How many of my fellow Americans heard our president's State of the Union oration and were visited by scenes from the ever-popular "Der Zufriedengestellte Aeolus" (BWV 205)? Snicker if you will; but when our president threatened our Russian friends with an Olympic boycott for their recent restlessness, this secular cantata, composed by the late Johann Sebastian Bach for Prof. August Mueller's birthday party, sprang to mind.
Here, you may say, I go too far. Bach is above politics! Carter listens only to the Baptist masters. Bach was a stout Lutheran. Yet I stand steadfast and adamantine. Moreover, taking one squeak with another, our president's entire foreign policy puts me in mind of this ancient cantata. So does the Hon. Kennedy's, and the Hon. Stassen's, too, for that matter. Gov. Brown's brings to mind an insane cacophony of harps and sirens, but I wander.
Think back on that cantata. The music commences with old Aeolus, King of the Winds, gleefully discoursing on the ruination he is about to cause by releasing his fierce gusts. "How hilariously I will laugh," the fiend exults, "when the roofs crash in." It is a tense moment. Pomona, goddess of fruits and other high-fiber delicacies, speaks out on behalf of the roofs -- but to no avail. Even the mellow entreaties of Zephyr have no effect.
Then enters the beauteous Pallas, who, not incidentally, signs soprano. With trills and leaps, she notifies the King that his macho amusements are counterproductive and will, alas, spoil Prof. Mueller's birthday party. What's that? Spoil Prof. Mueller's birthday party? An infamy too cruel even for the King of the Winds, so he relents, and peace is preserved.
Carter has surpassed art. He believes the Soviets will pull their armies out of Afghanistan rather than spoil the Olympics. Imagine the look of terror that crossed Papa Brezhnev's face when he received those grim tidings. tThere the redoubtable Marxist philosophe is, pondering the dialectical glories of the Red Army. In Eastern Europe, it maneuvers along the Yugoslav border. In Asia, it has overrun Afghanistan and is rumbling toward the Afghan-Iranian border. His generals are briskly butchering Afghanistan's bourgeois hordes with tanks, planes and poison gas. In comes the report that our president is refusing to attend the Moscow Olympics unless the entire Soviet spectacular is shut down. Did Papa Brezhnev break into tears? My guess is he ordered up the vodka.
The flummoxing of our foreign policy during the past few years has been almost orgiastic. Think of the guff and the extravagance we have inflicted on friend and foe alike! Think of how they have had to endure those weird enthusiams that have coursed through our society! No wonder Western Europe has been slow in responding to our president's alarums. For three years he scoffed at anti-communism. He has said things that no seasoned European ever expected to hear from an American president. Now he is asking the French (since De Gaulle, independent and close to Moscow) and the West Germans (thanks to our State Department, detente's most committed adherents) to reverse their policies of detente because of his new insights into Soviet ambition. Foreign policy is not so simple.
In recent years, it has been dangerous and embarrassing to be an American ally. Under Jimmy Carter, it is danderous and embarrassing to be an American enemy. Think of the Iranian patriots. They beat their chests in our faces. They stuck their tongues out and wrapped garbage in our flag. They kidnapped 50 American citizens. They bragged and taunted us. Our president pursed his lips and went to the International Court. The Iranians swore and shrieked. Our president went to the United Nations. Now the poor yahoos are stuck with 50 hostages and nothing to do with them. So embarrassing is their condition that the esteemed Nation magazine now urges us to conspire so as to "allow Iran to salvage its own national honor."
Our president did this to them. The Iranian revolutionaries only wanted to battle American Marines. Now they are being analyzed by American sociologists. They are spending the best time of their lives barricaded in a foreign embassy and, as they while away the days, the world is beginning to chortle. In Moscow, there is the smakcking of lips.
Yet these are not amusing times. It should be axiomatic that a truculent Carter leading a poorly armed America is more dangerous than a dovish Carter leading a well-armed America. America needs: a) the arms programs Carter killed or stifled in his first three years, b) a NATO naval presence in the Indian Ocean, c) bases in the Middle East and d) immediate action to protect us from the first-strike capability that our president has allowed the Soviets to achieve. Rather than wait for 1989 and the security then promised by our president's Rube Goldberg-basing of the MX missile, we need the cheaper and earlier security ABMs promise. The ABM treaty ought to be abrogated.
Finally, America needs our president to heed the last lines of Leopold Amery's May 7, 1940, speech to Neville Chamberlain: "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"