As a refugee from liberalism I feel a lot of admiration and nostalgia for the honest liberal, the earnest liberal, the liberal whose hand you’d like to shake even in your disagreement with his views. You wanted to salute his character, his sincerity and his consistency. You applauded his habit of fair fighting, as he respected yours. Where did they all go? Might they ever return? Will the ethical ever gallop to save us?
Instead of that nearly extinct liberal, we’re facing this lying pack of amoral, poorly-educated political thugs who will never be able to sustain a decent, civilized conversation for one calendar minute. They make me gag on my own moral superiority. I, for example, am truly undone by the luring of a journalist into the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul under the supposed presumption of safe conduct and the assurance he wouldn’t be smuggled out piecemeal after his murder and dismemberment. That episode genuinely sickens me. Does it sicken our brothers on the left? Apparently not as much as it delights them by giving them a phony plot of artificial high ground, from which they can fake real dread while shouting, “Trump, are you really going to continue to sell weapons and continue relations with so-called allies who murder and dismember their adversaries in consulates?”
Trump was right to proclaim continued alliance with a multi-billion-dollar customer who stands as a welcome counterpoint to the expansionist ambitions of Iran, but he didn’t have to sound so jubilant about it. Trump could have taken a sip of water or a deep breath, or at least paused and given a little historical perspective on pursuing relations with allies who commit wretched atrocities.
During World War II, we were allied with the Soviet Union, a ruthless dictatorship which in one episode alone slaughtered tens of thousands of Polish officers and the intellectual and elite of Poland and tried to bury that crime in mass graves in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk in the USSR. President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill did their level best to pretend the Germans had committed the massacre, and when the truth leaked out they did their best to minimize it and wave it aside. At no point was breaking the alliance with Russia considered, nor should it have been. We later had to deal with the Soviets until our victory in the Cold War. Our side was not perfect. But we looked perfect alongside the Soviet Union.
With Churchill cussing and Roosevelt biting his tongue, our alliance with the Soviets survived, and civilization was rescued.
World War II gave us many examples of leaders defying distasteful allies. Mussolini’s Fascist generals ignored Il Duce’s order to deport Jews to German concentration camps. Instead, they went ahead, on their own, and built Italian “concentration camps” in which the Jews gained weight and openly observed the Sabbath and all the High Holy Days. Finland’s Mannerheim warned the Nazis that if they tried to deport one Jew, he would abandon the Northern Front. The German deportation ship returned empty.
And Adm. Horthy of Hungary resisted Hitler’s Holocaust for as long as he could. At one point, he was having dinner in Budapest with Germany’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop. After a little too much Hungarian bikavér (“bull’s blood”), the Nazi guest exploded into raucous laughter. “Admiral Horthy,” he sneered, “How can you be an admiral? Hungary doesn’t have a navy! Hungary doesn’t even have a seacoast! How can you possibly be an admiral?”
The admiral coolly retorted, “Well, doesn’t Nazi Germany have a Ministry of Justice?”
Saudi Arabia needs a moral tongue lashing the likes of which will long echo across the desert.
And yet we still need Saudi Arabia.