Parade of Pessimism Posted by: Dale Franks
on Thursday, January 05, 2006
Gloom. That's all I really have to offer today. I wish it were otherwise, but, there you go. The reason for the gloom is that I am increasingly skeptical, for a variety of reasons, that we will ultimately prevail in the War on Terror, or even in Iraq. Essentially, as it stands now, I am not confident that we, as a people, have the will—although we undeniably have the ability—to engage in a generational, or even moderately long struggle against Islamist extremism. That might change in the future, but, for the present, I don't see us seriously engaging our enemies in any substantive way for much longer.
Thomas Sowell kicks off the Parade of Pessimism with this column in which he wonders whether we are willing to even acknowledge the warning signs of America's—and the West's in general—decline. Iran is getting closer and closer to creating nuclear weapons, and despite all the warning signs, we're doing essentially...nothing.
When you are boating on the Niagara River, there are signs marking the point at which you must go ashore or else you will be sucked over the falls. With Iran moving toward the development of nuclear weapons, we are getting dangerously close to that fatal point of no return on the world stage.
Yet there are few signs of alarm in our public discourse, whether among politicians, the media, or the intelligentsia. There is much more discussion of whether government anti-terrorism agents should be able to look at the records of books borrowed from public libraries.
The Iranian government itself is giving us the clearest evidence of what a nuclear Iran would mean, with its fanatical hate-filled declarations about wanting to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. But send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
We could deter the nuclear power of the Soviet Union with our own nuclear power. But you cannot deter suicidal terrorists. You can only kill them or stop them from getting what they need to kill you.
We are killing them in Iraq, though our media seem wholly uninterested in that part of the story, just as they seem uninterested in the fact that the fate of Western civilization may be at stake just across the border in Iran.
Of course they would like us to prevent Iran from going nuclear — if it can be done nicely by diplomacy, with the approval of the U.N., and in ways that do not offend "world opinion."
It is as if we were on the Niagara River and wanted to go ashore before it was too late, but did not want to turn on the motors for fear of disturbing the neighbors with excessive noise.
One thing about the USSR: Even with nuclear weapons, it was a rational. At the end of the day, despite all the revolutionary rhetoric, the USSR was essentially a conservative oligarchy that was unwilling to push too far in its games of brinksmanship. As such, it could be deterred. For instance, after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Politburo forced Khrushchev into retirement. He had pushed a little too far, and had to go.
Such considerations simply don't have any place in the terrorist mindset. People who are willing to fly airliners into buildings are not particularly concerned with the personal losses their actions might occasion. Yes, one notes that terrorist leaders are never all that keen to achieve martyrdom, but, really, they don't have to as long as they can round up perfectly willing cannon-fodder.
Here in the United States, there's simply no real seriousness on the part of the Left to pursue our enemies, in Iraq, or anywhere elseFor better or worse, the Iranian leadership has a terrorist mindset. That's unsurprising, really, since a good deal of modern terrorism exists because Iran purposely helped spawn it. I know WMD arguments are in bad odor right now, but if you think an Iran armed with nuclear weapons, under the current whack job who's running the show over there, wouldn't be a significant threat, then you're a fool.
Not that we'll do anything about stopping it, except to pass along strongly worded notes.
And, even if Iran didn't give a few small nukes to Al-Qaida, or whoever, having nukes mounted on Shahab-3s capable of hitting Italy would allow them to blackmail the EU into Finlandizing itself when it came to supporting US policy on practically anything. So far, France has managed to do exactly what it set out to do: to turn continental Europe into France writ large. As such, the first option of the EU, when faced with crazies who have their finger on the button, and who are willing to push it, would be to surrender. So, if Iran gets nukes, at the very least you can write off the US having any allies in Western Europe.
Oh, and that's a best case scenario for Europe, as we'll discuss in due course.
By the way, a big "thank you" is due to Jimmy Carter, for giving us the Legacy of Iran as an Islamic Republic that continues to bedevil us to this day.
Meanwhile, here in the United States, there's simply no real seriousness on the part of the Left to pursue our enemies,, in Iraq, or anywhere else. Indeed, their seriousness about defending the US at all is questionable. The whole NSA wiretapping deal is a perfect example. No matter what the president did, even if he had gotten FISA-ordered court warrants, the fact that he was surveilling enemies and potential enemies of the United States with wiretaps would've been just a big a scandal on the left. As Andrew McCarthy makes clear in a satirical column, the New York Times scandal article about FISA approved surveillance writes itself.
Bush Secretly Conducted Large-scale Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 — Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly directed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity.
According to intelligence officials and others familiar with the domestic spying program, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of their growing unease, there was little or no evidence that those targeted for surveillance had engaged in any criminal conduct. Nevertheless, under pressure from Vice President Cheney and other administration hawks, sources said the NSA carried out the covert operation with the approval of a secret court created under an obscure 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or "FISA."
A long-established legal framework requires the government to demonstrate to a federal judge probable cause that a serious crime has been committed before electronic surveillance of telephone or email communications may be permitted. Officials privately concede, however, that the Bush administration skirted this constitutional requirement. Instead, it resorted to the FISA court, whose proceedings are shrouded in such secrecy that it convenes in a sound-proof room inside the Justice Department rather than an independent courthouse open to the public...
