Imaginary liberals, part 6

The new issue of the Weekly Standard is full of great stuff on subjects that we’ve been writing about. In “The inconvenient truth about Truman,” Noemie Emery carries on the discussion of “imaginary liberals” that Paul has advanced in five installments here. Emery deflates a number of “myths” advanced by Peter Beinart, Joe Klein, Will Marshall and others criticizing Bush administration foreign policy. Emery’s article is difficult to excerpt, but here is a taste of Emery on the architects of Truman administration foreign policy:

The Wise Men who devised the formula that saved most of Europe–supplying regimes under pressure from Communists–ran out of answers when it turned out the regimes under pressure were too inept, too corrupt, or too unpopular to use aid effectively; and the United States was faced with the choice of letting them go (as in China) or taking the war over, as in Vietnam. Neither choice was in any way popular, and each ended badly. North Korea and China are still causing problems. Truman didn’t “lose” China–it wasn’t his to begin with–but the Wise Men, it seems, were not quite all-knowing. Do not expect the subject of Asia to come up all that often in these hymns to the liberal hawks.

Above all, do not expect Korea to be brought up at all. Korea, in fact, is Iraq on steroids, a compendium of every complaint that the liberals bring against Bush and his administration: a war of choice that began with an error, that became in effect the mother of quagmires, that cost billions of dollars, killed tens of thousands, and dragged on years longer than anyone looked for, to an inconclusive and troublesome end. It began with a mistake–Acheson’s omission of South Korea from a list of countries within the American sphere of protection, which may have led the North to believe it could invade without consequence. It was a war of choice, in that it was an invasion of a country to which the United States was not bound by treaty, but felt obliged to defend as a matter of principle.

Emery’s conclusion is biting:

[Beinart et al.] are right to look to Truman for a way out of their malaise and their quandary, but the Truman they create is part of the problem: soft-power Harry, Humility Harry, with none of the iron that he had in real life. They don’t like the real Harry–the one of Japan and Korea–and they don’t like his real traits, when they see them in others, like George W. Bush. This is their flaw, and their evasions won’t help them. When they own and admit the genuine Harry, people will trust them with power again.

I’m afraid Emery’s conclusion is overoptimistic, but her point stands. In “All the news that’s fit to prosecute,” Gabriel Schoenfeld judiciously addresses the law applicable to the disclosure of classified information by journalists. Schoenfeld concludes that a prosecution of the Times for blowing the NSA terrorist surveillance program is warranted, though not one for its blowing of the terrorist finance tracking program. Schoenfeld’s penultimate paragraph is key:

The leakers in the cases now under dispute are engaged in criminal conduct of a unique sort. It consists of disclosing to journalists matters that these government officials have solemnly promised, of their own free will, not to disclose to anyone. Prosecution of the leakers would obviously address the problem at its root. But uncovering them, when the only witnesses remain silent, has proven extraordinarily difficult. If identification of the leakers entails summoning reporters before a grand jury and compelling them to reveal their sources, we might see a pronounced shift in the journalistic calculus: The prospect of a contempt citation might make reporters think twice, if not about the damage they were doing to national security, then about the prospect of going to prison for a spell of 18 months.

In “Not as bad as you think,” Jeremy Rabkin evaluates out the Supreme Court’s handiwork in Hamdan. There is no one better equipped to do so than Professor Rabkin. He writes:

No one who reads these opinions with an open mind can fail to see that the dissenters raise a number of very strong legal arguments. Reasonable observers may differ on how well the Court’s liberals parried the dissenters’ arguments with competing precedents and interpretations. One fact remains, however. The majority could cite no clear precedent for courts’ intervening in wartime to overrule military decisions about the handling of prisoners.

All of these excellent articles should be read in their entirety.


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