Thinking Citizen Blog — A Big Forgotten Decision by the “Weak” George H. W. Bush
Thinking Citizen Blog — Monday is Foreign Policy Day
Today’s Topic: A Big Forgotten Decision by the “Weak” George H. W. Bush
The denuclearization of the Ukraine in 1991 is a largely forgotten chapter in the history of the Cold War. Recently, an article by Peggy Noonan, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Wall Street Journal, reminded me of its historical significance. At the time, Noonan, along with such conservatives as Willam Safire of the New York Times was a harsh critic of Bush’s “weakness.” These criticisms contributed to the failure of Bush’s re-election bid in 1992. She now feels that President Bush was right and she and Safire were wrong. Where would the world be today if Ukraine had nuclear weapons? How many political commentators on the left of the right have shown the courage to admit their past mistakes? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE PRESIDENT WHO DID NOT FEAR BEING SEEN AS WEAK — GEORGE H.W. BUSH
1. Bush basically helped Russia get the nuclear missiles in Ukraine rather than fan the flames of Ukrainian nationalism.
2. For this, he was denounced as a spineless “chicken” by Safire, Noonan and others.
3. Today Noonan’s conclusion is that the denuclearization of the Ukraine and subsequent dismantling of the arsenal were “one of the great and still not sufficiently heralded moments of the Cold War.” I am in full agreement.
ARE SANCTIONS OF ANY USE, REALLY? COULD MILITARY POSTURING IGNITE A SPARK THAT LIGHTS UP A NUCLEAR INFERNO? DO YOUNG FIELD COMMANDERS FULLY APPRECIATE THE HORRORS OF HIROSHIMA?
1. “It’s hard not to be skeptical of sanctions as a deterrent to Russia. Aren’t we sort of sanctioned out? Does Vladimir Putin really fear them? Hasn’t he already factored them in?”
2. Noonan is also “wary of of other responses: US troops on heightened alert, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization reinforcing Eastern Europe with ships and fighter jets. Doesn’t this carry the potential for a spark that turns into a fire?”
3. Do our forty-five year field commanders only have a very fuzzy appreciation for the horrors of Hiroshima?
THE PERILS OF SHORT TERM THINKING AND A HISTORY OF GOOD LUCK
1. “We’re used to being lucky. Luck is a bad thing to get used to. If I read Mr. Putin right, he wants the fruits of war without war, in line with the leaders of the Soviet system whose end he still mourns.”
2. “The difference is those leaders were impressed by us and factored that into their calculations. Mr. Putin isn’t.”
3. “A lot of people aren’t impressed by us anymore. The long term answer to that is not to beat our breasts and should “USA!” but to become more impressive in terms of our economic strength, political leaders, and character as a people. But we are in the short term.”
Here is a link to the last four years of posts organized by theme:
Please share the coolest or most important thing you learned in the last week, month, or year related to foreign policy. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in our life related to foreign policy.
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to consolidate in your memory something important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is the key to depth of thought. The prospect of imminent publication, like hanging and final exams, concentrates the mind. A useful life long habit.