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Patrick Lawrence

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The Empire’s Last Stand

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In the early months of 1947, President Harry Truman and Dean Acheson, his secretary of state, made up their minds to prop up Greece’s openly fascist monarchy against a popular revolt they had cast as a Soviet threat. After much hand-wringing, Truman went to Congress on March 12 to ask for $400 million in aid, not quite $5 billion today when adjusted for inflation.

Truman and Acheson knew the Greek intervention would be a hard sell: Congress was in no mood to spend that kind of money, and the war-weary public harbored hope for FDR’s vision of a postwar order built on the principle of peaceful coexistence. As the speech went through its multiple drafts, Arthur Vandenberg, Republican senator from Michigan and a presence in the planning of America’s postwar posture, offered advice that must be counted elegantly forthright, if diabolic in its cynicism.

It comes down to us today, and for good reason. “Mr. President,” Vandenberg said during White House deliberations, “the only way you are ever going to get this is to make a speech and scare hell out of the American people.”

Truman made his since-famous “scare hell” speech. The Greeks got their $400 million (a remarkable proportion of which was embezzled by government ministers), and the American public was kept scared for the next 40–odd years — the Cold War years.
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Biden’s Inhumanity on Syria

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For a time after Joe Biden took office not quite three months ago, among the questions raised was how the new administration would address the Syria question. I do not think we will have to wonder about this much longer. It is early days yet, but one now detects the Biden’s administration’s Syria policy in faint outline. From what one can make out, it is bleak, it is vicious, it is unconscionably cruel to the Syrian people.
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The Diplomacy of No Diplomacy

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A return to diplomacy: Let us hold this thought up to the light. Among all the promises President Joe Biden is going to break over the next four years, this will prove the most fraudulent and, in the larger scheme of things, the most consequential of his breaches.
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