http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2006/07/18/BL2006071800423.html Approximately midway into his column he quotes one Paul Mirengoff:
“In an obscene attempt to obtain political mileage, the Democrats are claiming that President Bush is responsible for the outbreak of war in the Middle East. Howard Dean claims that the war would not have occurred if the Democrats had been in power because the Dems would have worked the past six years to prevent it. And Sen. Dodd has made basically the same assertion. Meanwhile, Rep. Jane Harmon contends that the Bush administration is to blame for our poor to non-existent relations with Syria and Iran which, she says, prevent us from using diplomacy to end the crisis.
“Once again, the Democrats are taking partisan politics to a previously unknown low. No past opposition party has attempted to blame the outbreak of an Arab-Israeli war on the party in power. Unless I’m mistaken, the Republicans didn’t blame President Johnson for the war in 1967; the Dems didn’t blame President Nixon for the war in 1973; nor did they blame President Reagan for the hostilities in Lebanon that occurred on his watch. Moreover, it is especially reprehensible for the Dems to be taking such a low road now, when unlike before, the U.S. is in the middle of essentially the same war as Israel — the war on terrorism.”
Mirengoff is the one who is being obscene. He quite hypocritically ignores one of the most infamous red-baiting events in U.S. history: “The Fall of China”. The fall of Chiang Kai Chek’s Government shocked many Americans (Who, if they had been paying proper attention to chinese affairs, would not have been shocked.).
(To give you the idea of the impression that China had on U.S. culture, I would remind the reader of a pithy little saying used by mothers up untill the 1950s: If a recalcitrant child refused to eat his/her food, then the mother would try this guilt trip — Don’t you know that there are children starving in China?)
At the time of Chiang Kai Chek’s fall the Republican leadership — who had been out of the White House for approximately twenty years — were desperate for an issue (any issue, really) that they could successfully attack the Democrats with. They accused the Democrats and the senior technocrats who were advising them of treason (Yes, I know: Shades of Ann Coulter.). So successfull were they that when Eisenhower came into office, he let John Foster Dulles be “bullied” — Dulles was a complete bastard in his own right — into enforcing the new Republican Politically Correct Orthodoxy: Anyone in the State Department who had said bad things about Chiang Kai Chek’s (corrupt and incompetent) Government was a traitor who had to be fired. They were and throughout the State Department the following lesson was learned: Beware of the leadership of Congress, because if they do not like what you say, they will try to get you fired. After that, the official analysis offered up by the State Department were always corrupted to the extent that would pass political muster of the Congressional Leadership. The process was critically corrupted by a Republican Leadership that was craven enough to violate the principle that “Partisanship stops at the shore.”
Because the process was corrupted, no one in the State Department was willing to oppose a policy that was favored by the Congressional Leadership. And so it was that when the political leadership declared that the French-created leadership of South Vietnam was to be supported, no one in the State Department dared to disagree. Thanks to the Republican Leadership, the Ghosts of China still haunted the foreign policy apparati of the U.S. leadership. A leadership that refused to lead when things went sour in Vietnam.
In conclusion, I’d like to quote one Hwun Yee Chen’s review of The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam (It’s the 8th review down)
David Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest” is a mostly angry, but occasionally sympathetic book about the can-do activists of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. I think this is one of the best books written about the Vietnam War. If you read it today, you will think about Iraq and feel very sad.
In a way, this is a book in search of a hero and there was perhaps no one in the country with more power than Kennedy to influence the way Americans saw Vietnam and Communism. He had made a speech at American University where he asked Americans and Soviets alike to reexamine their attitude towards each other, but that kind of talk was rare, and it was a speech, Halberstam suggests, that would not have happened had Kennedy not proven his toughness during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy, of course had enormous doubts about Vietnam; they were based in large part on his reading of history and his own experiences. But those doubts existed during a time of unreal pressures. The culprit is the Korean War and the fall of China to Communism. The fall of China, in particular, would have a profound effect on the American people. It would spark a great debate about who had lost China, and while there was no consensus (some believed that China was never ours to lose and that those events were beyond our control), the State Department and the Democratic Party would take most of the blame. According to Halberstam, the result of all of this was devastating. From then on, U.S. Presidents would find themselves under enormous pressure to not lose any more countries.
“If there were problems”, writes Halberstam “the Administration would somehow glide around them, letting time rather than political candor or courage do the healing. It was a belief that if there were scars from the period (and both the Democratic party and the Department of State were deeply scarred), they were by now secret scars, and if there were victims, they were invisible victims. If one looked away and did not talk about them, somehow they would go away. Yet the truth was altogether different: the scars and victims were real and the McCarthy period had frozen American policies on China and Asia. The Kennedy administration would in no way come to terms with the aberrations of those policies; it had not created them, as its advocates pointed out, but it did not undo them, either.”
This is quite prescient, seeing as it was written over a year and a half ago. Mirengoff is quite the hypocrite and bastard to willfully ignore this history.