Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Kerry as Isolationist

Robert Kagan calls our attention to one of the sillier lines in Kerry’s acceptance speech: "As president, I will bring back this nation’s time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to; we only go to war because we have to. That is the standard of our nation."

America’s "time-honored tradition"? Hardly. As Kagan writes, "The United States has sent forces into combat dozens of times over the past century and a half, and only twice, in World War II and in Afghanistan, has it arguably done so because it ’had to.’ It certainly did not ’have to’ go to war against Spain in 1898 (or Mexico in 1846.) It did not ’have to’ send the Marines to Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Nicaragua in the first three decades of the 20th century, nor fight a lengthy war against insurgents in the Philippines. The necessity of Woodrow Wilson’s intervention in World War I remains a hot topic for debate among historians."

And then, of course, there’s Vietnam. James Lileks finds it bizarre that the senator should say, "I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as President." After all, doesn’t it suggest that the Vietnam War was fought for the defense of the United States? What must his old comrades from Vietnam Veterans Against the War think about his apparent conversion to conservative orthodoxy?

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