July 13, 2007

For us or agin us...

Orrin Judd quoted a few paragraphs by Camille Paglia...

[I] don't share your admiration of President Bush's post-9/11 speech about terrorism. His warning to the world -- "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" -- may please the ear with its syntactical symmetries, but it reveals a shockingly simplistic reading of geopolitics and indeed of life itself.

Camille dear, it was simplistic for a reason. And the reason wasn't "syntactical symmetries." If you can't even see that, you can't criticize intelligently. A big part of the strategy and tactics of the terrorists is to blur the distinctions between combatants. Both on a small scale, by mingling with non-combatants (a war crime, by the way, not that any of you lefties care) and on the scale of nations. Many nations allow terrorists to operate on their territory while pretending to be friendly with us. Bush is saying that this is no longer acceptable. Do you agree, or disagree?

...Since when did any nation -- even America, which I love -- become the dictatorial arbiter of morality?

It is not a question of morality, it's politics. But let's say that it is a moral claim. ANY moral issue will divide people into for-and-against. That's just a fact. If I say it is always morally wrong to drink alcohol, and you say it's OK in moderation, you are against me. And it is my duty to speak as an arbiter.

...On what authority did President Bush, imperfectly advised by incompetent or mendacious underlings, divide the human race into those with us or against us?

He didn't divide the world, he was just pointing out a divide that already existed, and which many people hoped would continue to be ignored or fudged. (That's why people want to frame terrorism as a law enforcement issue...to avoid hard choices.) Frankly, it should have been done many decades ago. We are in a war because we allowed terrorism to grow over a long period, because we didn't want to make tough choices. We accepted guys like Arafat talking peace in English and "Death to the Jews" in Arabic...We didn't want to call him on it, and the result was...the situation we are in.

...Who are we to demand or enforce such exclusivity and privilege?

It's a WAR! That's just what happens in wars. 9/11 changed a shadow-war into an open war, and war forces decisions whether or not Bush makes a speech. At the beginning of our Civil War a number of states tried to say they were neutral. Yeah, sure, how long did that last? "Who are we?" We are the strongest and the best of nations. We are, by default, the world's police. We are, by default, the only nation that can exercise global leadership. We are, by default, almost the only altruistic and moral nation.

Yes, yes, I know we have many human failings. That doesn't change the fact that the US has a large moral component to its foreign policy. And that non-Anglosphere nations fall woefully short in that regard, as we have seen with our erstwhile European "allies." It is reasonable, considering our position, to make some demands during a crisis. Moral demands, if you want to call them that.

...Why should our own self-interest take priority over that of all others?

Why not? That's what self-interest means! Seriously, to paraphrase the famous mis-quote of Alfred Sloan, what's good for America is good for the world. We are the champions of global law-and-order, freedom, democracy, free trade....All good things for us AND just what the poor and oppressed of the planet also need. The most important foreign aid program on the planet is the US Navy, because she keeps the sea-lanes open, so the trade that the world depends on continues to flow. It's in our self-interest AND the world's interest to fight for a peaceful and orderly planet safe from the threat of terrorism. Or perhaps you think that's NOT in the bests interests of the Earth? If so, what is? What are you FOR?

...This is hubris, the excessive pride that both the Hebrew Bible and Greek tragedy warned against.

No Camille, it's not hubris. It would be if we were literally dividing the world into for-and-against. But if you bother to look at what's actually happening, you will see that we are continuing to allow the situation to be fudged in many instances. We don't force Pakistan (or France) to be completely with us or against us. It would not be practical to do so. But this is now a concession on our part from a clearly announced position.

* Update: In a larger sense, I reject, with the utmost scorn and contempt, and sheer hatred, the moral relativism, (not you personally, but your belief) that says "Who are we to say what's right or wrong." Moral laws are objective facts, graven into the fabric of the Universe since the beginning.

It's like saying, "Who are we to say what the speed of light should be?" Phooey. I say it's 186,000 miles per second, and that lady, you are either for us or against us!

Posted by John Weidner at July 13, 2007 9:18 AM
Weblog by John Weidner