Moreover, unlike wiretap applications under federal criminal law, which are generally made public once an investigation is concluded, FISA wiretap applications remain forever under seal. Thus, even if conversations captured by the secret surveillance were later to be used in prosecuting Americans for alleged crimes, the decision to use FISA ensures that their counsel would not be allowed to review, much less challenge, the representations made by the Bush Justice Department to enable the covert eavesdropping.
Privacy experts expressed shock and anger over what they described as an obviously widespread, systematic gutting of core constitutional protections. The Bush administration, they said, had accomplished an unprecedented end-around the Fourth Amendment, using a secret court that is a virtual rubber-stamp to invade the most sensitive, private conversations between Americans and their loved ones, friends, business associates, doctors, lawyers, and others — all without any evidence of wrongdoing.
It would be amusing, really, if it wasn't true.
The most irritating this about the whole NSA deal is that it’s more or less exactly what FDR did in the 1940s with the MAGIC communications intercepts. The government not only monitored phone calls, but read telegrams, opened mail, etc., and did it all without a warrant, or so much as a by-your-leave from Congress.
Apparently, there was a war on at the time.
The debate on national security on the Left has become a big game of "gotcha!" whose sole purpose is to embarrass the administration. Of course, when you don't actually have any policy yourself on what to do in the War on Terror—or if you don't believe the War on Terror exists at all, except as a big fraud by the Bushitler-Big Oil-Religious Right axis (the real Axis of Evil)—then "gotcha!" is really all you've got.
Indeed, Democrats are now salivating at the chance to play the biggest "gotcha!" card of all, as Katrina Vanden Heuvel explains in The Nation.
In the last months, several organizations, including AfterDowningStreet, Impeach Central and ImpeachPAC.org, have formed to urge Bush's impeachment. But until very recently, their views were virtually absent in the so-called "liberal" MSM, and could only be found on the Internet and in street protests.
But the times they are a' changin'. The I-word has moved from the marginal to the mainstream—although columnists like Charles "torture-is-fine-by-me" Krauthammer would like us to believe that "only the most brazen and reckless and partisan" could support the idea. In fact, as Michelle Goldberg reports in Salon, "in the past few days, impeachment "has become a topic of considered discussion among constitutional scholars and experts (including a few Republicans), former intelligence officers, and even a few politicians." Even a moderately liberal columnist like Newsweek's Alter sounds like The Nation, observing: "We're seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator."
As Editor & Publisher recently reported, the idea of impeaching Bush has entered the mainstream media's circulatory system—with each day producing more op-eds and articles on the subject. Joining the chorus on Christmas Eve, conservative business magazine Barron's published a lengthy editorial excoriating the president for committing a potentially impeachable offense. "If we don't discuss the program and lack of authority of it," wrote Barron's editorial page editor Thomas Donlan, "we are meeting the enemy—in the mirror."
Public opinion is also growing more comfortable with the idea of impeaching this president. A Zogby International poll conducted this summer found that 42 percent of Americans felt that impeaching Bush would be justified if it was shown that he had manipulated intelligence in going to war in Iraq. (John Zogby admitted that "it was much higher than I expected.") By November, the number of those who favored impeaching Bush stood at 53 percent—if it was in fact proven that Bush had lied about the basis for invading Iraq. (And these polls were taken before the revelations of Bush's domestic spying.)
The most irritating this about the whole NSA deal is that it’s more or less exactly what FDR did in the 1940s with the MAGIC communications interceptsThe Democrats are starting to believe that they have a good shot at taking over Congress in November, and people like Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), or, as she is often called, "the Albert Einstein of the Senate" is already consulting staff lawyers to see if impeachment proceedings can be implemented. Well, I don't need a lawyer to answer that one. An impeachable offense is whatever Congress says it is.
Still, one is amused by the idea of impeaching George W. Bush, only to get Dick Cheney as his replacement.
Of course, he can be impeached, too, and don't you forget it.
Most distressing of all is that, if we can't find it in ourselves, as a people, to be serious about our own defense now, it certainly won't get easier in the future. Because, as Mark Steyn notes, the world is changing.
Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries. There'll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands—probably—just as in Istanbul there's still a building called St. Sophia's Cathedral. But it's not a cathedral; it's merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West...
Americans sometimes don't understand how far gone most of the rest of the developed world is down this path: In the Canadian and most Continental cabinets, the defense ministry is somewhere an ambitious politician passes through on his way up to important jobs like the health department. I don't think Don Rumsfeld would regard it as a promotion if he were moved to Health and Human Services.
That is a sad, but true fact about how defense is regarded in most other western countries. And why should it be any different? Leftists have been carping for decades about how most of the world's ills stem from the patriarchal, imperialistic Western culture. Now that the Left runs pretty much all of Western Europe, why should we expect them to care about defending it?
That's what the war's about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: "Civilizations die from suicide, not murder"—as can be seen throughout much of "the Western world" right now. The progressive agenda—lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism—is collectively the real suicide bomb. Take multiculturalism. The great thing about multiculturalism is that it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures—the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It's fundamentally a fraud, and I would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don't want to live in anything but an advanced Western society. Multiculturalism means your kid has to learn some wretched native dirge for the school holiday concert instead of getting to sing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or that your holistic masseuse uses techniques developed from Native American spirituality, but not that you or anyone you care about should have to live in an African or Native American society. It's a quintessential piece of progressive humbug.
