The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Space Cadets

February 2, 2011

SEK calls some conservative commentators out:

Anybody else notice the problem with Schweizer and Nolte’s defense? Of course you do. But in case either of them read this, I’ll spell it out: Palin woefully misunderstands the President’s argument, as is evident by the fact that in the terms of the analogy, she mistakes the United States for the Soviet Union. The President said that the United States now should be like the United States in 1959, not that it should be like the Soviet Union in 1959. To claim that the President wants the United States now to be like the Soviet Union in 1959 is to make an error worthy of the mockery it has received. Instead of recognizing Palin’s inability to comprehend a simple analogy, Nolte and Schweizer claim that the mockery is unfounded because bureaucratic excess eventually brought down the Soviet Union.

That’s all well and good, but Palin’s claim that its space program destroyed the USSR remains deeply, profoundly ignorant of twentieth-century history.

That being said, at least her defenders are willing to embrace a structural argument for the USSR’s collapse. One usually finds posters at Big Hollywood claiming that Reagan’s insistence on boondoggle defense programs and his willingness to call the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire” brought Moscow to its knees.

website | + posts

Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.