As a rule, people in democratic societies prefer to take care of the business of life. They raise families. They work and they trade. They create wealth and they share it. Above all in free societies, we live by the law – and, at our best, we look after one another, too. ~Fred Thompson
Actually, people in pretty much all kinds of societies do all of these things, because these are all basic elements of social life. If you think this is trite, just wait for the rest:
Often the cause of our grief is a misplaced trust in the good intentions of others. In our dealings with other nations, people in free countries are not the type to go looking for trouble. We tend to extend our good will to other nations, assuming that it will be returned in kind.
He is speaking in London, and he is referring primarily to America and Britain. America and Britain don’t “go looking for trouble” in the world? Leave aside Cold War era policies for now, and let’s try to forget, if we can, the close, longstanding links between British trade and British imperialism in the last two centuries before WWII and the various pro-corporate “small wars” of the early 20th century. At the very least, you can count the governments of these countries as parties to two aggressive wars in the last eight years and they were the leading forces enforcing the sanctions and (illegal) no-fly zones against Iraq. We don’t go looking for trouble, but we have hundreds of bases all over the planet. We extend goodwill to the world, but have a bad habit lately of bombing and/or occupying other countries. I don’t know what troubles me more: that Thompson has no idea how ridiculous this sounds to the rest of the world, or that he knows and doesn’t care.
Then there was this hegemonist clunker:
The American response is to ask how, then, does one justify non-Security-Council-sanctioned actions, such as Kosovo?
I don’t know, Fred. How does one justify a war of aggression? We’d all like to know the answer to that one.
He just keeps going:
Many in Europe simply have a different view from that of the United States as to the threat of radical Islamic fundamentalism. They think that the threat is overblown. That despite September 11th, and July 7th and other attacks in Europe and elsewhere, America is the main target and therefore the problem is basically an American one. The fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq at a particular point in time resolves the matter for them. Also, they see no meaningful connection between terrorist groups and countries like Iran [bold mine-DL].
Well, it has been overblown by some people in Fred’s party. People who speak casually of “existential threats” are exaggerating the threat. That much is clear. The threat of “radical Islamic fundamentalism” hasn’t got anything to do with whether or not there were WMDs in Iraq at any point in time, but notice the phrasing “at a particular point in time.” This seems to mean that Fred thinks that there were WMDs in Iraq, but not in 1998 and not in 2003, which suggests that he buys into all of the most preposterous “they were shipped to Syria” conspiracy theorising of pro-war circles. The last sentence doesn’t even make sense. Do many Europeans actually disbelieve Iranian connections with Hizbullah? Europeans might very well recognise Hizbullah as principally an enemy of Israel, which is true, and they might not understand why Iranian support for Hizbullah is their concern. If Fred is talking about imaginary Iran-Al Qaeda ties, no one should be surprised that Europeans see no “meaningful” connection here, because there is no connection at all.
He then distorts the position of opponents of the war:
Admittedly, even some in America think that the threat is overblown, and that if we had not gone into Iraq, we’d have no terrorism problem.
Actually, regarding this latter point, no one here says any such thing. War opponents almost to a man say that we already had a terrorism problem and that this problem had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein. Opponents of the war said crazy things like, “Maybe the war in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and the Taliban should be our top priority, instead of invading a country essentially entirely unrelated to anti-American terrorism.” Had we not gone into Iraq, our “terrorism problem” would probably be less severe than it is now, as we would not have given jihadi terrorists a huge propaganda coup and a major conflict for them to use as a rallying point for their cause, but unlike war supporters we do not inextricably link the “terrorism problem” with the war in Iraq because they are actually not very closely related at all. Unlike those who warn against terrorists “following us home” if we leave Iraq, opponents of the war assume that anti-American terrorists are perfectly capable of targeting American interests whether or not we are in Iraq. Our presence in Iraq does not deter terrorism, it probably encourages it and it wastes our resources on an unrelated fight. That is what critics and opponents of the war say. That old Fred thinks he can rely on such lazy, false charges to advance his boilerplate foreign policy agenda proves that he actually is relying on the insights of the Liz Cheneys of the world for his ideas, and that is truly frightening.
Of course Fred wants to “let old arguments go” while still casting himself in the role of a far-sighted Churchill lecturing those whom I assume he takes to be Chamberlainesque ninnies of Britain in his audience. Letting old arguments go is the approach someone on the losing end of those old arguments would take. Someone who apparently didn’t know until recently that “geography, history, and ethnicity are important factors to consider in making decisions regarding today’s enemies” would very much like to put aside old arguments in which his side of the argument demonstrated powerful ignorance of all these things. Someone who didn’t fully understand the “importance of preparation, of alliances, and the continuing support of our people” would like us move on and look forward…to endorse his basically unchanged vision of the world that promises more of the same.