A Strategy for the Coming Cold War
There was a clarifying element to the Cold War. It’s something to remember as politicians and intellectuals scramble to work out their positions on Ukraine, Communist China, or the articles of appeasement being drafted with Iran.
The report by our Benny Avni this morning on the outbreak of the Second Cold War reminds us of a dinner party we hosted in the 1990s. It was a sitting in honor of Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune, and soon we were carrying on about the dangers of communism — until our guest of honor said: “In case you haven’t noticed, the Cold War has ended.”
“Well,” we growled, “no wonder we’re in such a mess.”
It wasn’t our intention, then or now, to make light of the Cold War. The conflict between the free and communist worlds was an often cruel and desperate struggle, in which millions suffered and many died. Some of its battles, such as Korea and Vietnam, were plenty hot. There was, though, a clarifying element to the Cold War. Soviet Communism deserved to be defeated. For America and our allies, it was a just and existential war.
Not everyone appreciated that at the time, of course (ask the GIs who returned from Vietnam). Yet it’s something to remember as our politicians and public intellectuals — or do we repeat ourselves? — scramble to work out their positions on Ukraine, say, or Communist China, or the articles of appeasement being drafted with Iran. Or, for that matter, the Brexit campaign by which Britain, by the skin of its teeth, escaped Europe.
We don’t mind saying that the Cold War — and Global War on Terror — changed us, at least somewhat. We still nurse a neo-conservative hawkish streak that sees the logic of our going to war in, say, Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention Vietnam. We still feel a great admiration for the heroes of the Cold War, including its intellectual supporters. Yet we have come to have an admiration for those with a libertarian bent, such as Ron Paul.
We can imagine, if only imagine, him being right at home with George Washington, as our first president sketched his farewell address warning against European entanglements. We were the only newspaper in America to endorse Dr. Paul’s bill, introduced after 9/11, to authorize $40 billion in bounties and to grant the president authority to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal to private parties prepared to set out to find Osama bin Laden.
Dr. Paul didn’t want to spend trillions going after bin Laden. He fears that war is a friend of the state. He wants an honest dollar and, if we understand him, sees the collapse in the value of American money as an opening for our foes. Not to dwell on Ron Paul, except to note that his concerns need to be reckoned with. We need a new leader who can synthesize these two camps into a strategy for an American victory of the sort that President Reagan won.
As things currently stand, it’s hard to see a Democrat leading this fight. Our Caroline Vik does have an interview with a former congressman, Max Rose, a veteran from Staten Island who seeks to get back into the House and argues for a twilight war in Russian-occupied Ukraine. Most Democrats, though, are still recovering from forcing our retreat in Vietnam, voting to defund the Iraq war after voting for it, and surrendering Afghanistan.
President Biden has spent much of his first year in office seeking to curb our own energy production while plumping for European gas deals with the Russians. It’s hard to imagine him reopening our own energy production while trying to impose sanctions on the Russ camarilla. The way to win this new Cold War is to elect a Republican congress and build a big tent party of hawks and limited government libertarians. Reagan won 44 states for his first term, 49 for his second, and the Cold War to boot.