullivan.com Web site.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>