Then September 11 happened. And bizarrely the reaction of just about every prominent Western leader was to visit a mosque: President Bush did, the prince of Wales did, the prime minister of the United Kingdom did, the prime minister of Canada did . . . The premier of Ontario didn't, and so 20 Muslim community leaders had a big summit to denounce him for failing to visit a mosque. I don't know why he didn't. Maybe there was a big backlog, it was mosque drive time, prime ministers in gridlock up and down the freeway trying to get to the Sword of the Infidel-Slayer Mosque on Elm Street. But for whatever reason he couldn't fit it into his hectic schedule. Ontario's citizenship minister did show up at a mosque, but the imams took that as a great insult, like the Queen sending Fergie to open the Commonwealth Games. So the premier of Ontario had to hold a big meeting with the aggrieved imams to apologize for not going to a mosque and, as the Toronto Star's reported it, "to provide them with reassurance that the provincial government does not see them as the enemy."
Anyway, the get-me-to-the-mosque-on-time fever died down, but it set the tone for our general approach to these atrocities. The old definition of a nanosecond was the gap between the traffic light changing in New York and the first honk from a car behind. The new definition is the gap between a terrorist bombing and the press release from an Islamic lobby group warning of a backlash against Muslims. In most circumstances, it would be considered appallingly bad taste to deflect attention from an actual "hate crime" by scaremongering about a purely hypothetical one. Needless to say, there is no campaign of Islamophobic hate crimes. If anything, the West is awash in an epidemic of self-hate crimes. A commenter on Tim Blair's Web site in Australia summed it up in a note-perfect parody of a Guardian headline: "Muslim Community Leaders Warn of Backlash from Tomorrow Morning's Terrorist Attack." Those community leaders have the measure of us.
Yes, they do. After all, when you have no confidence in your own society, you are always keen to avoid giving offense to others by seeming insensitive. Especially after all the difficulties your society has caused in the past. So, you don't ask pointed questions to Muslim leaders about why they don't publicly and constantly condemn terrorist atrocities. You don't publicly wonder why, for the last 1,000 years, Arab Muslim countries have been pestholes of dictatorship and oppression. Such questions might be seen as, you know, insensitive. Oh, and racist.
Mustn't forget that. No, it's better to do everything you can to visibly include Muslims in the multicultural community of communities, and have them stand by your side as you make endless speeches about how Islam is the "Religion of Peace". Such a sentiment would no doubt have amused the Prophet Mohamed and his successors, by the way, considering that they waged four centuries of war to spread Islam throughout the known world via military conquest. But, sometimes, the urge to appease Muslim sentiment goes much farther than simply repeating the "Islam means Peace" verbal pabulum.
For example, one day in 2004, a couple of Canadians returned home, to Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto. They were the son and widow of a fellow called Ahmed Said Khadr, who back on the Pakistani-Afghan frontier was known as "al-Kanadi." Why? Because he was the highest-ranking Canadian in al Qaeda—plenty of other Canucks in al Qaeda, but he was the Numero Uno. In fact, one could argue that the Khadr family is Canada's principal contribution to the war on terror. Granted they're on the wrong side (if you'll forgive my being judgmental) but no can argue that they aren't in the thick of things. One of Mr. Khadr's sons was captured in Afghanistan after killing a U.S. Special Forces medic. Another was captured and held at Guantanamo. A third blew himself up while killing a Canadian soldier in Kabul. Pa Khadr himself died in an al Qaeda shootout with Pakistani forces in early 2004. And they say we Canadians aren't doing our bit in this war!
In the course of the fatal shootout of al-Kanadi, his youngest son was paralyzed. And, not unreasonably, Junior didn't fancy a prison hospital in Peshawar. So Mrs. Khadr and her boy returned to Toronto so he could enjoy the benefits of Ontario government health care. "I'm Canadian, and I'm not begging for my rights," declared the widow Khadr. "I'm demanding my rights"...
[T]he prime minister of Canada thought Boy Khadr's claims on the public health system was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate his own deep personal commitment to "diversity." Asked about the Khadrs' return to Toronto, he said, "I believe that once you are a Canadian citizen, you have the right to your own views and to disagree."
That's the wonderful thing about multiculturalism: You can choose which side of the war you want to fight on. When the draft card arrives, just tick "home team" or "enemy," according to taste.
Ah. Yes. Musn't forget that the Khadr's have "rights". Which, now, apparently, include engaging the armed forces of your own country in open combat, then demanding that country pay for your medical care. And, if you're the Prime Minister, why not? What better way to showcase the diversity of your government? Some, of course, might wonder why young Mr. Khadr isn't standing in the dock before the Queen's Bench for treason, and getting his free medical care in pre-trial confinement. But, of course, that overlooks Mr. Kadr's sacred right to "disagree" with the government.
No, we're not worried about defending our culture from the likes of the Kadr's. We're worried about offending the Khadr's. That's not a good sign.
And the signs for the future are even more ominous.
When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2006, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 (or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management and Queer Studies degrees). And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they're running out a lot faster than the oil is. "Replacement" fertility rate—i.e., the number you need for merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any smaller—is 2.1 babies per woman. Some countries are well above that: the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan 6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?
Scroll way down to the bottom of the Hot One Hundred top breeders and you'll eventually find the United States, hovering just at replacement rate with 2.07 births per woman. Ireland is 1.87, New Zealand 1.79, Australia 1.76. But Canada's fertility rate is down to 1.5, well below replacement rate; Germany and Austria are at 1.3, the brink of the death spiral; Russia and Italy are at 1.2; Spain 1.1, about half replacement rate. That's to say, Spain's population is halving every generation. By 2050, Italy's population will have fallen by 22%, Bulgaria's by 36%, Estonia's by 52%. In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: In the 2004 election, John Kerry won the 16 with the lowest birthrates; George W. Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest. By 2050, there will be 100 million fewer Europeans, 100 million more Americans—and mostly red-state Americans...
