Here’s what you need to know about the forthcoming presidential election: Whoever you vote for in November, you won’t be voting for peace. Just as there is no credible peace party in American politics, so too there will be no peace candidate on the ballot—at least none with any substantial following.
Reflecting on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Greg Jaffe, military correspondent of the Washington Post, observed that peace“has become something of a dirty word in Washington foreign-policy circles.” As with other truly offensive terms, the p-word is disappearing from American political discourse. It is now found only infrequently on the lips of major political figures.
It wasn’t always this way. In former times, politicians spoke of peace frequently and fervently. Peace—comprehensive, definitive, and indelible—provided the overarching justification for the exercise of American power. American statecraft was synonymous with the quest for peace. Such at least was the view expressed by those charged with formulating and explaining U.S. policy.
Addressing his fellow citizens in the midst of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt spoke of victory...