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Seems Like Old Times

Pamela Karlan -- law professor, Democrat, war hawk -- testifying this week at the impeachment hearings (CNN)

In the Year of Our Lord 2019, sixteen years after this nation launched the catastrophic Iraq War, the following words were spoken on Capitol Hill this week:

We have become the shining city on a hill. We have become the nation that leads the world in understanding what democracy is. And one of the things we understand most profoundly is it’s not a real democracy, it’s not a mature democracy, if the party in power uses the criminal process to go after its enemies. And I think you heard testimony — the Intelligence Committee heard testimony about how it isn’t just our national interest in protecting our own elections. It’s not just our national interest in making sure that the Ukraine remains strong and on the front line so they fight the Russians there and we don’t have to fight them here, but it’s also our national interest in promoting democracy worldwide.

This was not the second coming of the Wolfowitz-Cheney-Bolton brigade. This was Pamela Karlan, a Stanford law professor and Democrat called by her party to testify in this week’s House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing.

Wellsir, I’m old enough to remember 2002, when the Bush administration and its allies built a case for the Iraq War, using the often-heard line, “We fight the terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them here.” Seriously, young folks, look it up online.

And I’m old enough to remember these lines from President Bush’s second inaugural address, in 2005:

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

That didn’t work out too well for us, for Iraq, or for the Middle East.

And now comes Prof. Karlan, using the same rhetoric to characterize the conflict between the US and Russia in Ukraine. She was there to talk about the legal aspects of impeachment, but she bizarrely tipped her hand by trashing Trump because he failed to play his part as a warmonger.

To be clear, it’s not like Trump’s motivations are clean here. He didn’t do what he did because he’s a non-interventionist. Whether or not it’s a good idea to give military assistance to Ukraine, the Congress appropriated that money, and Trump had no business making it contingent on the Kyiv government doing a political favor for him. That’s beside the point I’m making here, which is: it’s stunning that Prof. Karlan faults Trump’s shenanigans for hurting the cause of America’s global mission to spread democracy, and to fight proxy wars with Russia — on Russia’s own border!

I don’t take a stand on the fight between Russia and Ukraine. I genuinely don’t understand the conflict well enough to make an informed choice. As an Orthodox Christian, I lament it all, and pray for peace and reconciliation. That said, it’s close to berserk to say that America ought to go seeking a fight with Russia within a state that, only 20 30 years ago, was part of the Soviet Union. What if a Russian law professor gave a speech before the Duma saying that Russia has a mission to fund military conflict on the US-Mexico border, because Russia has to fight America there so they don’t have to fight them in Russia. How crazy would that be?

Here is a detail from Google Maps of that region. That big area to the east of Ukraine? That’s Russia:

According to Stanford University professor Pamela Karlan, the United States should fund a proxy war between Ukraine and Russia, because democracy, and to keep the Russians out of America.

The American elites didn’t learn a damn thing from Iraq. At least not that particular American elite.

UPDATE: I closed comments on this post. Haven’t done that for a while. I’m tired of the nasty, pointless back and forth between pro-Russians and pro-Ukrainians.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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