December 14, 2008

The future belongs to those who will fight for it...

I found this piece from The Australian, Obama May Have To Keep Neo-con Ideals, very revealing. For the obvious irony of course, but more for the underlying dilemma of the left--which won't go away because a lefty is in the White House... (I point the problem out in paragraph three.)

Ian Buruma writes:

WITH George W. Bush's presidency about to end, what will happen to the neo-conservatives? Rarely in the history of US politics has a small number of bookish intellectuals had so much influence on foreign policy as the neo-cons had under Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney, neither of whom is noted for his deep intellectual interests. [They are both of them deeper thinkers than the press wants us to know. But more importantly, the job of a leader is NOT to be a clever intellectual, but to have the wisdom to chose the right policies. A wise leader uses intellectuals such as the neo-cons, none of whom should ever be president.]

Most presidents hope to attach some special meaning to their time in office. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, gave neo-con intellectuals the chance to lend their brand of revolutionary idealism to the Bush-Cheney enterprise. [Note how the author insunuates motives here--but he will not present any evidence for the sneer. The neo-cons had been saying for decades that our policies were failing, and we were heading for big trouble. Being right when everyone else was wrong tends to EARN one the job of cleaning up the mess.]

Writing for journals such as The Weekly Standard and using the pulpits of think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, neo-cons offered an intellectual boost to the invasion of Iraq. The logic of the US mission to spread freedom across the globe - grounded, it was argued, in American history since the founding fathers - demanded nothing less. [I'll fill you in on what's really going on. You can skip the rest of my stuff, but understand this: This "neo-con" notion of overthrowing tyrants and spreading freedom is linked in our history with certain leaders...FDR, Truman, JFK. It is the quintessential LIBERAL project. In fact it is fair to call the neo-cons Liberals, in the older sense of those who think that things and countries can be fixed.

They, and Bush, are the true liberals of our time. That's why they are hated by the Left. Because most leftists are no longer liberals, but are still wearing liberal garments as a disguise. Bush and the Iraq Campaign have shone a cruel spotlight on leftists, and revealed them as the nihilists they have become. You will never understand current politics until you grasp that liberals aren't liberal anymore. Baruma is tiptoeing around the problem in this piece.]

Objections from European and Asian allies were brushed away as old-fashioned, unimaginative, cowardly reactions to the dawn of a new age of worldwide democracy, [Which they were.] enforced by unassailable US military power. [The neo-cons never said any such thing. Rather, that democracy was something that would grow and take root if our power cleared it some space. Since this has happened many times in the post-WWII world, it's not an unreasonable proposal.]

The neo-cons will not be missed by many. [I'd bet money you are wrong.] They made their last stand in the presidential election campaign of Republican John McCain, whose foreign policy advisers included some prominent members of the fraternity. (Most were men.) None, so far, seems to have found much favour in the ranks of Barack Obama's consultants.  [Wait'll he actually decides to accomplish something. He'll need to find some thinkers who still believe that things can be fixed. Nihilists and "realists" won't cut it.]

Such clout as the neo-cons wielded under Bush is unusual in the political culture of the US, which is noted for its scepticism towards intellectual experiments. [And yet with a straight face Leftists will say that Bush is "anti-intellectual."]

A certain degree of philistinism in politics is not a bad thing. Intellectuals, usually powerless themselves outside the rarefied preserves of think tanks and universities, are sometimes too easily attracted to powerful leaders in the hope that such leaders may carry out their ideas.

But wise leaders are necessarily pragmatic because messy reality demands compromise and accommodation. Only zealots want ideas to be pushed to their logical extremes. The combination of powerful leaders with an authoritarian bent and intellectual idealists often results in bad policies. [Baruma's so close, but can't make the leap. The Iraq Campaign was extremely pragmatic. You can read my reasons here.]

This is what happened when Bush and Cheney took up the ideas promoted by the neo-cons. Both previously had been pragmatic men. Bush first ran for office as a cautious conservative, prepared to be moderate at home and humble abroad. Cheney was better known as a ruthless bureaucratic operator than a man of bold ideas. But he was obsessed with the notion of expanding the executive powers of the president. [He was, wisely, concerned to reverse the post-Watergate erosion of Presidential power. It was not an expansion. And each of our major wars has required the amplification of executive power. Bush has done nothing compared to Lincoln or Wilson or FDR.]

