To the Editor:
The last paragraph of John Lovejoy’s recent article “Why We Should Trust Bush” begins by pointing out that his “argument sounds simple.” This is a drastic understatement. His “argument” is not only simplistic; it is dead wrong, based on limited or outright incorrect evidence. It represents a highly dangerous way of thinking in a democratic society.
Let me begin by correcting some of Lovejoy’s “history,” which seems to be drawn directly from Republican Party propaganda. He seems to believe that President Kennedy launched America’s involvement in Southeast Asia. On the contrary, it was President Eisenhower who initially dispatched military advisers to the South Vietnamese government. Furthermore, it was Eisenhower’s Central Intelligence Agency that began the planning for the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Lovejoy is correct in pointing out that President Nixon promised in his successful 1968 campaign for the presidency to end the increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam. After taking office, however, he promptly ignored that promise and expanded the war to Laos and Cambodia. Nixon did not actually announce the cessation of hostilities in Vietnam until the winter of 1973, one year before he resigned in disgrace. The opening of Red China and detente with the USSR were high points of Nixon’s foreign policy, but they were more than balanced by the bombing of Cambodia and Laos, as well as the CIA-backed coup which deposed Chile’s legally elected president and installed Augusto Pinochet, one of South America’s most violent military dictators. Lovejoy also makes the absurd claim that President Reagan “brought the Soviets to their knees.” He fails to recognize the crucial importance of (Democratic) President Harry Truman’s Marshall Plan in rebuilding Western Europe and blocking Soviet expansion there after World War II. Lovejoy also fails to mention the crippling impact of President Reagan’s defense buildup on the national debt, which exploded during his administration. Furthermore, I hope that Lovejoy does not count President Reagan’s outright subversion of the U.S. Constitution in his scheme to bribe the Iranian government and arm anti-communist terrorists in Nicaragua as an example of “consistency, strength and success.” Reagan’s “proxy wars” which Mr. Lovejoy credits with “collapsing” the USSR also included the arming of Islamic fundamentalist guerillas fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Among those mujahadeen that Reagan armed was a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden. This brings us to our present chief executive’s dad.
President Bush the First did indeed take the proper action in the Persian Gulf in 1991. However, he failed to remove Saddam Hussein. Either this was a mistake, which has directly lead us to the current crisis, or President Bush realized the perils of occupying an Arab state. This is clearly a lesson his son has not learned.
Lovejoy’s casual dismissal of Democratic foreign policy is as absurd as his infatuation with Republic foreign policy. In 1962, a military dictator and his Soviet puppeteers placed scores of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons 90 miles off the coast of Florida. Does President Kennedy’s handling of this crisis, which some historians have labeled as the most dangerous moment in world history, exemplify what Lovejoy claims to be the “insecurity, weakness, and abject stupidity” of Democratic foreign policy? Would it have been far better to unilaterally invade Cuba, as Mr. Bush now proposes to do half way around the world? I suppose the massive defense build up begun by President Carter and continued in the Reagan administration is also an example of President Carter’s “weakness” in dealing with the Soviets. I suppose that Lovejoy also believes that the Camp David Accords, which ended the state of war between Egypt and Israel, is also an example of Democratic presidents’ “abject stupidity.” Lovejoy may hold that interesting view, but the Nobel committee would beg to differ. And what about the Democrat’s “fetish for multilateralism and negotiation?” Most competent observers of foreign policy would agree that the intense negotiations undertaken by President Bush and Secretary Baker, which put together the large international coalition in 1991, were integral to American success in the Gulf War. Extending this “fetish” into the current administration would help our cause in Iraq immensely.
I suggest that Mr. Lovejoy gets a firmer grip on his post-war history before he makes such unsupportable and irresponsible claims.
Joshua L. Nachowitz
Fourth-year Political Science Concentrator