THE HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE
For a more
polite version of this idea, one merely has to go to National
Review Online, where everyone from John Derbyshire to
Paul Johnson is making the case against Islam as an inherently
"imperialistic" and even inhuman faith. For the more high-toned,
there is Stephen
Schwartz's pseudo-scholarly piece in the [UK] Spectator
suggesting that the Wahabi form of Islam is a danger on a
par with Communism, fascism, and, presumably, the coming heat-death
of the universe. Andrew Sullivan, the human echo chamber whose
take on the conventional wisdom is always a few steps ahead
of the crowd, has lately been railing against the "anti-Semitism"
of the Arab Islamists conveniently forgetting that Arabs,
too, are Semites.
this form of anti-Semitism is not only okay, it is
eminently fashionable: that is the whole point of Peggy
Noonan's paranoid hallucinations, Ann Coulter's invective
aimed at "swarthy males," and Mona "Milosevic" Charen's proposed
ethnic cleansing program: to legitimize a de facto pogrom
to be carried out against Arab Semites, and not only in America.
THE MIDDLE MAN
in on the anger of the American people the smoke from the
World Trade Center is, after all, still rising an alliance
of New Republic liberals and Weekly Standard
neoconservatives hopes to focus it on hatred of all things
Arabic or, at least, to channel it into a good long war
of conquest. The warriors of the "Anglosphere" now sing the
praises of Kipling,
the balladeer of British imperialism, and recall what they
regard as the eternal verities of colonialism. Let us take
up the white
man's burden, they cry, if that's what it takes to "win"
the war on terrorism. Canadian writer Mark
Steyn makes the case for a new Anglo-American imperialism.
Citing the old Rooseveltian adage that "he may be a sonofabitch,
but he's our sonofabitch," Steyn wants to eliminate the middle
man because "the sonofabitch system is ultimately useless
to the West." He complains that...
"The US spends
billions subsidizing regimes which have a vested interest
in encouraging anti-Americanism as a substitute for more locally
focused grievances. As a result, the West gets blamed for
far more in a part of the world it never colonised than it
does in those regions it directly administered for centuries."
LEFT & RIGHT
of going through all that hassle, Steyn avers, and subsidizing
the "decadent" and "corrupt" Saudi monarchy, why not just
take over Saudi Arabia, and, while we're at it, most of the
rest of the Arab world? After all, they have "our" oil, and
never mind "where would we be without them?"
where would the House of Saud be without us? Who needs
with the sonofabitch system, " writes Steyn, "colonialism
is progressive and enlightened. If, as the bonehead peaceniks
parrot, poverty breeds instability, then what's the best way
to tackle poverty? The rule of law, a market economy, emancipation
of women all the things you're never going to get under
most present Middle East regimes."
independence and cultural autonomy never enter into Steyn's
equation, for this would contradict the central mythos of
the Anglosphere: that the world's resources (especially oil!)
cannot be left in the hands of a bunch of uncivilized heathens.
Steyn agrees with the boneheads that the elimination of Third
World poverty puts a valid lien on the wealth of the West
which just goes to show that he is equally boneheaded,
if not quite a peacenik.
us not to "stick Zahir Shah back on his throne to preside
over a ramshackle coalition of mutually hostile commies, theocrats
and gangsters." Far better that we should enthrone
Forget about self-rule, what Afghanistan and the entire
region needs is "not just food parcels, but British courts
and Canadian police and Indian civil servants and American
town clerks and Australian newspapers." Once Rupert Murdoch
owns most of the newspapers in the Middle East, can civilization
be far behind?
ON TO IRAQ?
In an example
of some very strenuous wishful thinking, Steyn smoothly assures
us that "the viability of America's non-imperial strategy
was demolished on 11 September." It is either Empire, or more
terrorism. Here is where the Islamo-fascism trope raised by
Christopher Hitchens, the War Party's house leftist, comes
in handy: Osama bin Laden, we are told, is the veritable reincarnation
of Hitler, and the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center
and the looming threat of bio-war seem to confirm this dark
prognosis. Combined with the Islam-is-aggression argument,
the neo-imperialist theme is perfectly suited to the war aims
of the neoconservatives. "On to Iraq!" they screech, inventing
lurid spy stories that "prove" Saddam Hussein is behind the
wave of anthrax scares.
