Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Peggy Noonan Puts the "Conserve" Back in "Conservativism"

Antiwar.com links to the latest piece by the former speech-writer for Ronald Reagan, the least bellicose president of the past three decades, which warns us that "America has to be very careful where it goes in the world, because the minute it's there -- the minute there are boots on the ground, the minute we leave a footprint -- there will spring up, immediately, 15 reasons America cannot leave" — You Can't Go Home Again.

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

What is often overlooked about Reagan is that while he believed ardently in peace through strength, he had a rock-solid commitment to peace. He really wanted disarmament with the Soviets, and his most adventuresome policies -- like Star Wars -- were designed to ensure a world with peace, a world that was not dominated by nuclear forces from any power. One of things that is overlooked by many today as well is that he offered Star Wars to the Soviets -- if the system was feasible he was going to share it, openly, so they could have a system like that too to ensure that they were safe.

Reagan was a cold warrior, but he was a warrior for peace. He built up our military, but as part of a broader strategy of ending the threat posed by the Soviets, peacefully and completely. He did not believe in perpetual war -- he believed in peace through strength. It is part of the corruption of the modern Republican Party that it cannot tell the difference.

1:28 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Right you are and thanks for the reminders. I'd also add that Mr. Reagan had the courage to "cut and run" from Lebanon after the bombing of our marines in Beirut, judging rightly that the situation in that country was not worth any more American blood and treasure.

Thanks especially for the reminder about Star Wars. Reagan was, like Kennedy, one of the men who helped spare the world from nuclear holocaust. I also salute Baroness Thatcher for recognizing in Gorbachev a "man we can work with."

I was a fan of American Hardcore Punk in the Reagan Era, so not a fan of our president (a friend had a "Regan Hates Me" t-shirt that I coveted), but I've grown to appreciate and even miss him over the years. Hindsight is 20-20, especially with the Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama regimes for comparison.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Oh, I was fan of Reagan during 80's, and had little time for Punk music -- I preferred classic rock and classical music.

But in the 80's, I understood what Reagan was about regarding foreign policy.

Best biography, IMHO, of the Gipper is by a liberal historian John Patrick Diggins. He understands Reagan far better than most on the Right do.

2:19 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

You were I wiser man than me about Reagan, but maybe not about music. Classical music, of course, is the best, but I found myself bored with classic rock, and punk rock was a breath of fresh air, as Neil Young understood. Thanks for the tip on the Regan bio.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Well, I hope Neil Young will remember, an [American] man don't need him around, anyhow...

Diggins understands that Reagan, like Burke, was a conservative because he was a liberal. As was Churchill.

As for punk, I was never a nihilist, so it never appealed to me. I grew up on a farm, was raised in the Church, and had a father who went through the meatgrinders of WWII and Korea. There was no room for nihilism. Family, faith, farming and beauty -- those were the keys.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

No farmer can be a nihilist. The order of nature, the beauty of picking pears from a tree, of looking at corn growing in a field, of seeing a calf run through nettles and clover. And with all that beauty, even the ugliness of nature has an order and a harmony to it. Jefferson was wrong -- farmers aren't God's chosen people -- but they do have a unique viewpoint on the realities of life.

3:14 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Amen, says this once-member of Future Farmers of America, who still hopes to fulfill his promise.

I know well your antipathy towards our third president, but you can't deny that his conception of the educated farmer as the ideal citizen was a noble one.

3:33 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I appreciate the Skynyrd reference, but I must say punk was not about nihilism; it was about a very conservative, localist, Americanist "do-it-yourself" ethic in opposition to the corporatist plastic culture spoon-fed to those of us not blessed enough to have grown up on farms.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Well, I think that when other people do the work of farming, it is easy to romanticize it. I remember a lot of backbreaking toil in my childhood -- not to say that it wasn't a wonderful way to live, but it is a hard life. Even worse in the 18th and 19th centuries. Jefferson writes poetry about farming (so does Virgil), but there was a dark side to it -- slavery, plantation "privileges," etc. Even the free-soil farmers had a tough go of it. Lincoln's reflections on farming always struck me as a necessary counterbalance to Jefferson. But I feel that way about most topics...

3:40 PM  
Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


Do you know what Noonan's image of "15 reasons America cannot leave" springing from a single footprint reminds me of?

The Greek myth of Cadmus, who slew a dragon of Ares (God of War) and planted the dragon's teeth in the ground. Warriors sprang up from the teeth, and Cadmus caused them to fight among themselves over a jewel until only five were left to found the city of Thebes.

3:31 AM  

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