Saturday, July 16, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson on the War on Terror on National Review Online

Victor Davis Hanson on the War on Terror on National Review Online:

"In a word, this version of events brings spiritual calm for millions of troubled though affluent and blessed Westerners. There are three sacraments to their postmodern thinking, besides the primordial fear that so often leads to appeasement.

Our first hindrance is moral equivalence. For the hard Left there is no absolute right and wrong since amorality is defined arbitrarily and only by those in power.

Taking back Fallujah from beheaders and terrorists is no different from bombing the London subway since civilians may die in either case. The deliberate rather than accidental targeting of noncombatants makes little difference, especially since the underdog in Fallujah is not to be judged by the same standard as the overdogs in London and New York. A half-dozen roughed up prisoners in Guantanamo are the same as the Nazi death camps or the Gulag.

Our second shackle is utopian pacifism — ‘war never solved anything’ and ‘violence only begets violence.’ Thus it makes no sense to resort to violence, since reason and conflict resolution can convince even a bin Laden to come to the table. That most evil has ended tragically and most good has resumed through armed struggle — whether in Germany, Japan, and Italy or Panama, Belgrade, and Kabul — is irrelevant. Apparently on some past day, sophisticated Westerners, in their infinite wisdom and morality, transcended age-old human nature, and as a reward were given a pass from the smelly, dirty old world of the past six millennia.

The third restraint is multiculturalism, or the idea that all social practices are of equal merit. Who are we to generalize that the regimes and fundamentalist sects of the Middle East result in economic backwardness, intolerance of religious and ethnic minorities, gender apartheid, racism, homophobia, and patriarchy? Being different from the West is never being worse.

These tenets in various forms are not merely found in the womb of the universities, but filter down into our popular culture, grade schools, and national political discourse — and make it hard to fight a war against stealthy enemies who proclaim constant and shifting grievances. If at times these doctrines are proven bankrupt by the evidence it matters little, because such beliefs are near religious in nature — a secular creed that will brook no empirical challenge.

These articles of faith apparently fill a deep psychological need for millions of Westerners, guilty over their privilege, free to do anything without constraints or repercussions, and convinced that their own culture has made them spectacularly rich and leisured only at the expense of others.

So it is not true to say that Western civilization is at war against Dark Age Islamism. Properly speaking, only about half of the West is involved, the shrinking segment that still sees human nature as unchanging and history as therefore replete with a rich heritage of tragic lessons.

This is nothing new.

The spectacular inroads of the Ottomans in the16th century to the gates of Vienna and the shores of the Adriatic were not explainable according to Istanbul’s vibrant economy, impressive universities, or widespread scientific dynamism and literacy, or even a technologically superior and richly equipped military. Instead, a beleaguered Europe was trisected by squabbling Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians — as a wealthy northwest, with Atlantic seaports, ignored the besieged Mediterranean and Balkans and turned its attention to getting rich in the New World.

So too we are divided over two antithetical views of the evolving West — Europe at odds with America, red and blue states in intellectual and spiritual divergence, the tragic view resisting the creeping therapeutic mindset.

These interior splits largely explain why creepy killers from the Dark Ages, parasitic on the West from their weapons to communications, are still plaguing us four years after their initial surprise attack.
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