But it isn't
going to be that easy for them. Fortunately, the neocons have
a number of problems, not the least of which is President
Bush himself, who, at least for the moment, seems intent on
narrowing his war aims, not expanding them. Colin Powell
went to Pakistan and broadly hinted that the "moderate" wing
of the Taliban might be persuaded to join a postwar Afghan
government of national unity. It was only after this failed
that they gave the Northern Alliance at least a yellow light
in their battle to take Kabul.
great problem is that the neocons' imprecations against a
peacenik-Arab "fifth column" are fatally undermined by their
slavishly pro-Israel stance.
Sharon likened Israel to Czechoslovakia in the wake of Munich,
practically accusing the President of the United States of
collaborating with terrorism, what Pat Buchanan rightly calls
Israel's "amen corner" in the US sided with Tel Aviv over
Washington. Colin Powell's achievement creating a broad
anti-terrorist consensus in the Arab world, and securing the
invaluable assistance of Pakistan in rooting out Al Qaeda
was disparaged, and people who routinely dismiss all dissent
with an imperious "don't you know there's a war on?" were
suddenly hailing Sharon's wisdom and "bravery."
tanks plow into twelve-year-old Palestinian children, the
Amen Corner loudly denounces the US for calling for an immediate
halt to the Israeli blitzkrieg: this, we are told, is "selling
out Israel." So much for "united we stand."
A THIRD PROBLEM:
major problem faced by the neocons, who want the Arabs and
Muslims out of the picture completely, is geography. There
is simply no way to physically get at Osama bin Laden and
Al Qaeda without securing the close cooperation of the Pakistanis,
and this comes at a price. Islamabad's view of the Afghan
war is that it ought to be "short and sharp," as General Musharraf,
the reigning strongman, put it. Pakistan's official government
website, paknews.com, headlines a story informing us that
military operation to last till April" that's April
of next year, and not, as Steyn and his fellow Knights of
the American Raj would have it, fifty or a hundred years from
while self-righteously inveighing against leftist opponents
of the war as "fifth columnists" and "traitors," are simultaneously
undermining the Bush administration and its war policy
by flatly contradicting the official US line on an important
point. This is a war against Islam, they insist, even
a holy war, one waged by the proponents of modernity and the
Enlightenment against the medieval remnants of Arab reaction.
interesting that, among the 40 or so signers of Bill
Kristol's manifesto demanding the military occupation
of virtually the entire Middle East was one Francis Fukuyama,
the author of a now famous thesis proclaiming "the end
of history." History, says Fukuyama, has ended in the
"inevitable" victory of Western values and "global liberal
democracy," which is "the final form of human government."
In the case of the Middle East, however, it seems there's
no harm in hurrying the "end of history" along a bit at
LIFE IN WARTIME
of the Middle East seems like such a bloated, self-deluded
fantasy, that surely no one takes it seriously. Normally no
one would except for Bill Kristol and a few dozen dedicated
neocons but these are not normal times, as the neocons
and their liberal friends gleefully remind us. In wartime,
all sorts of scamsters and con artists come out of the closet,
or out from under their rocks, and try to get away with as
much as they can manage. This war, albeit a "new war," is
war profiteers are running up against two big barriers: the
first is Colin Powell, whose calm deliberation is in stark
contrast to the sputtering hysterics of his critics in the
punditocracy. Powell's efforts to build a broad coalition
in the service of quite narrow American war aims has aroused
a veritable lynch mob among our laptop bombardiers, who have
their own ideas on how the war ought to be fought. Like former
secretary of state Madeleine Albright who once asked Powell,
"What is the point of having the most biggest most power military
machine on earth if you never use it?" they have no understanding
of the reality of war, or of the purely military issues at
of course, and this is clearly what has guided him. Indeed,
the two generals, Powell and Musharraf, who met recently,
seem to have come to a purely military understanding of the
task at hand: to isolate and eliminate Bin Laden and Al Qaeda
as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is the exact
opposite of the war aims of the neoconservatives, who want
to isolate the United States from the entire Arab world and
seem far more focused on eliminating Israel's enemies Iraq,
Syria, Libya, and even Iran than going after Osama bin
CONSERVATISM AND FOREIGN POLICY
big obstacle may be President Bush and some of his closest
advisors. Marvin Olasky,
the ex-leftist theoretician
behind the creation of "compassionate conservatism," gives
voice in a
recent newspaper column to the George Bush we remember
from the presidential election debate.
