John Kerry, the former Senator and Vietnam survivor of severe wounds, was hosting a panel on CSPAN the other day on how militarism has dominated our foreign policy since World War II.
Vietnam. Iraq/Iran. Iraq. Afghanistan. All were cited in an assault on JFK's (and to an extent Obama's) notion of America as the world's cop. Still, a trace of American exceptionalism crept in. It probably can't be helped, ingrained as it is so deeply in our bones.
It came by way of Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh. He talked about Iran. If Iranians have The Bomb, was deterrence possible? Not if they're rational, he replied in a round about way.
The implication seemed to be that deterrence based on reasonable calculation had prevented war between the U.S. and the USSR. That's basically true.
But that evidence can falsely balloon into an assumption that America is especially qualified by temperment and intllect to make cool-headed, right-minded decisions in times of rising conflict. In fact, the panel had already concurred that hostilities in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were largely sparked or perpetuated by irrationality. Iran is capable of insanity, too, but that shouldn't obscure our own. The panel would no doubt have agreed.