Re " 'The Godfather' doctrine," Opinion, May 7
John C. Hulsman and A. Wess Mitchell fail to sufficiently hammer home the key point: Following a position of "realism" in today's world means abandoning most of the structures and rules of international operation that have governed our conduct since World War II.
Are we willing to reconsider who we can kill and when? Michael Corleone decided that maybe the previous "mobster rule" prohibiting killing a police officer could be broken in some cases. Are we willing to consider that targeted assassination is preferable to outright war? Corleone did.
Are we willing to consider that the existing power structures and institutions may be completely obsolete and no longer worthy of support? Corleone did.
A realistic policy will force us to recognize and abandon long-held beliefs about the usefulness of the United Nations, the legality of killing foreign leaders preemptively and the reality that in many places, the distinction between "civilian" and "military" is no longer a meaningful one. Our adversaries have already either discarded these beliefs or never shared them in the first place. The question for the next decade is whether we are willing to be as cold and ruthless as Corleone was about the realities of our world.
Hulsman and Mitchell forget to mention that Michael Corleone's first act as a family member was to put a bullet in "The Turk" and the police captain in an ambush of cold-blooded murder under the guise of peace talk. Then, on returning from exile, he became the flexible realist.
Can anyone doubt that the respect and fear he earned from this preemptive attack is what enabled him to become Hulsman's and Mitchell's flexible hero?
Hulsman and Mitchell make a cute analogy between our foreign policy future and "The Godfather." But they conveniently fail to mention that Corleone's "flexible" solution, which they favor, included the assassination of "The Turk" (Iran in their analogy), as well as the heads of the other Mafia families (their China, Russia, Brazil and India). "Cool, dispassionate courage" indeed.
Maybe Tom Hagen's more prudent approach of negotiation and adjustment would have served the family better in the long term had it been tried. But the movie would not have been as entertaining.