remember the George W. Bush who, charmingly, promised us a
"humble" foreign policy? I do, and there's a chance that this
aspect of our chief executive may not be altogether eclipsed
by Bush the Warrior President. "Military might won't transform
Muslim culture," lectures Olasky, speaking directly to the
neocons and their liberal allies, and it is foolish to even
try. His arguments against using 9/11 as a means to catapult
us into a wider war are interesting, and ingenious, and they
are sure to have a great effect on many of the President's
born again Christian supporters in the Republican Party.
of the Bush administration's so far modest war aims get
Osama, root out Al Qaeda, build an international consensus
against terrorism Olasky turns the anti-Islamist propaganda
of the Wider-War Party on its head and says culture and religion
do matter which is precisely why those American
town clerks, and British cops, and Murdoch-style yellow journalists
will never take root in the Middle East.
terms, the Trinitarian Christians of the West are more amenable
to such ideas as the constitutional separation of powers,
while "the heavy unifying emphasis of Islam" portends a different
social and political order. The Christian idea of original
sin, he points out, means that power must be dispersed and
decentralized, whereas Islam has no such built-in brake on
state power. Mankind is fallen, and cannot be trusted with
the godlike powers of the State. The idea that, as Steyn and
the neocons contend, the US can remake Afghanistan, and much
of the Middle East, in the image of Everytown, USA or even
a halfway decent approximation is a dangerous illusion.
Only in an era of absolute madness, such as the one inaugurated
on 9/11, would anyone dare to conjure it.
ONLY GOD CAN
to point out that Olasky makes clear his view of Islam shouldn't
be taken to mean that most Muslims aren't decent people. Certainly
such clear strictures against stealing and lying will make
for "better neighbors" than "moral anarchists." It's just
that Islamic law, imposed by a Muslim majority, is not exactly
a libertarian paradise. Yet it would be an example of hubris,
and perhaps even a sin the sin of pride to imagine that
we, in the West, could alter the cultural implications of
Muslim theology. Furthermore, it would be ridiculous to even
try. "As the brewing company now named after him has reminded
us in excellent ads," writes Olasky,
"Samuel Adams two centuries ago prayed, 'May Heaven
grant that the principles of liberty and virtue, truth and
justice, pervade the whole earth.' Adams was right to send
his appeal to heaven. Military power can oust one government
and establish another, but only God can change hearts so that
biblical principles of liberty and virtue are embraced."
ideas had an enormous influence on the way Bush was perceived
during the last presidential election, and his "compassionate
conservatism" concept continues to exert pull on the domestic
policies of this administration. We can only hope and pray
that he has an equal effect on the President's conduct of
this war. God help us if the neocons win out, and it is the
US and Israel versus the Arab world: for that would truly
be a world war which could only end in Armageddon.
NOW A WORD FROM ROBINSON JEFFERS
Marvin Olasky in the camp of those who oppose the world war
being pushed on us is such good news that the boneheaded peacenik
Left is naturally bound to miss it. After all, how could a
right-wing Christian, who was the theorist behind the Bush
2000 presidential campaign, possibly be antiwar? A conservative
critique of imperialism is beyond their cramped imaginations
and limited knowledge.
have given away a book, Prophets on the Right: Conservative
Critics of Globalism, by Ronald Radosh, to Antiwar.com
contributors, and I have also written a
book on the same subject. But the Left is not interested
in history, or books, for that matter, except those that reinforce
their already-accepted dogmas. They are far more concerned
with demonizing President Bush, and all conservatives, than
with genuinely bringing hostilities to a swift and morally
satisfactory conclusion. The dogmatists of the Left who dominate
the peace movement would just as soon the war spread throughout
the entire Middle East than align themselves with such a "reactionary."
It's disheartening to contemplate, really, and when I think
of it a particularly dark poem by Robinson
Jeffers comes to mind:
world wars, and they breed a third. Now guard the beaches,
watch the north, trust not the dawns, Probe every cloud.
power. Fortress America may yet for a long time stand, between
the east and the west, like Byzantium.
As for me. I agree with you. It is a foolish business to
see the future and screech at it.
should watch and not speak. And patriotism has run the world
through so many blood-tales: and we always fall in."
and not speak: I hope I never give in to such a temptation.
For we must speak, while we can, to whom we can, in whatever
language we can while there is yet time.
of $50 or more will get you a copy of Ronald Radosh's out-of-print
classic study of Old Right conservatives, Prophets on the
Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism.
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