Nineteen seventy doesn't seem that long ago. If you're the age many of the chaps running the Western world today are wont to be, your pants are narrower than they were back then and your hair's less groovy, but the landscape of your life—the look of your house, the layout of your car, the shape of your kitchen appliances, the brand names of the stuff in the fridge—isn't significantly different. Aside from the Internet and the cell phone and the CD, everything in your world seems pretty much the same but slightly modified.
And yet the world is utterly altered. Just to recap those bald statistics: In 1970, the developed world had twice as big a share of the global population as the Muslim world: 30% to 15%. By 2000, they were the same: each had about 20%.
And by 2020?
In other words, forget our European "allies", especially in Western Europe. They barely exist now. They'll hardly exist at all in 15 years, at least not in any sense that we understand them now. Europe is becoming Islamized through immigration. What will happen to the Western heritage of human rights, limited government, personal freedom, and free markets then? Will an Islamized Europe defend them if a post-Christian Europe will not? And can the United States defend them without allies, all alone in a world where the West's political and intellectual heritage is regarded with hostility? Very few people are even thinking about these questions. Because, like most societies of the past, we tend to think that the way things are now, is the way they will always be.
Permanence is the illusion of every age. In 1913, no one thought the Russian, Austrian, German and Turkish empires would be gone within half a decade. Seventy years on, all those fellows who dismissed Reagan as an "amiable dunce" (in Clark Clifford's phrase) assured us the Soviet Union was likewise here to stay. The CIA analysts' position was that East Germany was the ninth biggest economic power in the world. In 1987 there was no rash of experts predicting the imminent fall of the Berlin Wall, the Warsaw Pact and the USSR itself.
Change, when it comes, can be quick, and catch us all by surprise. But, in this case, there should be no surprise. The trends are there for all to see.
Since the president unveiled the so-called Bush Doctrine—the plan to promote liberty throughout the Arab world—innumerable "progressives" have routinely asserted that there's no evidence Muslims want liberty and, indeed, that Islam is incompatible with democracy. If that's true, it's a problem not for the Middle East today but for Europe the day after tomorrow. According to a poll taken in 2004, over 60% of British Muslims want to live under Shariah—in the United Kingdom. If a population "at odds with the modern world" is the fastest-breeding group on the planet—if there are more Muslim nations, more fundamentalist Muslims within those nations, more and more Muslims within non-Muslim nations, and more and more Muslims represented in more and more transnational institutions—how safe a bet is the survival of the "modern world"?
The best defense is a good offense, offense, in this case, being to transmit the culture and values that have underpinned Western economic and political dominance to the Muslim world. That means promoting democracy, limited government, human rights, and free markets to a region of the world where they have been essentially nonexistent for the last millennium. And, even then, I'm not sure it's possible to do effectively. I just think it's the only policy that has any chance of succeeding.
Forget our European "allies", especially in Western Europe. They barely exist now. They'll hardly exist at all in 15 years.Whether we'll actually even attempt to do so, and do so consistently, over the long term—is an open question. In the current political climate of America, I doubt it. And the only thing that will change the political climate is, I think, another—or perhaps more than one—terrorist attack. And a truly horrific one.
As I've related before, back in the early days after 9/11, Sci-Fi author John Ringo predicted that America would pull together for a while, but would soon fall back to squabbling, until there was another terrorist attack, at which point the cycle would start all over again. He predicted the cycle would repeat until the patience of the electorate snapped, and we went to full-scale war with the Muslim world.
Apparently, he was right. Maybe that's what it will take for the current generation of Americans to learn what our grandparents learned to their dismay in the 1930s: that liberty must be defended, and that our society, for all its faults, is far, far better than anything that is available to replace it.
So, you know what? To that end, I'm perfectly prepared to let the Left have its way.
I'll make a deal with the Left: You wanna impeach President Bush? Go ahead. Knock yourself out. In fact, let's just go to the polls and turn the whole government over to the Democrats. You wanna run the whole show? Fine. Elect Howard Dean President. End all surveillance against possible enemy combatants, unless you can get a warrant based on probable cause. Withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. Permanently kill the PATRIOT Act. Do whatever you want to do. I'm perfectly willing, at this point, to do it your way.
I mean, really, what's the worst that can happen? An American city goes up in nuclear fire? Well, it’ll probably be New York, Chicago, or LA. You know, a major city. I don't live there, nor do most Americans. So we'll be fine.
But here's the other half of the deal: If that happens, we get to march on Washington, drag you naked and screaming from your offices, and hang you from the ornate lampposts that line The Mall. Then, free from roadblocks thrown up by infantile political fools, maybe we'll get serious about defending the United States, her people, her freedoms, and her values, in an increasingly hostile world.
Did you actually read what I wrote? Apparently not.
The best defense is a good offense, offense, in this case, being to transmit the culture and values that have underpinned Western economic and political dominance to the Muslim world. That means promoting democracy, limited government, human rights, and free markets to a region of the world where they have been essentially nonexistent for the last millennium.
Nope. Nothing about China or India anywhere in there.
