(Illustration by TOM, Trouw, Amsterdam)
The answer George Will gave several years ago when asked what he thinks of "neoconservatives" has stuck with many ever since. "They tend to be very bright, good writers" he said, "and many of them used to be my friends, but they fail before taking action to ask the question that Admiral Yamamoto asked of his superiors as he agreed to lead the attack on Pearl Harbor."
Adm. Yamamoto had attended Harvard, spoke English and was familiar with and an admirer of the United States. The imperial of Japan wanted to drive the United States out of the Pacific and, according to Mr. Will, the admiral said, "We can do that, and we can keep them out for a year or perhaps 18 months, but then what?"
What, indeed. The failure to ask that question resulted ultimately in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the humiliation of Japan. Yet the too often fail to ask this simple question when demanding this or that in domestic and international affairs.
It certainly wasn't asked as Yugoslavia was coming apart during the so-called Balkan Crisis in the 1990s. American neoconservatives and others decided, when they weren't urging the Clinton administration to send troops, to support every effort to allow Kosovo to break away from Serbia in the name of self-determination.
In doing so, they were edging up to opening what has become a Pandora's Box of troubles for the United States, the United Nations and the world. Russia, which has always considered Serbia's "Southern Slavs" a quasi-protectorate, was outraged at the time, arguing that Kosovo had no right to break away from the sovereign state of which the region was a part.
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- Judy Chaffee
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