Stephen W. Browne | Rants and Raves

Sep/07

18

Right versus Left, versus Right versus Right

Note: I recently got to cover the press conference with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, and wrote about it for Human Events here: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=22371

The post-Petraeus report period is a great example of how hard it is to have a serious discussion about something as important as a war, when one or both sides have made up their minds beforehand and won’t be budged.

It’s also a pretty good example of how hard it is to have a serious discussion with a bunch of screaming loonies in pink tutus and tiaras in the room.

The differences between the Hard Left and the Right are exciting and attractive to a news media that thrives on sensationalism.

One the one side you have people who see America as a corrupt country, fatally flawed from it’s origins.

On the other, people who see America as a great country with serious flaws – not the least of which is the presence of privileged elites who despise the country that made them some of the most fortunate individuals in the history of mankind by any objective standard.

What’s getting lost in all the excitement, is the debate between the supporters and opponents of the attempted pacification of Iraq on the conservative and libertarian Right.

I refuse to call these positions “pro-war” and “anti-war.” Nobody but a Nietchean lunatic is “for” war. The question is, is war at this time and place the worst alternative?

And here we see where the two sides stand, for reasons both principled and patriotic.

One side argues that Iraq has become the primary battleground of the West against jihadism.

From this point of view, even if it is conceded that invading and trying to rebuild Iraq along Western lines was a mistake, the argument is irrelevant. Rather like arguing that it would have been better to have invaded Europe at Calais, rather than Normandy in the Second World War. One the di is cast, we don’t get do-overs.

The opposing view on the Right can be summarized, that we are not contributing to our future security by spending our treasure and the lives of our finest young men, attempting (in the words of an English friend) “to civilize people who cannot be civilized.”

Unlike the America-hating Left, this view comes from love of this country and the civilization of which it is the finest exemplar.

And it’s not that I necessarily think they are wrong – it’s that I am terribly afraid that they might be right. If so, God help us all. Then this war will go on with no end in sight.

I wonder how many of them have considered that this must follow from their position, if indeed they are right?

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4 comments

  • Galt-In-Da-Box · September 19, 2007 at 6:33 am

    Perhaps this is the reason the Founding Fathers were wise enough to include provisions in the Constitution to forbid the government from forming ungodly, treasonous international cadres and alliances, and pledging our wealth and resources to causes non-American.
    Something else lost in the debate is the meaning of the term “war”.
    It used to mean “two or more nations engaged in a struggle to the death”, whereas eversince the end of WW2, it’s come to mean (on a practical level anyway) “a social program for the old-money, filthy-rich Papist munitions manufacturers”. To this day most conservatives and libertarians know this elephant is in the center of the room, but don’t see or mention it.
    “Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and try to cover them up, at least a little bit.” – Edward R. Murrow.
    Case in point: It’s not right vs. left, it’s The State vs. YOU, and what rationalizations it concocts to rob you blind.

  • James A. Donald · September 19, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    You wrote
    “And it’s not that I necessarily think they are wrong – it’s that I am terribly afraid that they might be right. If so, God help us all. Then this war will go on with no end in sight.”

    Yes, this war must go on forever, which is why we need to fight it with tactics that involve a lower casualty level for us – and a higher casualty level for them. Sending our heroes to walk the streets of Baghdad is guaranteed to get us the most unfavorable possible casualty ratio.

  • tbh1248 · September 20, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    My question is, “Can what is going on in Iraq even be called, from an American perspective, a war”.

    If a nation of 300 million is only losing 60-90 people a month in Iraq, when it loses 3-4,000/month on its highways, and it thinks it is “losing the war”, what happens when it gets in a real war?

    Between 1861 & 1865, this (combined) country, of approximately 30,000,000, lost 600,000 of its sons. TWO PERCENT!!

    Grant & Lee would have considered 60-90 a month absolutely insignificant.

    We need a new word or phrase for what is going on in Iraq.

    “Police Action”?

  • trollsmyth · September 25, 2007 at 3:18 am

    I don’t think it’s quite so bleak as you make out. The arguments I’m seeing are not “they cannot be civilized” so much as, “if they can be civilized, that must come first before we attempt to foist democracy upon them.” Trying to create a Western-style democracy is like putting lipstick on a pig, and like putting the cart before the horse. It wasn’t a lack of democracy, after all, that convinced doctors to set themselves on fire in a Scottish airport.

    The more cogent disciples of this view that I’ve found are over at http://jihadwatch.org/. Their thesis is that the root of the problem lies in traditional Islam. So long as the terrorists and theocrats can point to the Koran, hadith, and other traditions to support their violence without much contradiction, any Muslim can, without warning, be converted to embrace suicidal violence. In their view, our blood and treasure is better spent supporting those who wish to counter or reject the violence in Islam. Only when there is a strong, faith-based refutation of violence within the faith itself can you hope to find Western-style democracy flourishing in the Middle East. They believe that fighting and bleeding for democracies that enshrine sharia law in their constitutions is like putting brand new windows and a fancy façade on a house with bad foundation problems.

    If you think about it, this fits perfectly with the libertarian philosophy. If government can’t be trusted to regulate matters of simple commerce, and most libertarians think it can’t, how can you trust it to instill the peace-loving, hedonistic values that have made Western civilization the glory of history among a people who still consider usury and cartooning to be sins?

    – Brian

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