Pointing fingers at bipartisan political scandals will not solve the problems that Dale is addressing. How one gets from the reestablishment of the Caliphate to Abramoff is beyond comprehension. The problem is that people like you don’t even believe/understand the Islamist threat. If they succeed, I don’t expect you’ll believe/understand what is happening to you and your family either. Regards
That was a great post, Dale. It articulated the way I’ve been feeling for months. I too have been doubting that we’re going to win this conflict.
I still have hope for two reasons:
One is the realization of what we have accomplished so far since 9-11. We’ve come very far in the war on terror and have done so with one arm tied behind our back - the Democrat arm.
The other reason is my faith in the wisdom of the common man. As long as we have an electoral process that puts the ultimate decision-making power in the hands of the people, we have a huge advantage over any enemy.
I think we (the U.S., that is) will get it together if Osama and his ilk are foolish enough to pull off another 9/11. I guess that wasn’t "Pearl Harbor," but the next attack on U.S. soil will be "Pearl Harbor." Then, watch out.
Dale, I wasn’t two sentences into the post before I thought "He’s been reading that Mark Steyn piece."
It is powerful. Many of its points look pretty irrefutable to me, at least in the short term.
And, as James Lileks said over a year ago, I’ve become almost resigned to the idea of losing an American city to a nuclear attack. If 3000 people dead in a couple of hours is not enough, then it will take something of that magnitude before there’s a serious change in course.
And yet, and yet...
There’s a famous story told by Herodotus, if memory serves. A thief caught stealing from the king’s household is brought before the king for sentencing. The king is prepared to sentence him to death. The thief pleads for his life saying it would terrible to waste it because he has the special ability to teach animals to sing. The king is amused, and defers the death sentence for one year, and charges the thief with proving his claim by teaching the king’s favorite horse to sing.
The thief works with the horse every day, all day. After a month or so, the stable master laughs at the thief, and says, "You don’t really expect to teach that horse to sing, do you?"
The thief shrugs and replies "Many things might happen. The horse might die. The king might die. I might die. And who knows? Maybe that horse really will learn to sing."
Our struggle right now is the same as that thief’s. We’re trying to teach the left to understand the horrors we face, and they seem no more capable of understanding them than the horse is able to sing.
But every instance in which we buy some time opens possibilities. Maybe a spreading of free societies will sap the Islamist movement of its strength. Maybe at least some of the Europeans will find courage they’ve not shown since WWII and begin to fight back in earnest.
Or maybe the horse will sing - that is, the left in this country and Europe will really wake up and realize that they are facilitating a world dominated by a culture that would oppress gays, women, free inquiry, and everything else they claim to hold dear. And begin to fight with us.
Overly optimistic? Possibly. But I’m not ready to give up yet. Maybe we can still do it without 100,000 Americans having to die to convince enough of us that the left has been fools beyond measure. Maybe the sourness and cravenness of the left will marginalize them, and let us become serious about winning this struggle. If not, well...
I’m unfortunately all too ready for that day that I hear the news that a city is gone. I’ll do a quick reality check to see if I’m dreaming, and realize I’m not. And then I’ll see what I can do to help in fighting the real battle that will come, if there’s enough left in the spirit of Western civilization to wage that battle.
Import more non-muslim immigrants like the Chinese.
Just wait until a muslim mayor tries to ban pork, gambling, and alcohol in a city with as many Chinese as muslims...
Again, I find it interesting that in Europe where economic competition is supposedly lower and health care free that less people have children. You’d think that knowing you have a safety net would make people breed more.
"One thing about the USSR: Even with nuclear weapons, it was a rational."
Interesting you should posit Russian rationality. I remember in the eighties feeling a cold gloom at Russia shooting down the Korean airliner. That incident told me the USSR was NOT rational and could act on its irrationality with impunity.
Meanwhile, the West, especially the USA, constrained itself and adhered to a moral code that was tantamount to committing suicide given Russia’s political freedom from morality of any sort.
Once again, we are confronted with implacable irrationality and seemingly lack the balls to do what is necessary to win the situation. Torture? Eavesdropping? The KGB never blinked. Admirable, in a Darwinian way.
I remember in the eighties feeling a cold gloom at Russia shooting down the Korean airliner. That incident told me the USSR was NOT rational and could act on its irrationality with impunity.
Really? Why? Who was going to go to war with the USSR over shooting down a foreign aircraft over its own airspace? We certainly weren’t. Indeed, from the USSR’s point of view, it was a relatively risk-free way to do something chilling that said, "don’t f*ck with us".
I have to tell you, I read what you wrote, and it’s usually the exact sort of thing I agree with. But I read it and thought about it....and I have to tell you, my conclusion actually suprise me.
My conclusion is basically a big shrug and an "eh"
Western civilization, if it declines and collapses.....no big loss. Because by the time that happens- the very fact that it was allowed to happen- shows that said civilization had become a worthless piece of shit by that time anyway. Basically, Western civilization will survive if it deserves to.
If it does survive, great, I’m very happy. If it doesn’t....well, the people who allowed it to happen would deserve what they get. Comon, nobody here can deny that they would take a peverse pleasure in watching our new Sharia overlords lead the oh so sensitive, multi-culti dhimmis to the chopping block first. If we could look into their eyes, hear their pleadings, see the shock of realization just before the sword falls, one thinks it would almost be worth it, even if your head was next.
