Totalitarianism and History

Posted on


Not that I’m incredibly surprised about any of this, but if Larry Kudlow’s account of a recent Joe Lieberman talk is even vaguely accurate, the man has some odd ideas about American history:

Mr. Lieberman talked at some length about how the Democratic party has completely departed from the strong national-security principles of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy. He said those leaders clearly understood the need to fight totalitarian dictators and regimes, and that they possessed the moral clarity that can separate friends from enemies in the long-run battle to promote freedom and democracy.

The the Lieberman/McCain/Bush/NRO line on current foreign policy issues, you would think from this description that FDR wisely saw that Hitler and Stalin were just two sides of the same totalitarian coin and determined to fight them both simultaneously. Or that Harry Truman recognized that the U.S.S.R. was a new kind of threat that could not be deterred and launched a preventive strike against Soviet positions. Or that John Kennedy recognized that there was no chance to strike a deal with a butcher like Khruschev over Cuba and we had no choice but to go to war.

It’s certainly true that Liebermanism has some affinities for the Kennedy administration’s screw-ups — its over-enthusiasm for getting the United States more deeply involved in Vietnam or its decision to greenlight the Bay of Pigs fiasco, but those hardly seem like comparisons one wants to draw.