The combustible mix of autocratic ambition and misguided idealism took hold soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Even if, by some miracle, Iraq were to evolve into a stable, harmonious, liberal democratic state, the price already paid in (mostly Iraqi) blood and (mostly American) treasure is already too high to justify the kind of revolutionary military intervention promoted by the neo-cons. [ Nonsense. The price has been TRIFLING compared to our other experiments in freeing countries and helping them become democratic. About one tenth of the price for South Korea for instance---does the author think that was a mistake? Would he care to compare North and South Korea, and then apply the same standard to Truman that he does to Bush?]

Another casualty of neo-conservative hubris may be the idea of spreading democracy. The word, when voiced by US government spokesmen, has become tainted by neo-imperialist connotations. [The connotations exist only in the heads of lefty nihilists. To the oppressed peoples of the earth the dream is as sweet as ever. As witness the ENVY being expressed in Third World countries because here in America a corrupt governor has been arrested!]

Similar things have happened before, of course. The idealism of Japanese intellectuals in the 1930s and early '40s was partly responsible for Japan's catastrophic war to liberate Asia from Western imperialism. [What pernicious nonsense. This is the usual "moral equivalence" malarky of people desperate to deny that there are high ideals that impose a DUTY on them. ]

The ideal of pan-Asian solidarity in a common struggle for independence was not a bad one; it was commendable. [That "ideal" was never Japanese policy. Our ideals ARE policy.] But the idea that it could be enforced by the imperial Japanese army running amok through China and Southeast Asia was disastrous. [There is no comparison. We have not "run amok;" we have liberated just two countries, and helped them form elected constitutional governments. ]

Socialism, too, was a brave and necessary corrective to the social inequalities that emerged from laissez-faire capitalism. Watered down by the compromises without which liberal democracies cannot thrive, socialism did a great deal of good in western Europe. [Europe is DYING, you fool. Dying of socialism before our eyes. Every European country is in demographic collapse. Europe is bankrupt and decadent, no longer leading in ANY realm except bureaucratic regulation. Not in religion, nor ideas, nor movements, nor economic growth, nor innovation, nor the arts. No one goes to Europe for the exciting new trends. (Except to Vatican City.) Socialism has failed, always and everywhere.] But attempts to implement socialist or communist ideals through force ended in oppression and mass murder.

This is why many central and eastern Europeans view even social democracy with suspicion. Even as Obama is worshipped in western Europe, many Poles, Czechs and Hungarians think he is some kind of socialist. [They KNOW! They know the beast.]

The neo-cons, despite their name, were not really conservatives at all. They were radical opponents of the pragmatic approach to foreign strongmen espoused by people who called themselves realists. Even though the arch-realist Henry Kissinger endorsed the war in Iraq, his brand of realpolitik was the primary target of neo-con intellectuals. [To oppose "realism" does not mean you are not a conservative.]

They believed that aggressive promotion of democracy abroad was not only moral, and in the US tradition, but in the national interest as well. [They didn't just assert it, they made a case. Which leftists have never countered in any credible way. Instead they just pretend the theory has already been invalidated.]

There is a core of truth in this assertion. Liberals, too, can agree that Islamist terrorism, for instance, is linked to the lack of democracy in the Middle East. Realism, in the sense of balancing power by appeasing dictators, has its limits.

Democracy must be encouraged, wherever possible, by the most powerful democracy on earth. But revolutionary wars are not the most effective way to do this. [I've bad news for you pal. It's always going to be a bloody and messy business. Therefore it will only be done by those who still have beliefs they are willing to fight for. Therefore you Eloi are out of the game. You are useless and obsolete. The future belongs to those who will fight for it.]

What is needed is to find a less belligerent, more liberal way to promote democracy, stressing international co-operation instead of blunt military force. [It'll never happen. It's the same with nations as with individuals. Those who are willing to fight are real, all others are just fading shadows. You might notice that the "shadows"�people or nations� have at least two things in common. Lack of Christian or Jewish faith.......and socialism.]

Obama is unlikely to repeat the mistakes of the neo-cons. [He will have to folllow the template Bush has set for the WoT. But he will probably not do it as well.] But, to succeed, he will have to save some of their ideals from the ruins of their disastrous policies. [He is going to piggyback on Bush's successes, and try to claim them as his own.]

Posted by John Weidner at December 14, 2008 6:28 PM
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