Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Reagan Myth

Ronaldus Magnus
There always seems to be a flood of Republicans, especially those who like to label themselves as conservative, that channel the spirit of the great Ronald Reagan when they attempt to justify their love of military adventurism.  Rush Limbaugh states that Reagan's strategy in Afghanistan is to "win", because that is what Ronald Reagan would do.

Tim Pawlenty unveiled his hawkish foreign policy vision Tuesday in front of the Council of Foreign Relations, basically saying that we will be in the Middle East until the rapture occurs.  John McCain wants to invade every country on Earth, as if we have the resources to do so.  McCain has rattled on about the growing sentiment of "isolationists", which in his eyes are anyone not approving of the concept of endless war.

I guess you can lump Ronald Reagan into the "isolationist" category.  What gets lost in all of the fog of channeling Ronald Reagan is that he was extremely prudent in his foreign policy.  In fact, he was less interventionist than the administrations before and after him.

Reagan talked a tough game to the Soviets.  He made sure we had our defenses (key word) built up.  Today, he would probably be accused of "appeasing" the enemy by even talking to Gorbachev.  There were no missiles fired or bombs dropped in the Cold War.

Reagan saw the folly in entering the Lebanese civil war:

"Sending the Marines to Beirut was the source of my greatest regret and greatest sorrow."
Reagan understood the gravity of sending our greatest asset, our soldiers, into harms way.  He did not take this lightly:

“(W)hen Secretary of State Alexander Haig suggested… bombing Cuba, the suggestion ‘scared the shit out of Ronald Reagan,’ according to White House aide Michael Deaver. Haig was marginalized, then resigned, and Reagan never seriously considered sending U.S. troops south of the border, despite demands from (neo)conservative intellectuals… ‘Those sons of bitches won’t be happy until we have 25,000 troops in Managua,’ Reagan told chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein near the end of his presidency, ‘and I’m not going to do it.”
We need a prudent foreign policy in this country.  We cannot be everywhere all the time.  We cannot win a war against a tactic, terrorism.  These expensive occupations are not the answer.  They are not yielding the results we require to keep our country safe, in fact, it is having the opposite effect.  The cavemen of Afghanistan are no threat to us.  Bin Laden is dead.  We are better off bringing our troops home and defending our porous borders.  Not to mention that we are bankrupt and have been financing $.40 of every $1 we spend on our overseas excursions.  We can no longer afford such reckless military spending (along with entitlements and other spending as well). 

Most importantly, thousands of soldiers have been killed or permanently maimed.  It seems like it's so easy for the old white hairs to send our boys off to these meat grinders.  Reagan was a careful steward of our military, and wouldn't put them in harms way at the drop of a hat, as evidenced by history.

Let's hope we can return to the principles of Ronald Reagan's foreign policy.

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