A review (sub req) of Steven Hayward's The Age of Reagan by William Voegeli in the September 21st edition of National Review provides an insightful glimpse into the mind of a liberal during the early Eighties. And not just any liberal.
This unilateral political disarmament came at a time when Democrats had shown themselves to be deeply unserious about national security. The party, which formulated the containment doctrine as a resolute, sober alternative to "rolling back" Communism, had been traumatized by Vietnam into the belief that America was the reckless world power that most needed to be contained. Hayward reminds us of the stupidity that resulted from reducing statecraft to social work by quoting prominent Democrats extensively and accurately--which is to say, cruelly. No parents of a convicted felon ever sounded more broken-hearted and bewildered than Walter Mondale did after the USSR's delinquency in the 1970s had helped make him an ex-vice president in 1981: "I cannot understand--it just baffles me--why the Soviets these last few years have behaved as they have. Why did they have to build up all those arms? Why did they have to go into Afghanistan? Why can't they relax just a little bit about Eastern Europe? Why do they try every door to see if it is locked? Maybe we have made some mistakes with them."
You think? The level of naïveté that Mondale displays is simply astounding, even more so when you consider that he had just spent the last four years serving as vice president of the United States. So even though he had access to all the intelligence and analysis of the Soviet Union available to the government at the time, he had no clue as to what motivated Soviet leaders. Keep that in mind as Mondale is trotted out as an "elder statesman" these days to offer up his wisdom on world affairs supposedly acquired by his years of experience.