Saturday, December 17, 2005

Clarity... is such a lonely word.

I love VDH.

Clarity in a nutshell, for FREE!

No wonder newspapers are in trouble.

Victor Davis Hanson on Democrats and Iraq on National Review Online: "For some time, a large number of Americans have lived in an alternate universe where everything is supposedly going to hell. If you get up in the morning to read the New York Times or Washington Post, watch John Murtha or Howard Dean on the morning talk shows, listen to National Public Radio at noon, and go to bed reading Newsweek it surely seems that the administration is incommunicado (cf. “the bubble”), the war is lost (“unwinnable”), the Great Depression is back (“jobless recovery”), and America about as popular as Nazi Germany abroad (“alone and isolated”).

But in the real adult world, the economy is red-hot, not mired in joblessness or relegating millions to poverty. Unemployment is low, so are interest rates. Growth is high, as is consumer spending and confidence. Our Katrina was hardly as lethal as the Tsunami or Pakistani earthquake. Thousands of Arabs are not rioting in Dearborn. American elderly don’t roast and die in the thousands in their apartments as was true in France. Nor do American cities, like some in China, lose their entire water supply to a toxic spill. Americans did not just vote to reject their own Constitution as in some European countries.

The military isn’t broken. Unlike after Vietnam when the Russians, Iranians, Cambodians, and Nicaraguans all soon tried to press their luck at our expense, most of our adversaries don’t believe the U.S. military is losing in Iraq, much less that it is wise now to take it on. Instead, the general impression is that our veteran and battle-hardened forces are even more lethal than was true of the 1990s — and engaging successfully in an almost impossible war.

Nor are we creating new hordes of terrorists in Iraq — as if a young male Middle Eastern fundamentalist first hates the United States only on news that it is in Iraq crafting a new Marshall Plan of $87 billion and offering a long-oppressed people democracy after taking out Saddam Hussein. Even al Jazeera cannot turn truth into untruth forever.

Instead, the apprentice jihadist is trying to win his certification as master terrorist by trying his luck against the U.S. Marines abroad rather than on another World Trade Center at home — and failing quite unlike September 11.

Like it or not, wars are usually won or lost when one side feels its losses are too high to continue. We have suffered terribly in losing 2,100 dead in Iraq; a vastly smaller enemy in contrast may have experienced tens of thousands of terrorists killed, and is finding its safe havens and money drying up. Panic about Iraq abounds in both the American media and the periodic fatwas of Dr. Zawahiri — but not in the U. S. government or armed forces.

The world does not hate the United States. Of course, it envies us. Precisely because it is privately impressed by our unparalleled success, it judges America by a utopian measure in which anything less than perfection is written off as failure. We risk everything, our critics abroad almost nothing. So the hope for our failures naturally gives reinforcement to the bleak reality of their inaction.

The Europeans expect our protection. The Mexicans risk their lives to get here. Indians and Japanese want closer relations. The old commonwealth appreciates our strength in defense of the West. Even the hostile Iranians, North Koreans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Chinese, and radical Islamists — despite the saber-rattling rhetoric — wonder whether we are na├»ve and idealistic rather than cruel and calculating. All this we rarely consider when we read of anti-Americanism in our major newspapers or hear another angry (and usually well-off) professor or journalist recite our sins.

Al Zarqawi is in a classical paradox: He can’t defeat the American or Iraqi security forces or stop the elections. So he must dream up ever more macabre violence to gain notoriety — from beheading Americans on the television to mass murdering Shiites to blowing up third-party Jordanians. But such lashing out only further weakens his cause and makes the efforts of his enemies on the battlefield easier, as his Sunni base starts to see that this psychopath really can take his supporters all down with him.

The Palestine problem is not even worse off after Iraq. Actually, it is far better with the isolated and disgraced Arafat gone, the fence slowly inching ahead, the worst radical Islamic terrorists on the West Bank in paradise, Israel out of Gaza, and the world gradually accepting its diplomatic presence. The real hopeless mess was 1992-2000 when a well-meaning Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, and Dennis Ross still deluded themselves that a criminal gang leader like Yasser Arafat was a legitimate head of state or that you could start to end an endless war by giving his thugs thousands of M-16s.

The European way is not the answer, as we see from the farcical negotiations over Iran’s time bomb. Struggling with a small military, unsustainable entitlement promises, little real economic growth, high unemployment, falling birth rates, angry unassimilated minorities, and a suicidal policy of estrangement from its benefactor the United States, Europeans show already an 11th-hour change of heart as we see in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and soon in France.

Europe’s policy about Iran’s nuclear program can best be summed up as “Hurry up, sane and Western Israel, and take out this awful thing — so we can damn you Zionist aggressors for doing so in our morning papers.”

The administration did not prove nearly as inept in the Iraqi reconstruction as the rhetoric of its opposition was empty. The government’s chief lapse was not claiming the moral high ground for a necessary war against a fascist mass murderer — an inexplicable silence now largely addressed by George Bush’s new muscular public defense of the war. In contrast, we can sadly recall all the alternative advice of past critics across the spectrum: invade Iraq in 1998, but get out right now; trisect Iraq; attack Syria or Iran; retreat to the Shiite south; put in hundreds of thousands of more troops; or delay the elections.

