Lessons Learned, And Not

National Review has just reposted a fine, and scathing, editorial published on May 6, 1961, in the aftermath of the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion — which failure NR editors Buckley et al. ascribed to a “failure of will”, and a reluctance to offend “World Opinion”:

Have we learned? There is always reason to hope. But there is also always reason not to hope. It was said in 1956 that Eisenhower learned his lesson at Geneva in 1955, that summiteering was unprofitable — and then after Budapest in 1956, that he had finally learned his lesson about the Russians — and then there was Camp David — and then the Paris Summit in May: Eisenhower never learned…

…We need to remind ourselves from time to time that there is no reason why we should not win this war. We are bigger and, potentially, we can fight with the strength of free men. The weakness we showed last week was of our own making. Anyone looks ridiculous who lies, deceives — and is ineffectual. The Soviet Union lies and deceives — and murders and kills and enslaves and pounds shoes on desks in glittering surroundings: but somehow never appears ridiculous, because the assertion of the will, the harnessing of history to that will, is the business of men; and before such manliness, other men give way.

“…the assertion of the will, the harnessing of history to that will, is the business of men; and before such manliness, other men give way.” This was 1961. Can you imagine anyone in the West assessing global affairs in those terms today?

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