It occurred to me recently that the current administration—for good or ill—is simply temperamentally disinclined to escalate military conflicts. And, to be entirely fair, so was the last one. And even Barack Obama was not, I think, a warmonger by instinct, despite his frequently troubling use of the military.
This is in very stark contrast to the American Presidency of most of my adult life, let’s say from 1981-2008 or so. Not that every Administration was the same, or that even the most adventuresome Presidents didn’t also engage in some significant peacemaking, but for twenty-odd years, Vietnamization was a constant concern—and what I mean by that is that small provocations always threatened to become larger military interventions, and military interventions always threatened to become full-scale invasions, and full-scale invasions always threatened to become permanent occupations, and permanent occupations threatened to become genocidal atrocities. It didn’t always happen! But I never, ever trusted that it would not happen, and I never trusted that the President of the United States wouldn’t be the one pushing it forward.
It seems clear to me (and as with everything that seems clear to me, it could well be wrong) that Our Only President is dragging his heels on military escalation, in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, and if escalation happens, it will be the US dragged in to it, rather than the US doing the dragging. That suits me, of course. I’m not a pacifist; I think that sometimes military escalation the least bad of the available terrible options. What I want, though, is to feel like the President is reluctant to escalate.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a Young Person at this moment, of course. Maybe it all feels different to them. But someone who is, let’s say, sixteen years old now, and was not yet nine when the last really large escalation (against ISIS) happened, may possibly wind up with a different attitude toward the Presidency and military adventurism than I do.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,