David Frum and the Axis of Errors

Air Force Staff Sgt. Sean Martin, Wikimedia Commons

This story originally was published by Real Clear Wire

By Francis P. Sempa
Real Clear Wire

Writing in The Atlantic, David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and cheerleader for endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror, warns us that if Donald Trump wins the 2024 presidential election NATO will be wrecked, our allies around the world will suffer “potential disaster,” and “above all” Ukraine will be left to the mercy of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Given Frum’s track record of advice about wars, one wonders why anyone would take his advice. Frum takes credit for Bush’s phrase the “axis of evil” to describe Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. Frum’s advice about war should be labeled the “axis of error.”

The twin debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan and the endless Global War on Terror–the wasted blood of American soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen (and women) and the wasted American treasure provided to the “military-industrial complex” –should make Frum more humble about giving war advice. How many times does Frum have to be wrong before he fades away into the obscurity he so richly deserves? But here he is again spouting the neoconservative line about the importance of Ukraine to U.S. national security. He condemns Republican Senators who have voiced support for Trump even though they know he will “cut off Ukraine” and “wreck NATO.” Of course, while he was president, Trump did not “cut” Ukraine and did not “wreck” NATO. In fact, NATO unfortunately expanded under Trump–Montenegro joined in 2017 and North Macedonia joined in 2020. Trump did and does demand that NATO members contribute more to their own defense–something that U.S. policymakers and legislators have done for the last 50 years or more. Trump does question the wisdom of providing aid to Ukraine–which is fighting to hold on to its eastern provinces and to take back Crimea–when America is experiencing a broken southern border and faces the existential threat of Communist China. Respected national security experts such as Frank Gaffney, Elbridge Colby, and others–as opposed to a neoconservative speechwriter–agree with Trump on that issue.

How easy it is to advocate war abroad from an office in Washington or New York. Unlike American troops, David Frum didn’t suffer the casualties for 20 years that resulted from his “axis of error,” and he does not suffer today from his war advocacy in Ukraine. If he feels so strongly about it, perhaps he should join–or even lead–an Abraham Lincoln-type brigade of volunteers. In the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), writers, professors, journalists, lawyers and others volunteered to fight on the Republican side. They put their lives on the line for a cause they believed in.

Frum and others in the neoconservative camp (like Max Boot, Robert Kagan, and Bill Kristol) seem to jump from war to war, crusade to crusade, always searching for the next enemy for other Americans or “allies” to fight. In a recent post on X, Frum promoted Anne Applebaum’s recent article opposing a ceasefire in Ukraine entitled “The West Has to Defeat Russia.” In another post, Frum writes that the 2024 election will decide the outcome of the war in Ukraine. “If Trump wins, Ukraine will be betrayed. If Biden wins, Russia loses its last and only route to victory and must accept defeat.” Will Frum be right this time? Or is this just another mistake in his axis of errors?

Francis P. Sempa writes on foreign policy and geopolitics. His Best Defense columns appear at the beginning of each month. Read his latest “Is America the “New” Great Britain?.”

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