Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) served in the United States Navy, and his military record, via Wikipedia, is shown at the right. Not in combat himself, he nevertheless saw what happened to our soldiers and Marines in the meatgrinder that was Fallajuh.
Bill Kristol, born on December 23, 1952, is the son of Irving Kristol, who has been the managing editor of Commentary and founder of the magazine The Public Interest, “and was described by Jonah Goldberg as the ‘godfather of neoconservatism.’” A son of privilege, Mr Kristol was educated in a tony private school before matriculating to Harvard. In and around government for much of his career, and the author, with Lawrence Kaplan, wrote The War Over Iraq: America’s Mission and Saddam’s Tyranny, which Amazon describes as:
(T)o understand why we must fight Saddam, the authors assert, it is necessary to go beyond the details of his weapons of mass destruction, his past genocidal actions against Iran and his own people, and the U.N. resolutions he has ignored. The explanation begins with how the dominant policy ideas of the last decade–Clintonian liberalism and Republican realpolitik–led American policymakers to turn a blind eye to the threat Iraq has posed for well over a decade. As Kristol and Kaplan make clear, the war over Iraq is in large part a war of competing ideas about America’s role in the world. The authors provide the first comprehensive explanation of the strategy of “preemption” guiding the Bush Administration in dealing with this crisis. They show that American foreign policy for the 21st century is being forged in the crucible of our response to Saddam. The war over Iraq will presumably be the end of Saddam Hussein. But it will be the beginning of a new era in American foreign policy. William Kristol and Lawrence Kaplan are indispensable guides to the era that lies ahead.
One thing Mr Kristol did not do was ever serve in the military.
And so I came to this tweet from Mr Kristol, which directed me to an attack article in The Bulwark:
His recent remarks about the war have been cynical and deceptive.
by Willian Saletan | Wednesday, March 15, 2023 | 5:30 AM EDT
Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, bills himself as an enforcer. Speaking in Iowa last Friday as he prepared to run for president, DeSantis bragged about capturing Haitian migrants and sending the National Guard to control “BLM riots.”
“There’s a new sheriff in town,” he told an audience in Des Moines. He boasted that Sheriff DeSantis was finally taking on one of America’s worst villains: the Walt Disney Company. He proudly informed the crowd that he was “staring down the mouse” and “delivering them the biggest defeat” Disney had suffered in Florida.
That’s DeSantis’s idea of courage: rounding up boat people and stripping tax breaks from Mickey Mouse. But when a real menace emerges—hundreds of thousands of Russian troops invading Ukraine and slaughtering civilians—DeSantis chickens out. He preaches appeasement and blames America.
So, who is author William Saletan? His Wikipedia biography is a bit sparse, but it says nothing about him having ever served in the military. It does say that:
In 2002, Saletan wrote that the George W. Bush administration had failed to prove its asserted connections between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. In addition, he expressed concern about “an American policy of trigger-happy pre-emption.” But he argued that non-intervention in Iraq’s nuclear program was also dangerous. During the United States Senate debate over whether to authorize the use of force in Iraq, Saletan described the authorization as leverage that could pressure the United Nations Security Council to enforce its resolutions against Iraq. He concluded that although he distrusted Bush, he would support the authorization because “I don’t trust the French, Russian, or Chinese governments to do anything to Iraq that interferes with their commercial or political interests.”
I will admit it: there’s a real irony in the two neocons who never wore the uniform saying that someone who not only did, but served in a combat zone and saw American casualties, has “chicken(ed) out”. Mr Kristol, who never met a war that he didn’t intellectually support, and Mr Saletan, who supported the invasion of Iraq, at least far enough to support the Authorization to Use Military Force, which enabled that invasion, are just wholly upset because Governor DeSantis does not want the United States involved in another war.
So, what happened in Iraq? Well, 4,431 American soldiers were killed there, with another 31,994 wounded. As far as Iraqis, the number of deaths has been the subject od wild-eyed guesstimates, but every guesstimate is in the low-to-mid six-figure range. Today, Iraq is a nation which has undergone changes in government, but none of them have been anything Americans would see as good. We went into Afghanistan, which we had to do, to pursue and destroy Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, but after twenty years, twenty years! we finally pulled out, after “2,402 United States military deaths 1,921 of these deaths were the result of hostile action. 20,713 American servicemembers were also wounded in action during the war. In addition, 18 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives also died in Afghanistan. Further, there were 1,822 civilian contractor fatalities.” Yet the same Taliban government, albeit a younger generation of them, control Afghanistan today.
The Russo-Ukrainian War? It might be closer to the set-piece, traditional European war with an actual combat front, but does that mean we can provide enough money and war materiel for Ukraine to drive Russian forces out of the country? Thomas Meaney, in an OpEd published in The New York Times,, said:
The trouble is that Ukraine has only one surefire way of accomplishing this feat (defeating Russia and expelling Russian forces from all of Ukraine) in the near term: direct NATO involvement in the war. Only the full, Desert Storm style of deployment of NATO and U.S. troops and weaponry could bring about a comprehensive Ukrainian victory in a short period of time. (Never mind that such a deployment would most likely shorten the odds of one of the grimmer prospects of the war: The more Russia loses, the more it is likely to resort to nuclear weapons.)
President Kennedy introduced a few American troops into South Vietnam, as trainers and advisers, but it never stopped there. With escalation after escalation, 58,220 Americans gave their lives in Vietnam — a war in which Mr Kristol was of age to have volunteered and served, but he didn’t — and another 304,000 were wounded, and the Communists still took over the country after we left. How likely is it that, if American and NATO aid to Ukraine continues, and the war grinds on and on, that eventually there will be American and NATO troops directly fighting the Russians?
Of course, Messrs Kristol and Saletan won’t be casualties of the war in Ukraine, unless it results in a strategic nuclear exchange, which is not completely out of the realm of possibility. Their children won’t serve on the front lines. But in their ghoulish glee, there will be plenty of men and women and children killed in that war.
If the next President, someone smarter than Joe Biden — which would include almost anyone else! — decides that no, we’re done pouring money and materiel into Ukraine, it would mean that the war would go on and on until one side wins and one side loses. No, we don’t want Russia to win that war, but I want Russia to lose that war far less than I want to keep the United States out of it.
There is, of course, what Mr Meaney said: “The more Russia loses, the more it is likely to resort to nuclear weapons.” That’s the difference between Vietnam and Korea and Iraq and Afghanistan: none of our enemies had nuclear weapons, and none of them had what Russia has, a strategic nuclear arsenal capable of striking anywhere in the United States, over literally thousands of targets. Is the fight to keep Ukraine independent worth even one American city being incinerated in a nuclear fireball? Many people, including some a lot smarter than me, think that’s simply not a concern, but the probabilities are not zero, and a lot of other people, also including some a lot smarter than me, believe that if Russia really does begin to lose, the chances that a ‘tactical’ nuclear weapon will be used against Ukrainian troops or logistics depots increase.
If the nuclear threshold is crossed, only the Lord knows if and how that would spread.
So, Messrs Kristol and Saletan think Governor DeSantis is “chicken” because he doesn’t want the US to fight in Ukraine. As President, Mr DeSantis would be in no more danger than Messrs Kristol and Saletan. But there are a lot of Americans who could wind up fighting and dying if the two neoconservatives get their way, and if Mr DeSantis is “chicken” when it comes to their lives, I say that’s a good thing.
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