I’m not even sure now that western civilization is worth fighting for. Actually, Western Civilization (Read; Europe) is NOT worth fighting for. America is a different story, it won’t end the same as Europe (it may end, but Europe is dying without a whimper, if we go down we’re taking a lot with us). But I want to have kids. And I want my kids to have kids....and that’s worth fighting for. The idea that I’m trying to also preserve freedom for a lot of ungrateful leftist dhimmis who neither want nor deserve that freedom sickens me. But I want that world for my future family members, so I’ll gladly see it happen.
But we’ll be preparing them for the eventuality that it doesn’t.
Again, if American civilization survives, it deserved to.
I’m not particularly worried about us losing the war on terror. Our decline is a matter of legitimate concern, but if we do decline it will not be to be replaced with Islamist theocracy. It will be to be replaced by Asian nations being passed the torch of western progress while we fall behind.
There was never any chance of Islamist defeating us, at least on any grand scale, regardless of our will or lack thereof. Even if we were to fail in Iraq, it would not be because Islamist were victorious. It would be, much in the same way as Vietnam, that an initially idealogical struggle turned into a nationalist one. Most of those fighting against our forces in Iraq are no more Islamist than most of those who fought against our forces in Vietnam were really communists.
Extremist Islam, much like communism, is a system that is doomed to failure by its very nature. We need to do little more than defend ourselves against it while awaiting for its own eventual self-termination.
Yeah, yeah, YEAH World’s goin’ ta Hell in a handbasket... Tell it to the Marines. Spengler said, the Club of Rome said, I believe Adam himself said it after the Expulsion and the death of his son, Abel. Just because you say and mean, doesn’t make it so.
Now Dale, please translate your Dutch. And when/why did you learn it?
Ik heb geen oplossing voor u. Ik leefde in Brunssum vier jaar, maar Nederland is uw land, niet mijn. U moet een oplossing vinden die de werken in uw land, enkel aangezien ik voor mijn moet.
I have no solution for you. I lived in Brunssum for four years but the Netherlands is not my country, it’s yours. You must find a solution that will work in your country, I only have to for mine.
Or something to that effect.
Dale, I can tell you’re a fun guy to be around. And if all of the doom and gloom that you might think would happen under a Democrat actually happens under Bush, does that mean we get to tar and feather him?
"No matter what the president did, even if he had gotten FISA-ordered court warrants, the fact that he was surveilling enemies and potential enemies of the United States with wiretaps would’ve been just a big a scandal on the left. As Andrew McCarthy makes clear in a satirical column, the New York Times scandal article about FISA approved surveillance writes itself."
Dale, I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to draw conclusions.
Here’s the logic, and it’s quite easy to follow: your thesis is that Western Civilization is defending itself too weakly. China is rapidly assuming most of the trappings of Western civilization. They are also aggressively attacking Muslim separatists in Western China in the exact same way you (and Steyn) say Europe and the US should. But they get criticized for it...incidentally, by the same people that don’t want to defend the US and Europe’s western civilization.
It may take a harsh authoritarian response to defend Western civilization from Islam. Are you willing to let the US govt do what China does? If so, why? If not, why not?
But then, to be fair, I had to admit that India is probably another good example, to an extent. They are battling Muslim extremists in Kashmir, have a growing population that is also growing in wealth, and are actually democratic.
...except that they are willing to sacrifice people in Kashmir for political gain, so maybe they aren’t the best example, either.
Point is: do you really want a harsh govt crackdown to force Muslim immigrants to integrate? I don’t see any other answer, if I take Steyn’s and your words as 100% accurate.
Personally, I do think Europe and the US should determine what we stand for, and be willing to defend it despite shrieks/howls of protest from people who would rather be politically correct than alive. Doing so, we will be compared to China’s harsh govt. To which I say, So what? When threatened with survival, you fight back with the weapons at hand.
nathan’s comment above can be summarized as "if our idealistic American principles cannot withstand challenge and fear, then we shall shed them and continue to call this America. As long as we can continue to live, all is well, and all is justified."
i disagree. i remember the first six or eight months after the attacks, the buzz phrase was a constant drumming of "that would be letting the terrorists win." as in "staying home and not shopping would be letting the terrorists win."
well, changing the principles of our nation, even though ideals are hard to live up to in stressful times, is not acceptable. that would trulty be letting the terrorists win.
I find it interesting that one cannot identify themselves as utterly committed to combatting Islamic extremism while being unwilling to sacrifice basic Constitutional freedoms. Specifically, whatever happened to the conservative in Conservative? Perhaps I would feel more trusting of a government that was willing to sacrifice my freedoms in order to "protect" me if it had shown the ability at any point to resist the temptation to abuse that power.
In the run-up to the war on Iraq, anti-war protestors were placed on the "no-fly list," a move clearly designed to limit dissension. The false intelligence, enemy combatant status, torture protocol and secret monitoring are all clear marks of an Executive Branch seeking to shed many of its checks. There is also evidence of domestic spying on domestic activist groups like Catholic Worker, Greenpeace, etc. Regardless of whether you agree with their politics, there are cases that need investigation. If one is inclined to take a skeptical take of the administration, they will find ample evidence to do so. The converse is true as well.
The real problem I see is that the real questions are not being answered. We have let Afghanistan return to a state of relative lawlessness, we have not expended our resourses in the massive OHS bureacracy wisely, and we are fighting a war where I feel the interests of American enterprise may run contrary to the interests of our national security. Unless you view economics as a form of national security, I think our interests would have been better served prosecuting the war elsewhere in the region. Building a democracy sounds great in theory, but we are opening Iraq almost completely to foreign investment, with little regulation requiring reinvestment of those profits back into the country.
