Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 19, 2009 / 28 Sivan 5769

The Too Usable Past

By Paul Greenberg


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Clausewitz defined war as a continuation of politics by other means. The same could be said of writing history. Every great rhetorician understands that history is an arsenal of arguments, and he chooses his with care and purpose.


Speaking on the 40th anniversary of the Normandy landings, Ronald Reagan's purpose was clear — not only to pay tribute to the brave men who stormed the beaches, but to unite the West in the defense of freedom. As it was united on June 6, 1944. One might disagree with that president, but there was no misunderstanding him.


No one would ever write a headline about Ronald Reagan like the one that appeared in the Boston Globe after Jimmy Carter had given one of his forgettable speeches: "Mush From the Wimp." It was typical of the Globe that the best headline it ever ran was printed by mistake; an editor had meant it as just a temporary label, an in-house joke, but naturally it got into the paper. At least in the early editions.


There was nothing mushy about Ronald Reagan's speech that day at Normandy. His point was unmistakable: "We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response…"


Soon enough the Soviet Union would be gone, and the Cold War with it. Fortified by the heroism of the past, Ronald Reagan shaped his present, and the world's future. A future free of the Soviet threat and the constant shadow of nuclear war.


This year Barack Obama went to Normandy with his own view of the past, the better to support his policies in the present. For him, the titanic struggle of which Normandy was a decisive part represented an exceptional time when choices were clear and values universal. Unlike these vague, uncertain times. Or as he put it:


"We live in a world of competing beliefs and claims about what is true. It is a world of varied religions and cultures and forms of government. In such a world, it is rare for a struggle to emerge that speaks to something universal about humanity. The Second World War did that."


Barack Obama's is a highly compressed version of that conflict, for if universal values emerged from that struggle, they did not emerge by themselves, or without strong leadership and constancy of purpose. Even by the time Ronald Reagan spoke at Normandy, 40 years after the war, an Iron Curtain was still drawn across the middle of Europe. And there were still many who could not bring themselves to take a clear stand against the threat posed to Western values.


Nor had there been anything like a consensus behind American policy as Franklin Roosevelt set out to prepare the country for the test to come. He did it by waging an undeclared naval war against Nazi Germany to supply the British, who stood alone after the fall of France in June of 1940. He did it by trading American destroyers for British bases, and setting up Lend-Lease to aid the Allies against the Axis powers. He did it by reviving the draft, conferring with the British on military strategy long before we formally entered the war, and moving every day to prepare for the gathering storm anyone not blinded by denial could see was coming. For appeasement had only whetted the aggressors' appetite.


Meanwhile, Congress kept passing neutrality acts, showing a fine impartiality between good and evil, aggression and defense. And FDR kept trying to get around them.


At one point an isolationist senator, Burton K. Wheeler, an old progressive from Montana, called Lend-Lease the foreign-policy equivalent of the New Deal's approach to agriculture, warning it would "plow under every fourth American boy." Though he did not accuse FDR of fighting "a rash war" or a "war of convenience," terms Barack Obama has used to denigrate American efforts in Iraq.


According to this president's simplistic scenario, his is the good war (in Afghanistan) and his predecessor's the bad war (in Iraq). He has yet to connect the dots between the two, and recognize that the enemy is the same on both fronts: the fanatical jihadism that seeks to unite Muslim passions against the West.


But this president has invested too much political capital in having opposed the war in Iraq to make that connection now. He's decided we live in a world of competing beliefs and claims where universal values rarely emerge, and so we dare not champion our own. At least not very clearly.


It is a cloudy world this president describes so articulately but vaguely. Clear away the phrases that sound so exact when he first pronounces them, and there is no uniting vision behind them, no over-arching cause like freedom to defend. There is little but mush.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here. Paul Greenberg Archives

© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles