Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Richard Nixon, Alpha Male

Richard Nixon is not one of my favorite presidents. My dad was a Scoop Jackson democrat (the sensible wing of the party trying to hold off the New Left, when it was the party of the little guy, and knew what side was up internationally), and complained bitterly about "tricky Dick" during the nightly newscasts of that era that I watched with him as a kid. So my antipathy was kind of inherited, but my later, adult appraisal of his presidency didn't alter my youthful prejudice. He established the EPA and OSHA, and handed them over to the Left to run; famously proclaimed "we're all Keynesians now", and promptly ordered the federal imposition of wage and price controls, with predictable effects; and of course showed his true inner impulses with the Watergate cover up of a small time burglary that, left alone, would have been a minor episode in the history of the office. Not least, the famous White House tapes showed him to be an inveterate anti-Semite, condescending and insulting to the Jews on his staff and in official Washington generally.

Yet, his foreign policy acumen still shines; I would argue he ranks first among the 44 presidents for his understanding of international relations. His ambition to redeem his shamed presidency in his post resignation period resulted in thousands of pages of highly authoritative foreign policy analysis, and earned for him a reputation as a true statesman, perhaps the last of that breed.

Now, we find revealed another aspect of the man that calls for respect. Jason Moaz over at Commentary magazine reports that 1973's Yom Kippur war, which saw Israel attacked by six Arab nations while the world stood by, had Nixon as the proximate cause of the victorious outcome for Israel. Seems he put aside whatever personal prejudice he had (one shared by most of Europe then and to this day), and unlike the feckless Europeans, boldly made the decision to secretly airlift the war materiel which made the decisive difference in whether Israel survived or not:

What is clear, from the preponderance of information provided by those directly involved in the unfolding events, is that President Richard Nixon — overriding inter-administration objections and bureaucratic inertia — implemented a breathtaking transfer of arms, code-named Operation Nickel Grass, that over a four-week period involved hundreds of jumbo U.S. military aircraft delivering more than 22,000 tons of armaments.
As soon as the scope and pattern of Israeli battle losses emerged, Nixon ordered that all destroyed equipment be made up out of U.S. stockpiles, using the very best weapons America possessed. . . . Whatever it takes, he told Kissinger . . . save Israel.

“It was Nixon who did it,” recalled Nixon’s acting special counsel, Leonard Garment. “I was there. As bureaucratic bickering between the State and Defense departments was going back and forth, Nixon said, this is insane. . . . He just ordered Kissinger, “Get your ass out of here and tell those people to move.”
When Schlesinger initially wanted to send just three transports to Israel because he feared anything more would alarm the Arabs and the Soviets, Nixon snapped: “We are going to get blamed just as much for three as for 300. . . . Get them in the air, now.”

Haig, in his memoir Inner Circles, wrote that Nixon, frustrated with the initial delays in implementing the airlift and aware that the Soviets had begun airlifting supplies to Egypt and Syria, summoned Kissinger and Schlesinger to the Oval Office on October 12 and “banished all excuses.”

The president asked Kissinger for a precise accounting of Israel’s military needs, and Kissinger proceeded to read aloud from an itemized list.

“Double it,” Nixon ordered. “Now get the hell out of here and get the job done.”

Later, informed of yet another delay — this one because of disagreements in the Pentagon over the type of planes to be used for the airlift — an incensed Nixon shouted at Kissinger, “[Expletive] it, use every one we have. Tell them to send everything that can fly.”

This was a man made of sterner stuff than what we have seen in that office since, especially the current occupant, who on the Israeli issue seems determined to do what he can to help with the new final solution the Iranians have in mind. The revelation of Nixon's decisive executive decision making, regardless of the considerable international fallout, makes Obama's disgraceful indecision on what we are doing in Afghanistan look even weaker and more despicable than ever. Greg Lewis at The American Thinker wonders "Did We Elect a Beta Male as President?" and then goes on to demonstrate that we did.

There was a time boys and girls, when men were men. Our enemies are noticing who wears the mom jeans in this administration.

1 comment:

Nolanimrod said...

He meant what he said. He just about stripped us of our top fighter cover. Worked, too.