I think the best lesson to learn from Vietnam was that if you are going to go into a conflict of this type, you go all the way. I feel that I’m left with a Hobson’s choice between incompetent warhawks, and strategically-devoid critics. Perhaps if some of the energy on the right was devoted to critically examining how we can achieve our objectives instead of using labelling dissenters as traitors then this conflict could move along.
(I’m not implying that is what is done in this thread. I detect animosity to the left, but it all seems grounded in fact to me, if colored by each writer’s personal bias)
"Or maybe the horse will sing - that is, the left in this country and Europe will really wake up and realize that they are facilitating a world dominated by a culture that would oppress gays, women, free inquiry, and everything else they claim to hold dear. And begin to fight with us."
They already believe that. Except we are the ones who they believe will do that, not the Islamists. The Christian Taliban is here at home, remember? Not all of them are idiots, many realize who we’re fighting. But they’re more terrified of us, because we’re closer, and they don’t believe the Islamists are really all that dangerous in the big scope of things.
We’re the ones that are dangerous. Al Qaeda is not their biggest fear, the Republican [or anti-left] agenda [real or imagined] is their biggest fear. They commit to the war, and [in their mind] allow the Republicans to completely shape the political agenda for a decade or two. They can’t support a broader and more prolongued wareffort without losing the core of their party and many of their most fundamental political beliefs.
This is as big a defeat for them than the occasional terrorist attack, the threat of which many of them even discount. If their ideological and political leadership does not detest our political and cultural beliefs as much as the Islamists, they still fear our capability to shape American society more.
It will take a HUGE bomb to change that dynamic, if anything ever will. In their minds, the two sides in this country are increasingly incompatible imo.
The main reason the U.S. isn’t doing anything about Iran is that the army and the government is tied up with Iraq.
If Bush and Cheney had been serious about the threat of Islamism, they would not have invaded Iraq, a secular dictatorship, and removed Saddam, Osama’s worst enemy. The current troubles stem from the fact that the contemporary right was not serious about national security nor about the nature of the threat we face.
The nature of the threat we face is two-fold: to preserve security while not succumbing to fear and despair (which is exactly what Osama wants). The Bush administration and its cultists want us to live in fear, and live in a state of perpetual war. They want the terrorists to win, in other words.
Instead of that, look to the people of New York — the city that suffered the brunt of the attacks of 1993 and 2001. Did New York become less liberal? No. Did New York become less multi-cultural? No. Did New York turn into a pro-Bush city? No. Why? Because New Yorkers are not afraid; New Yorkers went on preserving their way of life, understanding that while it is necessary to be careful, it is also necessary to understand that a terrorist attack does not and should not destroy one’s way of life. That is true courage. That is true resolve.
Conservatives — especially conservatives in cities that are not likely to be attacked — should stop being afraid and learn from the courage and resolve of liberals.
"we get to march on Washington, drag you naked and screaming from your offices, and hang you from the ornate lampposts that line The Mall."
Well remind me to bring my long raincoat!
Gee, I cannot be grateful enough for bumpkin vigilance against Armaggedon, but do try to hang the right people from the right lamposts. The offices "along mall" are pretty much taken up by Smithsonian archivists, art curators and bug collectors. Try to do better when targeting Korea. Nota Bene: North is "up" on most maps
And the nearby lamposts are are Doric at best—well short of "ornate." I doubt, in any case, if there are enough of them to hang all those who disagree with you, given that we now make up well over half the nation. The half that can read a map.
So basically, you’re saying that if the left fails to protect America, lets Osama attack us and then ignores him, strips us of our liberties thereby destroying the very thing we seek to defend, that you and your fascist ilk are at liberty to carry out the following Nazi fantasy.
We get to march on Washington, drag you naked and screaming from your offices, and hang you from the ornate lampposts that line The Mall. Then, free from roadblocks thrown up by infantile political fools, maybe we’ll get serious about defending the United States, her people, her freedoms, and her values, in an increasingly hostile world.
It’s only by the grace of God and the left’s solid family values that we haven’t done this to you already. Peace.
You are blaming everyone but yourselves. You guys screwed up, big time.
The pessimism we all feel now is becasue of THAT not because of the red herrings you discuss here. Your list is basically a long lament that the world won’t do what you tell it to. And what you guys told it to do was wrong in the first place, so don’t blame the world or the left!
Your blaming Carter for the fall of the Shah is a case in point. Iran was wrecked by an American Coup that installed a repressive, vicious dictator in the Shah over an honest democracy after World War II. The corrupt Shah was overthrown by a tidal wave of revolt from every segment and street corner in Iran, and their current hatred of America stems from our original betrayal of democracy in Iran and support for the Shah, the torturer. Carter could have saved Iran if he had been in power in 1949: he would have supported Iranian democracy and Human rights!
Just one more example of how military action and tough guy geopolitcs can create disastrers.
Carter had no control or way of stopping the Iranian Revolution, and neither did Ronald Reagan, who did deals with them. Blaming Carter is a symptom of the right’s deeply misguided search for easy ideological answers to a messy world.
Look, my point is you are clearly a thoughtful conservative and gloomy at the way things have gone on your watch. I am a strong Dem and gloomy as well.
But looking around the world for people or ideologies to blame is pointless for either side.
