101 CHRONICLESnVIEWSnOUR STUMBLING GIANT by Robert NisbetnWhatever the number of pluses in the portrait ofnReagan that is beginning to take shape in the finalnmonths of his two-term presidency, there will be minusesnalso, and most of these will stem from his conduct of foreignnpolicy and national defense. At first thought, this is almostnbizarre. Wasn’t Reagan the leader who from his first year innoffice had us walking tall in the world again, and that as thendirect result of his firm hold upon foreign and defensenstrategies? He was indeed. But it is already apparent thatnthere have been significantly more mishaps and acts ofnineptitude in these areas than the image of walking tall canneasily accommodate. Too often America the giant has been,nin foreign areas, a stumbling, spastic, and ill-gaited giant.nLebanon and the fate of 240 Marines, without arms,nwithout instructions, and soon without lives, continues tonhaunt. So does the full story of our self-declared victory innGrenada—for which some 8,000 decorations were speedilynpumped out — in which several thousand American troopsnrequired three days of bumbling before a couple of hundrednarmed Cubans were put down. There is the Reykjaviknsummit and its only narrowly avoided disaster of recklessnutopianism. Reagan’s rush to the INF treaty and itsnuprooting of precious nuclear missiles has created doubt innthe one center in the world where no doubt should ever existnconcerning the United States and its intentions: WesternnEurope, our oldest and generally most reliable allies.nGeneral de Gaulle once spoke of America’s “itch tonThe foregoing is largely an adaptation of sections ofnRobert Nisbet’s recent book. The Present Age: Progressnand Anarchy in Modern America (Harper & Row).nnnintervene.” History suggests he was right: take the Spanish-nAmerican War, the First World War, the Second WorldnWar, Korea, Vietnam, and a train of lesser interventionsnsince. There is nothing intrinsically wrong in a great power’snoccasional intervention in the kind of world that has grownnout of the two world wars and their catastrophic effects onnold balances of power. There is nothing wrong provided thenintervention is clearly in our national interest and on behalfnof American security, provided also we have the means ofnintervening successfully. The last means, at a minimum,nnecessary armed forces, and with these a technology and anleadership able to cope with such threats.nEach of these conditions may seem at first thought sonelementary, so obvious, as to make mention gratuitous.nWhy else, it may be pityingly asked, would the US intervenenexcept where our national interest, our citizens’ lives andnproperty abroad, have been clearly threatened? Secondly,ncan it be reasonably doubted that our military, given theninfusion of around a trillion dollars during the yearsnimmediately following Reagan’s election in 1980, togethernwith the near-trillion already appropriated for spendingnduring the next three years, is at last among, even on top of,nthe world’s leading military powers? The answer to bothnquestions is, unhappily, ambiguous at best. To the first thenonly possible answer based in fact is as negative as it isnpositive. Moralism, global democracy, our brothers’ keeper,nand making holy whatever America touches — all these cropn