Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (An Anne Applebaum/Washington Post Edition)

Why on earth should anybody pay money to read this?

Anne Applebaum:

Supporting Democracy -- Or Not - [N]o one can claim that the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution has gone unmarked.... But as the anniversary moves into its second week, I'd like to celebrate in a different way -- by asking what, if anything, we in the West have learned since 1956. As many have observed, the American role in the Hungarian Revolution was hardly admirable. Although American governments had spent much of the previous decade encouraging Hungary and other Soviet satellite states to rebel -- using radio broadcasts, speeches, even balloons carrying anti-communist pamphlets -- no one was prepared for the real thing...

No, no, no, no, no! None of this "much of the previous decade" stuff. The Truman administration's policy was "containment." The Eisenhower administration's policy was also "containment"--but as boob bait for the bubbas Eisenhower, Nixon, Dulles, McCarthy, and company all pretended to be for "rollback."

[T]he initial American reaction was confused.... Only after four days of street fighting did the American secretary of state, John Foster Dulles -- a man who had spoken often of liberating the "captive nations" of Eastern Europe -- finally declare that the U.S. government did not consider the Hungarians "potential allies." The message was clear: The West would not intervene.... [But] Radio Free Europe was explaining to its listeners how to make molotov cocktails and hinting at the American invasion to come.... The result was a bloody mess.The Hungarians kept fighting even after Soviet tanks arrived, believing help was on the way. Hundreds died. And Western policy in the region suffered a setback from which it took nearly 40 years to recover....

Once again we have an American president who speaks openly and no doubt sincerely about human rights and democracy... Congress, the media and even whole fiefdoms of the State Department that dedicate themselves to democracy promotion.... Try to imagine what would happen if an imaginary group of pro-democracy Saudis staged a street rebellion in Riyadh. No one, of course, would be prepared.... By simultaneously supporting democracy and stability, we would anger the rest of the Arab world, make U.S.-Saudi relations impossible however the rebellion was resolved, and probably damage, in multiple unforeseeable ways, U.S. interests all over the world....

[T]he moral? Don't blame George W. Bush: Chaos in U.S. foreign policy is nothing new. But pity those, whether the Hungarians in 1956, or the Shiites in 1991, who take our democracy rhetoric too literally...

Nonsense. Blame Bush. And blame Eisenhower and Dulles too--Eisenhower and Dulles both knew better, but got into bed with Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy with unseemly enthusiasm.

With writers like Anne Applebaum so eager to whitewash George W. Bush, I don't think the Washington Post will last a decade.


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