Donald Rumsfeld’s supposed gaffe of evoking “Old Europe” is trumped tenfold and almost daily by slurs that depict Abu Ghraib as worse than Saddam, Guantanamo as the work of Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot, Bush as the world’s greatest terrorist, the effort to democratize Iraq as unwinnable, and American troops terrorizing Iraqi women and children.

Most Americans may grumble after reading the latest demonization in the press of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, but they are hardly ready to turn over a complex Middle East to something like a President John Kerry, Vice President Barbara Boxer, Secretary of State Howard Dean, National Security Advisor Nancy Pelosi, and Secretary of Defense John Murtha — with a kitchen cabinet of Jimmy Carter and Sandy Berger.

So at year’s end, what then is happening at home and abroad?

For the last three years we have seen a carbuncle swell as the old Vietnam War opposition rematerialized, with Michael Moore, the Hollywood elite, and Cindy Sheehan scaring the daylights out of the Democratic establishment that either pandered to or triangulated around their crazy rhetoric. The size of the Islamicist/Baathist insurrection caught the United States for a time off guard, as was true also of the sudden vehement slurs from our erstwhile allies in Europe, Canada, and Asia. Few anticipated that the turmoil in Iraq would force the Syrians out of Lebanon, the Libyans to give up their WMDs, and the Egyptians to hold elections — and that all the killing, acrimony, and furor over these developments would begin to engulf the Middle East and threaten the old order."

1 comment:

Rich said...

Ryan, Here is something I wrote several years ago in reference to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The analogies to something new beginning to happen in the Middle East are what I have in mind. Even now, everybody seems to have been on board with Afghanistan, but that is not what I remember. At the time, we were assured that Afghanistan was "impossible" and we were exhorted to remember the history from Napoleon to the Soviets. We too would be enmired, we would see tens of thousands of body bags, and we would be eaten alive. But now, of course, it seems everybody supported what we did there. Jumping on the band wagon after the fact is the rule. Only a few have courage before and during.
Paul Johnson said in an article in BUSINESSWEEK sometime ago, that the new ideology of the intellegencia is "pessimism." The intellectual classes are now sufficiently de-Christianized so that they have for all purposes returned to a pagan cyclical view of history. Nothing good can ever happen again. The height of wisdom is to doomsday and be cynical about everything. But indeed, something new can happen in the Middle East. It is happening. There will be a lot of forgetfulness about current attitudes just as there now has been about the Soviet's collapse. That too was "a stupid view."
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'As Alexander von Humbolt... put it, "At first people say he is a mad--he is a fool. The second,they say he hasn't discovered it, but somebody else. And the third position is: we knew it all along." That's the story of all new
processes of the mind, gentlemen. And that's your 5th commandment. That's why doubt is such a painful process. First, you are not listened to. Second, you are plagiarized--somebody else says he has done it. And the third is: well we knew it all about, why this fuss about the 5th commandment?

We find this now in our textbooks, anyway.' Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Circulation of Thought
9-2

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When Reagan began to announce to the world that "Communism would be cast unto the dust bin of history as a bizzare chapter," and that we would transcend and overcome it, he was dismissed as a dangerous irresponsible idiot. And when he stood before the Berlin wall and challenged Mr. Gorbachov to "come
and tear this wall down," he was declared a mad man. When he declared the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire," he was told that civilized men don't talk that way. He seemingly alone, in all the world believed in the vulnerability of the Soviet system. Conservative and liberal alike believed this view stupid. Even Solzhenitzen did not believe in the soft underbelly that Reagan
was so sure of, and liberals on a regular basis lionized the Soviet system as "proof that a command economy could work as well as ours." (I believe that was Lester Thurlow). But now of course, "we all knew all along," in reference to the collase of the bungling inefficient Soviet system, which at
that time Reagan alone believed was not an invulnerable threat to the US. Reagan in fact alone, believed that it was a "mirage".

The same is true of the revitalization of our economy. When Reagan took office, universal confusion reigned as to what to do with the economy. It was regularly touted that we were at the end, and further development was a
no longer possible. As we were told the other day."Crisis, as defined by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy
in The Origin of Speech, is a period when nobody knows what to believe."
That's right. And that confusion was complete in Jimmy Carter's tenure. But Reagan did know what to believe, and he taught the rest of us, and the US economy was resurrected in dramatic fashion. But now we hear that it was
"obviously inevitable anyway with the computer revolution and all." And now, everybody, including President Clinton when speaking to foreign powers, touts the necessity of tax cuts (which Reagan was told would collapse the economy) and he understands these obvious things that we have all always understood.

As the whole of the New Testament indicates, people can live right through a miracle and be completely blind to it. "You may hear and hear but you will
never understand; you will look and look but never see." The reverberations of the resurrection have continued now for the last 2000 years, and new worlds continue to be created by revolutionaries. But usually people totally unable to see what stands before them.

R B

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