Just One Minute
Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Don't Tell People The Race Is On If They Already Think It's Over

Dean speaks, Time quotes him, Kerry pounces, Mickey opines, we join in. What do we make of Dean's comment that the US needs to think about its diplomacy because "We won't always have the strongest military"?

Well, I would be shocked if the US remained the pre-eminent military power for thr next ten thousand years (and if Google caches survive, my descendants will have evidence that their forebear was wise and insightful - HELLO, great-great-great grand Minute-kids!)

However, if Dean is contemplating the foreseeable future, this comment is irresponsible. As Greg Easterbrook told us on Sunday, the global arms race is over and the US has won. The world enjoys a $500 billion per annum peace dividend in part because no one is even bothering to contest US supremacy. If President Dean lets slip that a Newer World Order may be on the horizon, a number of countries may feel obliged to spend more in order to advance or maintain their position. The arms race is over, and will remain over if countries believe that they have no chance of winning it.

Now, why does Mickey let Kerry off so easily? Here is Kerry's defense soundbite, as quoted in the Globe:

"I personally believe and have said many times that I never want the United States to have a military that's second to anybody. That's been my policy always."

Second to none? If memory serves, that was an old Cold War weasel phrase invented to accomodate Soviet aspirations for nuclear parity with the US. Originally, the US was, and intended to remain, the premier nuclear power. However, we eventually acceded to a tie with the Soviets, and settled for the "second to none" formulation.

Does Kerry want to settle for a tie with some future rival? Who, and why? Right now, we are numero uno, head honcho, chief cheese - why give that up? Go, Mickey, Kerry is waffling again!

And Mickey leaves us with a bit of a headscratcher:

Bonus Question: Which country is most likely to one day have a stronger military than ours? ... Hint: What looks good on a white tablecloth! ...

Hmm. Turkey? Thanksgiving dinner must be quite formal at the Kaus-hold, with the fine cutlery and lovely porcelain plates on display. Well, if he foresees an Ottoman restoration, you can't fault him for lack of imagination. My guesses would be India and China - high population, India may one day get its economy going, and both live in challenging neighborhoods.

UPDATE: And does President Kerry see a role for Rumsfeld in a new administration? From Chris Lehane, as reported in Slate:

"A President Kerry, who will bring the perspective of having served on the frontlines … will guarantee that America has the strongest, best trained, most well-quipped military in history."

Most well-quipped? That could only mean Mr. Old Europe himself!

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