February 21, 2003

Friday Reading

Another great VDH article: One Enemy, One War, One Outcome

Just as Italian fascists, Japanese militarists, and German Nazis saw commonalities in their efforts to spread right-wing nationalist rule, so Islamic radicals seek to end Western global influence in similar ways either through the establishment of Islamic republics in the Gulf and other oil-producing countries or loose alliances of convenience with tyrannies like those in Syria, Libya, or Iraq, which can be cajoled, blackmailed, or openly joined with in ad hoc efforts to destroy a hated West.

Fascist states and radical Islamists, in fact, exhibit affinities that go well beyond sporadic and murky ties between such governments and fundamentalist terrorist groups. For one, in a post-Soviet Union world, they all seek weapons of mass destruction to be used as intercontinental blackmail as a way of weakening Western resolve and curtailing an American presence abroad.

For another, their common ideological enemy is liberal democracy specifically its global promotion of freedom, individualism, capitalism, gender equity, religious diversity, and secularism that undermines both Islamic fundamentalism in the cultural sense, and politically makes it more difficult for tyrants to rule over complacent and ignorant populations. Third, our various enemies share an eerie modus operandi as well: Al Qaeda terrorists blew themselves up killing Americans; and so do terrorists on the West Bank and so does Saddam Hussein send bounties to the families of such killers.

And Jonah Goldberg: Cowardice vs. Appeasement

This highlights one of the interesting things about appeasement. For something that is allegedly so bad, it is almost always popular. If public opinion had been against it, the Munich Pact wouldn't have been signed. Which brings me to the last deservedly infamous appeaser: Bill Clinton. During the 1990s Clinton played footsy with terrorists and rogue states. Indeed, he even renamed rogue states, calling them "states of concern." His idea of effective national security was to sweep problems under the rug. In 1996, we declined to take custody of bin Laden because we didn't know what law we could accuse him of breaking. After the African-embassy bombings, rather than unleash the righteous fury of the arsenal of democracy, Clinton delivered a "proportionate response" attacking two of bin Laden's assets, because bin Laden attacked two of ours doing anything more would be unfair. He paid North Korea to stop producing one kind of nuclear weapon while they started another secret program almost immediately. The Clintonites still defend this as a success as if getting a man to promise to stop making swords matters much if he immediately switches to battle-axes.

Bill Clinton did this because it was popular. Or, to be more accurate, he played these games because to do otherwise might jeopardize his popularity. Clinton is famously vexed by the fact that he had no opportunity to become a "great president." But the fact is, when you're terrified of rocking the boat, it's difficult to achieve greatness. In fact, when you sweep all the nation's problems under the rug so the next guy has to deal with them, you stack the deck for the next guy to become a great president if for no other reason than that you've let problems fester into crises and hence greatness will be thrust upon him.

Posted by Ithildin at February 21, 2003 6:06 PM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE