The embodiment of to what Robert A. Taft opposed is typified in the tearfully-written memoir about Richard Holbrooke which appeared last week in The New York Times. Warning: If you agree with the bogus humanitarianism flowing in the article, write me at once because you have been seriously overdosed with contemporary secular humanistic thinking where America’s role as Avenging Angel is sanctified until all goes pfffft.
The column appeared Dec. 16 was written by sob-sister Roger Cohen of the paper’s London bureau. Rather than my linking it here and causing my software to be drowned by its soggy writing, I recommend you Google it—but I’ll summarize it here.
Richard Holbrooke died last week suddenly at 69 from a torn aorta. His passing took U. S. Georgetown drawing room liberal globalists including media by surprise—and when it loses somebody like Holbrooke without much warning, it usually canonizes him. To the mind of this ex-foreign service officer who worked for the ranking member of House Foreign Affairs in the `50s, Holbrooke was the consummate liberal foreign policy idealist who never learned from his wide experiences in busy-body intrusion in globalism.
He received undergraduate degree from Brown University in 1962, tried to get a job as a reporter with The Times out of college, was turned down and settled for the U.S. Foreign Service.
A born “bright young man” in the JFK-LBJ tradition, he was promoted as a young foreign service officer to become gofer for Anthony Lake in Vietnam (1963-66). Lake was a top aide to Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. the notorious mushy Republican who had been named to the post as a conciliatory gesture by the man who defeated Lodge in the Senate, JFK.
Lodge will be remembered as one who played a decisive role in turning his back at Washington’s insistence on the steadily encroaching movement to capture and murder South Vietnam’s first president, Ngo Dinh Diem who was a pain in the ass to everybody because of his autocratic tendencies. What particularly irritated the Young Secular Braves in Washington was his fervent Catholicism which caused him to be skeptical of the revolution self-immolating Buddhist monks caused which caused anguish among State Department liberals who felt nothing was worth dying for.
In line with pragmatic short-range liberal intrusionist thinking it was determined by the Kennedy people in Washington that everything would improve if somehow the arch-Catholic (and don’t kid yourself, his Catholicism alienated many in Washington) Diem would be removed…pushed out or even murdered… to assuage the Buddhist monks and other more “moderate” South Vietnamese. This produced the quickening end of the War--after which the catastrophic mistake was later described by Ho Chi Minh in these terms: “I can hardly believe the Americans could be that stupid!”
The Kennedy brothers, Robert MacNamara and Lodge were not just an Innocent in that enterprise, twiddling their thumbs and whistling to themselves with eyes turned skyward—but they knew the schedule and rough timetable of what would happen to Diem. They gave a tacit nod to Diem’s enemies and waited for it to happen. Simultaneously the word went out to American generals in Vietnam that they should by no means seek to interfere or block what was to happen to Diem.
Diem’s fate was sealed on Nov. 2, 1963 when he and his brother were captured by forces led by Gen. Durong Van Minh. They were taken to a basement and murdered. For all Diem’s disadvantages, his removal and the tacit understanding that America played a passive part in his murder, irremediably worsened the U. S. course in the Vietnam War. A succession of leaders followed but they were all ineffective because it was perceived that America itself, by getting rid of Diem, was intransigent.
Thus the end-result was the debacle that has stained liberal mismanagement of foreign affairs since. Irony of ironies, those who sanctioned looking the other way when the murderers came for Diem were themselves slain--John and Robert Kennedy…as if the Fates determined to show America their follies. Well, the media resolved not to understand their weaknesses and have canonized both.
It is interesting to note that as with everything else involving massive foreign intrusion inaugurated by Democratic administrations, the liberal media—then as now led by the self-same New York Times—were in full support. In-educably they still are…until having aided in creating a crisis by their advocacy, they bail out.
That had been exactly the case with China when the impresario of Establishment thinking…an uncommonly good general but less than a statesman… Gen. George Marshall [ret.] insisted Chiang Kai Shek accept Mao’s Communists into a coalition government. Rightly, Chiang refused; the U.S. halted its aid and Nationalist China fell to the Communists creating a problem we deal with today. Marshall proceeded from that error to the Secretaryship of State where he endorsed a plan written in his name by Will Clayton, George F. Kennan and Dean Acheson. Taft voted for the Marshall Plan reluctantly believing that economic aid to Europe might shore up the West but vigorously opposed NATO where he was indubitably correct. Were I in his shoes I would have done the same.
One would hope young Holbrooke who was an eyewitness to the Vietnam botch-up would have learned something here about the foolish micromanagement by liberal elites whom David Halberstam called in his book of the same name “the best and brightest.” All Democrats with the inclusion of the nation’s laziest Republican vice-presidential campaigner (in his hotel room by 6 p.m. every night), Lodge, share in the blame.
But addiction to the adventures of tinkering with nations and world peoples’ destinies gave Holbrooke a kind of near sexual tumescence. He was hooked and hooked to…what else?...the party largely of intervention and Dudley Do-Right self-rectitude which serves as substitute for legitimate religious experience—the Democratic.
So moving aggressively upward he drank heavily of the Metternich liqueur—going to the LBJ White House, drafting a memo that said, as if he could not fathom why, that Hanoi was winning the battle of ideals in Vietnam and America although he was witness to the major occurrence why. Still thirsting for adventure that would require his tinkering, he wrote a volume of the Pentagon Papers. Under Republicans he was a fish out of water; I met him briefly when I was Peace Corps public affairs director and he was being dispatched to Morocco as the agency’s “country director.” I remember our title “country director” enticed him hugely. But directing mostly blond kids from Winnetka who were tutoring kids in Marrakesh didn’t turn Holbrooke on. He longed to advocate ideas that would overturn tyranny--and in the early `70s he quit to become editor of Foreign Policy magazine [1972-76]. It was second rate to Foreign Affairs but gave him visibility. And it turned out, he was an uncommonly good writer.
With the return of the Democrats to power with Jimmy Carter in 1976, Holbrooke was back pushing his resume and landed a job as assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific. His idolizers say he “normalized” relations with China in December. 1978. Gee, how’d he do that? I thought Richard Nixon with his historic trip broke the Sino-Soviet entente and inestimably advanced the cause of peace. What happened in December, 1978 was this: we formally ditched our ally Taiwan and officially recognized the Peoples’ Republic of China.
Holbrooke’s great glory was the Dayton Peace Accords which ended the Bosnian war. We had no stake in it but Holbrooke felt Europe’s worst conflict since World War II mandated American involvement. Lucky for us it did not mean more than our own involvement in diplomacy and Holbrooke shone there. By the end of 1995 there were one hundred thousand dead. At his suggestion we pressured NATO to bomb the Serbs. When there came a pause in the bombing Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic pleaded for it to finally end but Holbrooke drew himself up to full height and said “History would never forgive us if we stop now.” So he continued the bombing and the killing to avenge the earlier genocide.
Holbrooke was one of many Wilsonians who urged wherever there is carnage, genocide, we must get involved—either physically or use our muscle to stop it. Sorry. I think that’s not our role. Sounds cold and detached but the first rule should be: Does it impact and threaten the peace and safety of the people of the United States?
If no, then other forces must be called to bear. This is what we were told the United Nations was to do. If it can’t….and certainly it has been proved impotent in many world crises…it should be disbanded. But barging in even if peace is ultimately accomplished should not be our role. If we are expected to do this as supposedly the world’s major superpower, we shall not be so for long…but bled white as we very nearly are now…by intrusiveness and over-extension.