America’s latest suicide attempt

In 1983, British historian Paul Johnson wrote “Modern Times,” perhaps the most insightful analysis of world history from the First World War to the 1980s. One of the chapters in that book is titled “America’s Suicide Attempt,” and therein Johnson examines events in the United States during the 1960s and early 1970s. The events Johnson describes have an eerie similarity to the first two decades of the 21st century. America is attempting suicide again…

During the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) administrations, U.S. involvement in Vietnam expanded, but both leaders recoiled from doing what was necessary to win the war. “Having involved itself,” historian Johnson wrote, “America should have followed the logic of its position and responded to aggression by occupying  . . .  North [Vietnam].” Instead, North Vietnam, as well as Laos and Cambodia became, for the most part, privileged sanctuaries for our enemies, largely immune from the full force of American arms and power. This self-imposed restraint, Johnson explained, was “interpreted by friend and foe alike as evidence, not of humanity, but of guilt and lack of righteous conviction.”

At home, the mostly privileged student Left took to the streets in radical protest not just against the war, but also against American society in general. Some students called for overthrowing the “system.” Campuses were “radicalized” and students rioted, Johnson wrote, while “university presidents compromised, surrendered or abdicated.” “What student violence did above all,” Johnson explained, “was to damage American higher education and demoralize its teachers.” …

LBJ was the first major casualty of America’s 1960s suicide attempt. He was so unpopular that he decided against seeking reelection in 1968. The elite national media turned against him as it turned against the war and increasingly sided with the radical Left in America. The next major casualty was Johnson’s successor, Richard Nixon.

The elite media’s hatred for Richard Nixon went back to the Alger Hiss case — when as a congressman Nixon led the effort to expose Hiss, a respected member of the liberal establishment, as a communist agent. After Nixon’s narrow victory in 1968, “[i]n parts of the media,” historian Johnson wrote, “there was an inclination to deny his legitimacy as president and to seek to reverse the [election] by non-constitutional means.” …

The media’s aim, Johnson explained, “was to use publicity to reverse the electoral verdict of 1972.” Thus began what Johnson called the “Watergate witch hunt,” a “media putsch” that effectively overturned the 1972 election. And in the elite media’s “overwhelming desire to destroy Nixon,” Johnson wrote, “all considerations of national security were cast aside,” and presidential power was circumscribed to the detriment of the nation’s interests.

Johnson concluded the chapter with this observation: “The Vietnam War and its bitter sequel, the Great Society and its collapse, the Imperial Presidency and its demolition: these constituted, in combination, a suicide attempt by the superpower of the West.” …

America’s suicide attempt of the 1960s and early 1970s, Johnson noted, “coincided with the demoralization of America and with the steady expansion of Soviet power and influence,” a geopolitical setback that was only salvaged by the heroic presidency of Ronald Reagan. America’s current suicide attempt — if not halted — could undermine the “liberal” world order and further erode Western civilization.

Read The Full Article At Real Clear History