What we need now is idealism, absolutely, but hard headed realism, extreme cleverness, strategic thinking, allies, and tough action when it makes sense, and above all honor in all our actions.
Democrats are not hapless dweebs who just want to make trouble for Bush: I know, I am one. What we believe is that Bush made a fundamental set of errors that has destroyed international concensus and comity, weakened us militarily, created a potential terror nightmare in Iraq, undermined our very values as a nation, allowed Osama escape and new recruits, and largely disgraced the nation and ruined our security.
The Democratic Plan was not wimpville. It was this: UP military spending and troop levels, invade Afghanistan, Kill or Capture Bin Laden and Crew, include allies every step of the way (even France has sent troops to Afghanistan remember! Make a clear set of ultimatums to Saddam: permament UN inspections, free acces to all sites, inspection of Iraqi prisons, freeing of Iraqi poltical prisoners, tighten oil exports, continued ban on military trade. Iran: demand al Al Qaeda suspects, demand no nukes, offer trade and warming of ties if cooperative, embargo and potential military action if not, take out a few Iranian Navy ships or military planes if needed. North Korea: offer a a deal on Nukes —food and energy if they give them up — and continue to encourage them to open up ala china. Privately remind them that ANY or sale of Nukes or attack across the parallel will cause the utter destruction of their nation and death to all their leaders. Guess what: they tend to deal under those circumstances and were actually opening up slowly until Bush acted like a stupid child and called them silly names and threatend them publicly. Gather all the good feeling and support of the world after 9/11 into a world wide effort at both anti-terorism and promotion of democracy and human rights. Follow all international norms on prisoners and torture, be transparent in how we treat detainees and terrorists. Where there is legal ambiguity, clear it up with world agreements and negotiations. You can arrest and kill and hunt terrorists without being morally vicious, ambiguous or secretive. DO it tough, right and honestly. Create world institutions aiming to help aid tracking and capture of terrorists. Increase cooperation between all intelligence services. Increase CIA, Interpol, Arabic language experts etc. Make clear that ANY nation, like the Taliban had, which harbors, encourages or trains terorists will be considered equally guilty in any of their attacks, and will be considered to have enaged in acts of war against the USA. And we will act accordingly to remove the threat, whatever it requires.
But the most important aspect is tosupport full on human rights and democracy for the world. We need to promote them storngly and relentlessy, criticizing China, and all otehr countries who are undemocratic. This should not just be talk, there should be sanctions, critiques, economic effects, public condemenations and reports. At the same time educational exchange, cultural exchange, economic exchange shoudlbe promoted to teach and include all countries in our modern liberalism. W e shoudlwelcome thousands and thousands of students from around the world to train and prepare them for the future, and make friends.
Well, you get the idea.
NO shying away from our military responsibilities and total preparation and use of our military. Back up fair but overwhelming military superiority with honesty, fairness, respect, and willingness to listen and inculde the world in our efforts. Take most steps multilaterally. Uphold the best and strongest of who we are. Be open and friendly. Promote deep cultural interaction and people exchange with Islam and the wider world.
Hardly wimpdom. And so much better than the catastrophe of the Bush strategy. HE has eleminated a man who had nothign in his pockets, bogged us down with it, allowed a victory by Al Qaeda on two fronts, revealed our military as surprisingly weak in the long term, repelled an disgusted the world we need to win against terorism, and left us in general tatters.
That is NOT the left’s fault. Tony Blair is a lefty who did what you wanted and supported Bush whole hog. Blair is a discredited and spent force today as a result. Chirac is a right-winger who saw clearly how foolish this whole enterprise was, and did well be staying out if it. I don’t blame Europe for not supporting Bush: they have been proven 100% right in everything they said and warned about. We should be apologizing to them.
In a way, what they have done maintain the West’s credibility with the wider Islamic World. Bush will pass from the scene, adn because Europe still is clean in Muslims eyes, we can use that to begin the dialog and raprochement we need to lead Islam into a modern liberal tradition. With a new President and Party in power in the USA, we can begin to repair the epic damage of the GOP/Bush jihad.
The sad thing is I know you guys were really trying to do the right thing. But you got it cosmically and cataclysmically wrong, on every level possible since Tora Bora. You were babes in the woods.
I was not limiting my comment to your specific comment to the Dutchman. You constantly chastise the Left for not having a solution. One only needs to look as far as the post we’re commenting about.
The debate on national security on the Left has become a big game of "gotcha!" whose sole purpose is to embarrass the administration. Of course, when you don’t actually have any policy yourself on what to do in the War on Terror—or if you don’t believe the War on Terror exists at all, except as a big fraud by the Bushitler-Big Oil-Religious Right axis (the real Axis of Evil)—then "gotcha!" is really all you’ve got.
And, other than saying "go f*ck yourself", I won’t chastise you either.
Much appreciated, Dale. Hmm?... Must be more of that Neo “big tent” Libertarianism shinning through.
But here’s the other half of the deal: If that happens, we get to march on Washington, drag you naked and screaming from your offices, and hang you from the ornate lampposts that line The Mall.
Why do the real libertarians at this site let his fascist goon post here? Seriously, he sounds more like Mussolini than someone suspicious of government power.
Huh. That’s funny, because as I remember it, it was Mussolini who was dragged out of his office by angry citizens who were tired of paying the price for his wartime decisions, and who hung him from a lamp-post.
Which kinda makes your analogy sound...you know...stupid.