At the Huffington Post, Tom Shachtman writes:

Former Vice President Richard B. Cheney in a recent interview with Politico labeled President Barack Obama’s drawn-out process of deciding on a troop surge for Afghanistan as projecting “weakness,” and charged that this and other “signs of weakness” would embolden our adversaries in the world. In articulating this position, Cheney embraced the concept of “provocative weakness” promulgated many years ago by the mysterious Pentagon civilian adviser Fritz G. A. Kraemer.

Schachtman identifies Kraemer as the “shaper” of Henry Kissinger and a neoconservative guru.  Kraemer was one of Kissinger’s mentors, but so was William Y. Elliott of Harvard, an apostle of realism.  In suggesting that Kraemer was responsible for the idea of provocative weakness, Schactman is being ridiculous.  The notion that weakness invites aggression has been around for a very long time.  Consider:

  • ” There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness.” — Andrew Jackson, special message to Congress, February 22, 1836
  • “Weakness and unpreparedness invite aggression” — 1940 Democratic Platform
  • “The disintegration of our military forces since the surrender of Germany and Japan is an encouragement to nations who regard weakness on the part of peace-loving nations as an invitation to aggression. And the countries whose people share our ideals, and who look to us for leadership, but who are weak in resources or manpower, lose faith in our ability to support the principles for which we stand.”  — Harry Truman, June 7, 1947
  • “Weakness invites aggression. Strength stops it.” — Dwight Eisenhower, October 9, 1956