Posted by Peter W. Schramm
The liberal historian John Patrick Diggins beats up on what he calls neo-conservatives (Commentary and Weekly Standard folks, mostly) in this extended essay on how liberals opposed Communism. A good read, even though there is much here to disagree with. Are these guys choleric, or what?
10:06 AM / December 11, 2003
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In many ways, a frustrating and
1. Diggins argues that the Soviet Union
was decrepit and not worthy of America
opposition in the 1970s/1980s but
also admits that the Soviets were
invading other nations, cracking down
harshing in Eastern Europe, and
obviously had over 10,000 nuclear
missiles. He argues it was broken
but then faults us for not intervening
to stop its oppression. If the Soviet
Union was so weak, why were we so
surprised by the Berlin Wall finally
coming down on November 9, 1989?
2. Diggins tries to equate American
policy with Soviet policy at home and
abroad. That is exactly what the
neo-conservatives and Richard Pipes
(and VD Hanson and William Bennett, et
al) are arguing against - that there is
no moral equivalency between the two.
The Marxists in the West continuously
and even continue to apologize for
the Soviet and Chinese atrocities.
3. It is not the student movement or
skeptics and relativists that brought
down the Soviet Union. Those thinkers
would deny the ability to make moral
judgments about the Soviet Union or
America. With the absence of truth,
feelings would be relied upon. What
caused the Soviet Union to fall was
the demand of millions of oppressed
people to demand their God-given
natural rights of life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness, supported
by those leaders like John Paul II,
Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan
who recognized an evil empire for its
objective reality and fought it
through both strength and prayer. Will
someone please tell the intellectuals
to stop using quotes around evil
empire - Reagan was right, it WAS an
4. Diggins rightly points out that
America did not prevent the ruthless
oppression of the Communists in every
case such as the Chinese students or
Hungarian freedom fighters. Of course,
one has to recognize, like Lincoln, the
real value of prudence in politics.
William Lloyed Garrison wanted to do
what was right, and we can applaud him,
but his means of doing so would have
destroyed the Union and not ended
slavery in the South.
5. Diggins tries to blame the Taliban
on the United States. He writes, "America chose as allies creatures from the caves who would prove that they were "freedom fighters" by detonating a Buddhist temple."
I guess that the U.S. is supposed to
anticipate everything. And, it seems
to me that the U.S. was responsible
for destroying that regime while most
of the civilized world condemned U.S.
policy because their relativism told
them that the Taliban werent bad or
even if they were, that the U.S. should
do nothing about it. After all, they
say, Bush is the real terrorist.