RIP, OLD FRIEND

The Morning Call says goodbye to an old friend

Yesterday, the House “progressives” forced the leaders of their party to remove $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system from the continuing resolution to fund the (American) government through early December.  The move was, more or less, a high-profile foot-stomping exercise, as the funds will still be appropriated, either in a stand-alone bill or as part of the Defense Department appropriations.  Nevertheless, the foot-stomping was both earnest and important.  Not only did it expose several of our government’s current pathologies, it also did so at one of the most fitting moments possible.

Why, you ask, would so-called “progressives” do such a thing?

That’s an excellent question (we’re glad you asked!), one that has two principal answers.

First, it’s important to note who, exactly, did the foot-stomping.  Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and the rest of the usual suspects were the instigators, which gives away at least part of the game.  These people are professional whiners.  They made a point of sticking it to Israel because that’s what they do.  They detest the Jewish state – some because it’s a Jewish state, some because it’s an American ally, and others because it’s a “Western” power in what they think of as a non-Western part of the world.  They loathe Israel, and they don’t care who knows it.  Indeed, they’re more than happy to shout it from the proverbial rooftops.

The second reason that “progressives” would be so ugly and rancorous is that they think of missile defense systems as incitements to war.  Seriously.  If a country has nothing to fear from retaliation, the “thinking” goes (and we use those scare quotes purposefully), then it also has no inhibitions, no check on its own ambitions.  If one nation knows full well that it can stop the other side’s most potent weapons, then it will take more military chances and will demand more foreign policy concessions.

This is the same “logic” (again, purposefully) that undergirded the foolish, dangerous, and nearly catastrophic Cold War policy known as MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction – which posited that as long as both sides in the standoff could destroy one another, and as long as both sides knew that, then neither side would ever see any advantage in launching a nuclear first strike.  As long as both sides remained equally exposed, then there was almost no chance that either would ever be “mad” enough to pull the trigger first.

Of course, as the late, great Richard Pipes and Team B established, Mutually Assured Destruction was a dangerous fantasy concocted by arrogant and obtuse analysts that very nearly drew the superpowers into precisely the type of nuclear conflict it was supposed to prevent.  It turns out that not everybody in the world thinks exactly the same way as a handful of CIA and DoD analysts, far removed from any conflict, in Langley and Arlington, respectively.

Despite the fact that MAD was largely invalidated as a defense strategy, the idea that the United States should remain exposed to Soviet missiles persisted and, indeed, persisted long after the Soviet Union itself had been consigned to the dustbin of history.  Establishment members of both parties feared and resented their own country and, as such, felt strongly that it should remain vulnerable, to protect it from itself and its occasionally rogue leaders.

About seven years ago, one of the world’s foremost experts on missile defense, the man who had almost singlehandedly kept the dream of a U.S. national missile defense system alive for countless years, penned a piece on the subject, touching on both the brilliance of Iron Dome and the bipartisan establishment resistance to the whole idea.  He wrote:

Images of Hamas’s artillery rockets being intercepted by Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system naturally lead Americans to wonder why, if missiles were fired at our homes, we wouldn’t go to the trouble of stopping them in mid-flight as the Israelis do. The answer is that our bipartisan ruling class decided half a century ago that even trying to protect America against all but token missile attacks would be a hostile act toward Russia and China.

A fog of technical misunderstanding veils that fundamental fact. Many who continue to oppose comprehensive U.S. missile defenses maintain that defending America against long-range missiles is far more difficult than defending against swarms of artillery rockets. The value of Israel’s “Iron Dome” for America is as a technical demonstration that the contrary is true….

As I have explained to the readers of Law and Liberty, doing this is entirely possible, but the U.S. government has chosen not to….

Alas, technology has never been the reason why the American people are not now and never have been defended against ballistic missiles. The reason is an ideology that continues to grip our bipartisan ruling class.


As some of you may have guessed, the inimitable expert who authored the above passages is our old friend Angelo Codevilla, easily one of the most indispensable and irreplaceable political thinkers of our age and the most implacable advocate for a national missile defense system for the last 40+ years.

Now, by way of clarification, I (Steve) should note here that when I write “our old friend” as I did above, what I usually mean is that the individual is someone whom I have met a few times and have spoken to on occasion but who is, in truth, an old friend of Melcher’s.  In this case, Mark knew Angelo for some four decades, and they always regarded one another warmly.

Note here as well that in describing their friendship, I use the past tense.  That’s because Angelo, who had been in poor health for years, passed away yesterday, at the ripe young age of 78.  A family has lost a patriarch.  The nation has lost one of its most brilliant and unflinching minds.  And Mark has lost an old friend.  What a terrible shame, for everyone.

Remember above, when I wrote that “the Squad” and its petty progressive pals had stripped the Iron Dome funding “at one of the most fitting moments possible?”  This is what I meant.  For much of his life, Codevilla fought to protect his fellow Americans from ballistic missile attacks.  He didn’t succeed, at home at least, but he did see the state and the people of Israel embrace his dreams and turn them into reality.

Yet even as he lay dying yesterday, the ideologues who had long thwarted his efforts in the United States were trying to undo the success his ideas had in Israel.  In one last act of ideological selfishness, they made a trifling symbolic gesture, one that proved that he had been right all along and that the American people had been perpetually betrayed by their “leaders.”

RIP, (Mark’s) old friend.       

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