In a lecture during the summer of 1990, famed conservative Russell Kirk gave an address titled, “Prospects for Conservatives, Part I: Prospects Abroad.” In it he detailed, in part, a cautionary warning to fellow conservatives of great interest and applicability to the political discussions of today. He said:
Forty years ago, Whittaker Chambers gloomily believed that in choosing the American cause of order, justice, and freedom, he was joining the losing side. It is said that Henry Kissinger, at the height of his influence in Washington, privately believed that his diplomatic endeavors were only postponing the eventual triumph of Communism and Soviet Union. How very different is our present prospect! (emphasis added) One thinks of Edmund Burke's rejection of historical determinism at the end of his days in his first Letter a Regicide Peace. Providence, or mere individual strong wills, or chance, Burke says, abruptly may alter the whole apparent direction of a nation. "I doubt whether the history of mankind is yet complete enough, if ever it can be so, to furnish grounds for a sure theory on the internal causes which necessarily affect the fortune of a State," as Burke puts it. It is possible, he mentions, that great and sudden changes in the affairs of nations may be the consequence of the "occasional interposition and the irresistible hand of the Great Disposer." One may speculate on whether during the past three years the Great Disposer's instrument may have been the Great Communicator, Mr. Reagan.
Score one for Burke and through the above paragraph, peer into the underlying angst seemingly on display everywhere among traditional conservatives. Further, while examining that unease, ask yourself this: how very different is our present prospect?
Re-examined in the light of today, that one line speaks volumes and has so far proven to be indigestible for acolytes of Ronald Reagan. Mind you, I’m not speaking here of mere fans of Ronald Reagan or others (such as myself) with a relatively new appreciation for his efforts as President of the United States. I’m talking about people who appear (appear) to not yet have come to terms with the fact of Ronald Reagan cutting and running from Lebanon after the United States Marines failed to protect their perimeter and were murdered by terrorists. There can be no doubt Reagan and many of his advisors thought of folks such as Russell Kirk when making that fatal mistake.
I’ve listened closely since 9-11 to the internal and external political debates in our political parties. It was that close attention that allowed me to resolutely tell the Democratic Party to get the hell out of my face. I agree with the analysis that President Jimmy Carter, whom I previously loved, failed to meet the foreign policy challenge presented during his term in office. Clearly, a line was crossed when Iranian radicals took over the American embassy and were never made to pay, and pay severely, for that act.
But a much, much bigger line was crossed in Lebanon . . . when our Marines were murdered. And Jimmy Carter wasn’t president then, the great communicator was. George Will and Peggy Noonan, among others, have a big issue staring them in the face and it may be a defining and uncomfortable one that essentially asks: does your present political reality constitute a September 10 world or a September 12 world?
In other words, do you really think Ronald Reagan, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and the obvious machinations of Russia in the Middle East, would be backing away from meeting the challenge head-on? In the region? With boots on the ground?
I'll have more of my thoughts in the days to come about the Russians not "losing" the Cold War but simply moving it to another battlefield. An Islamofascist one.