Good gravy. It's been Robert Kagan on the radio all day. I traced back from Robert Siegel's breathless interview with him on ATC this afternoon to actually read Kagan's column on Georgia.
Does Robert Siegel really find this tripe to be impressive?
The details of who did what to precipitate Russia's war against Georgia are not very important. Do you recall the precise details of the Sudeten Crisis that led to Nazi Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia? Of course not, because that morally ambiguous dispute is rightly remembered as a minor part of a much bigger drama.
The events of the past week will be remembered that way, too …
Historians will come to view Aug. 8, 2008, as a turning point no less significant than Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. …
Damn! That's really significant!!
I'm on the record as really detesting argument by analogy … but I suppose that's a historian's stock in trade. (Eh, Bob?) But when someone like Kagan pulls out the old Magic 8-ball and starts telling us “such-and-such will be remembered like thus-and-so” … we'd do well to have our BS detectors at the ready. Talk like that has a hell of a lot less to do with analysis of what's in front of him, and everything to do with self-aggrandizement. It's a puffing up of the present moment — hey kids, who doesn't want to be a part of history? — topped off with the self-congratulatory implication that I recognized it, and I told you so then.
What if he's wrong? If 8/8/08 isn't our Berlin Wall, or Munich, or whatever; if it doesn't turn out to be so damn important … well, who's gonna notice? It's not exactly a testable hypothesis right about now, is it? The question of the omniscence of Bob Kagan just won't be very interesting if he's wrong. Kagan wins, either way.
So hey, when we're in the @#$% of a grinding, oh-so-historic land war with Russia — tell 'em Bob Kagan sent you. 'Cause, you know, it was historic.