While the previous posts’ title titilated the imagination of many a reader, stoking an expectation that there would be some form of obituary for Irving Kristol in the post that followed (perhaps a eulogy by Keyboard Kommando?), alas, there was none.
Which brings me to this charming vignette, courtesy of blog commenter Harry Hopkins:
“I remember back in the late 1990s, when Ira Katznelson, an eminent political scientist at Columbia, came to deliver a guest lecture. Prof. Katznelson described a lunch he had with Irving Kristol during the first Bush administration.
“The talk turned to William Kristol, then Dan Quayle’s chief of staff, and how he got his start in politics. Irving recalled how he talked to his friend Harvey Mansfield at Harvard, who secured William a place there as both an undergrad and graduate student; how he talked to Pat Moynihan, then Nixon’s domestic policy adviser, and got William an internship at the White House; how he talked to friends at the RNC [Republican National Committee] and secured a job for William after he got his Harvard Ph.D.; and how he arranged with still more friends for William to teach at Penn and the Kennedy School of Government.
“With that, Prof. Katznelson recalled, he then asked Irving what he thought of affirmative action. ‘I oppose it,’ Irving replied. ‘It subverts meritocracy.’ “
Thanks Irving. Awesome.*
Speaking of making meritocracies work for you, remember kids, follow these simple lessons and you will rise fast in the ranks on your way to becoming a super serious chin stroking elder statesman foreign policy elite (because you earned it!):
1. Being “strong” on a given foreign policy subject is directly proportional to your willingness to blow people/things up, with as little hesitation as possible. Considering any other option betrays your weakness, indecision and inner Frenchman. Further, refusing to bomb a given country is always the equivalent of Chamberlain appeasing Hitler and such reticence will have similar results. Always.
As a corollary, supporting a disastrous war will always earn you more credibility than opposing a disastrous war. You probably opposed it for the wrong reasons, and would oppose the next catastrophe based on the same faulty reasoning. Better stick with the guy with the happy trigger finger. Just to be safe.
2. Victory can never be achieved by withdrawing troops, no matter what. Escalation, or continuing an occupation, are themselves perpetual victory. There is no point at which costs of an occupation outweigh the benefits. What matters is that other countries/populations realize that no one can ever make us leave a given conflict. Without that level of respect, we are doomed.
As a corollary: the only reason any conflict is ever unwinnable is because of lack of political will (ie traitorous dissenters on the home front weaken our spirit).
3. If there is an ongoing conflict involving US troops and it’s not going well, the answer is always send more. There is literally no problem that more troops can’t solve.
4. If there is an ongoing conflict NOT involving US troops, the answer is always send US troops. Bonus points if you can think of new and unique justifications to send troops into combat, such as to escort aid after a natural disaster.
5. Diplomacy is always weak. Merely meeting with a foreign regime is itself a gift of enormous value for the lucky regime. Argue that it will bolster the legitimacy and popularity of the foreign regime even if our leaders are extremely unpopular with the applicable population.
As a general rule, don’t give away your precious bodily fluids celluloid images for the mere possibility of reaching a negotiated settlement when you can bomb them into compliance instead (See #1 above).
6. The military budget must never be cut. Cutting it even slightly will leave the US instantly and completely vulnerable to the invading [INSERT ENEMY DU JOUR] hordes. The proper level of spending should be equal to, or greater than, the rest of the world combined. Because what if the rest of the world teamed up on us? What would we do then?
7. There are unlimited troops for unlimited missions. Never let logistics or pesky facts about actual available troops interfere with advocacy for more and better wars. Serious people don’t let such concerns interfere with being strong on a given policy.
8. Play for spite whenever possible, think of the world of international relations as a zero sum game, and treat every conflict as an existential crisis and/or the “Greatest Challenge of Our Time.”
9. Never criticize: Israel, any actions of US troops, the size of the military budget or any active or retired general.
10. Never question our motives, or suggest something unseemly. We are always and only invading other countries to help them, out of a selfless magnanimity. What do we stand to gain? Flowers and candies only. That is our motivating force.
11. Never suggest that our foreign policy choices lead to resentment/backlash or anti-Americanism. People are just jealous or evil. Some may also be brainwashed or insufficiently grasp the fact that we’re here to help.
12. Brutal dictators that support our policies are moderate, enlightened reformers slowly implementing democracy for their adoring people. Brutal dictators that don’t support our policies are dangerous extremists, and each the next Hitler (regardless of military strength) who need to be toppled for the sake of their long suffering people.
And so on.
(as inspired by)
(* This minor correction only bolsters my point. Or something.)