Is it high time for liberals to apologize to the anticommunist right, which correctly gauged the red menace from the start? Sorry, the credit belongs to a brave band of liberal cold warriors beginning with George Kennan.
The end of the Cold War has ushered in a period of contrition on the American left. While most liberals, like Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., never had any illusions about the Soviet regime, the sixties New Left included revolutionary romantics who were outright apologists for communism. Lately, however, many of those leftists have belatedly conceded that the Soviet Union was an evil empire after all.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan was in an apocalyptic mood. As a late
winter rainstorm lashed the windows of his darkened Senate office,
Moynihan read scornfully from a column by the Washington Post's
William Raspberry quoting the departing secretary of housing,
Henry Cisneros: "Signing the welfare bill pushes the cities,
and for that matter, the federal government to the wall. If jobs
are not created to take up the people who are coming off of welfare,
social chaos is the result. That's unacceptable. Therefore, there's
no alternative but to address the problems of jobs in the cities."
Ever since Harpagus conspired with Cyrus against his uncle, the King of Medea, by placing letters to Cyrus in the belly of a hare, secrecy has always been part of government—and particularly part of the conduct of foreign affairs. Secrecy is obviously an indispensable part of espionage and intelligence gathering, and there are times, to be sure, when even a nation's own people need to be kept (temporarily) in the dark if foreign policy interests are to be best served. But this is dangerous; secrecy can become an end in its own right, or a tool by which political leaders can arrogate more power to themselves than a democratic system warrants.