Thursday, May 1, 2008

Heads in the Sand

I'm reading Matthew Yglesias's new book Heads in the Sand. It's a very good, quick treatise on how our foreign policy debate in this country became completely warped and confused, and how the Democratic response to Bush's foreign policy was entirely wrong-headed. So far, very good.

My major difficulty is that Yglesias is much more optimistic about past US foreign policy than I am. His breezy lauding of Cold War foreign policy as smart-headed liberal internationalist and anti-imperialist is a little tough to take. Citizens of Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua, and the like encountered an American foreign policy that was rather different than the one described.

On a related note, Yglesias praises Truman's sensible response to the Soviet threat as an example that Bush should have followed, but of course Truman's presidency ended largely because he followed up a sensible use of American military force (saving South Korea) with a completely insensible use of force (invading North Korea) that got the United States caught up in a hugely costly intractable quagmire and at odds with a regional power. Sound familiar?

Which reminds me. McCullough's Truman is warping the middle of my bookshelf with its 1100-page girth. That's next on my reading list. Wish me luck.

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