I’ve seen the claim that Saint Ronald of Blessed Memory was opposed to military interventions crop up here and there, and I don’t believe I have heard this one until recently — Dave Weigel reports:
Robert Costa goes inside Rand Paul’s campaign to block a Syria resolution.
His team is eager to cast Paul as an heir to Ronald Reagan, who, they argue, was frequently reluctant to involve the U.S. military in foreign civil wars. “It’s about reclaiming the party from hawks and putting us back in the mode of Reagan,” says a Paul source. “As we do that, we want to help him, so we’re pushing back really hard against the isolationism chatter. That’s not what he’s about; he’s about non-intervention and the national interest.”
Waving the Reagan banner to make a case for realpolitik is, of course, totally consistent—Reagan would speak ringingly of human rights and in the next breath re-emphasize that the “human rights first” Carter strategy was a disaster.
That His Blessedness was opposed to interventions really is news to me, and not what I remember. There was, for example, that Libya thing that Saint Ronnie began in 1981 –
Libya refused to be a proper Middle East client state of Washington. Its leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi, was uppity. He would have to be punished. U.S. planes shot down two Libyan planes in what Libya regarded as its air space. The U. S . also dropped bombs on the country, killing at least 40 people, including Qaddafi’s daughter. There were other attempts to assassinate the man, operations to overthrow him, a major disinformation campaign, economic sanctions, and blaming Libya for being behind the Pan Am 103 bombing without any good evidence.
Yeah, that’s what I remember. And then there was Lebanon — The U.S. was part of a multinational force formed in 1982 as “peacekeepers” in a civil war in Lebanon, so this wasn’t just a U.S. action. But as I recall Saint Ronnie was all gung ho about it until that little incident in 1983 when 241 American servicemen were killed in a barracks bombing. Kinda makes Benghazi seem like small potatoes, don’t it? Anyway, Saint Ronald lost his interest in Lebanon after that.
Then … on to Granada! Truly, that military action caused the American people to stand up and say, WTF?
And do we want to talk about Nicaragua and Reagan’s “freedom fighters,” the Contras? I’d call that an intervention by proxy.
This image of Ronald Reagan, Man of Peace and Restraint, seems at odds with the older view of him as the Great Serious Man with his hand on the nuclear trigger who scowled at the USSR and said, “Make my day.” Thereby bringing about the end of history, or something. I guess the real political genius of Reagan is that the Right can evoke his blessed name to bolster any position they want bolstered, even if it has nothing to do with what he actually did.
I’m shamelessly copying what Anne Laurie did in a post this morning. But for some reason, this Joan Baez cover of a Woody Guthrie song has been running through my head the past few days, anyway –
The song is about a California plane crash that killed 28 Mexican farmworkers in 1948. The farmworkers were then buried in a mass grave without being identified. More than six decades later, a writer named Tim Z. Hernandez, partly inspired by the song, did a lot of detective work and identified the people in the grave. This week a large gravestone listing the names was placed on the grave, and the song was sung as part of the ceremony.
I’m sure this song was on a Joan Baez album I bought sometime in the 1970s, and I always liked it, but for some reason I never connected it to a real event. Anyway — Woody Guthrie was a great man. Just sayin’.
Here’s another version, with Arlo G. and Emmylou Harris.
It’s been 50 years since the historic voters’ rights march in Washington.
Rep. John Lewis spoke 50 years ago, and he spoke again today.
The President made a powerful statement on race in America today. In the wake of the tragic Zimmerman verdict,
Mr. Obama eloquently rebutted those — like Republican Congressman Andy Harris with his dismissive “get over it” remark on Tuesday — who said that the verdict should have ended discussion of the case, especially talk about race and gun laws.
“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Mr. Obama said, adding that “it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”
He said there are “very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store” or “the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.”
“That,” he said, “includes me.”
It so happens today is the 150th anniversary of the assault on Fort Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts regiment, which you might remember was portrayed in the film Glory a few years back. The 54th Massachusetts was the first African-American regiment organized in the North to fight for the Union. The 54th suffered nearly 45 percent casualties at Fort Wagner, but gained immortality.
On this date in 1863, in Gettysburg — Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood attacks th Devil’s Den. The 15th and 47th Alabama regiments stormed up Big Round Top, only to be told they had to take Little Round Top. And there they were routed by the 20th Maine, under the command of Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Horrific fighting in the Peach Orchard and the Wheat Field cost many lives, but the day ended with the Confederates having gained little for their trouble.
Arrived at Pearly Gates asking, “How’d I do?“
My Grandpa finally home from the Western Front, some time in the summer of 1919, with Granny and my Dad. (Look at all the crochet stuff! Granny used to crochet a cover for anything that stood still for more than ten minutes. I still have a shawl she crocheted stored away somewhere.)
ALso, too, do read Gary Wills, “What Romney Lost.”