John Kerry: Let's face it, things were simpler during the Cold War

Here’s what he means by “simpler”:

“The choices were less varied, less complicated, more stark, more clear: Communism, democracy, West, East, the Iron Curtain.”

He said “multiple emerging powers,” unleashed forces like radical Islam, and “too many failed states” have dramatically complicated the landscape, requiring a form of diplomatic precision that was not absolutely necessary decades ago.

In the post-war 1950s and 1960s, Kerry said, “we could make really bad decisions and still win, because we were pretty much the sole dominant economic and military power around.

“It’s not true any more.”

Good question from PJ Media blogger/Hot Air alumnus Bryan Preston. If things were simpler then, how come so many leftists got them wrong?

Kerry supported the 1980s nuclear freeze movement, which was Soviet-funded in the West and aimed to disarm the free world of our nuclear deterrent. Ted Kennedy was working with the Soviets behind Reagan’s back, according to his KGB files. Numerous Democrats actually believed that Ronald Reagan was more of a threat to the world than any Soviet premier.

For his part, Kerry even got the war he fought in wrong. Vietnam was about containing international communism. He made it about smearing his fellow soldiers, with all that “Jenghis Ghan” stuff. When America abandoned Vietnam, as Kerry wanted, the communists went on a rampage and killed hundreds of thousands over the next several years.

The world is safer now than it was during the Cold War and nearly everywhere violence is in decline, which, if you specialize in diplomacy, I suppose does make your job harder. In the past, the threat of global nuclear war would have made Russia think twice about pushing too far west. Nowadays, as more international conflict is channeled into diplomatic standoffs, more subtle deterrents are required. I’d call that progress, if only for reasons of self-interest, but the thought of Waffles having to work longer hours than earlier secretaries of state does make me sad. Another key reason things were “simpler” during the Cold War is the white-knuckle terror felt by countries throughout Eurasia that the Red Army might suddenly show up in their capitals one day. It wasn’t so much America’s power that bought carte blanche for U.S. diplomats as it was Soviet power and the fear it generated in nonaligned states. When the USSR fell apart and that fear started to fade, so did some of the incentive among U.S. allies to cooperate with us.

But here’s the “good” news. Given how easy it was for Putin to seize Crimea and how little he seems to care about Obama’s latest “red line” for eastern Ukraine, you may start seeing some of the old jitters about Russia creep back into the foreign-poilicy calculations of European and Asian states. And that’ll make things “easier” for Kerry. In fact, maybe that’s O’s international legacy: He presided over Russia’s return to menacing-superpower status, which in turn launched Cold War II and made things “simple” for the State Department. That’s change you can believe it.

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