Saturday, November 30, 2002
Much, then, of what we read about the evil of American imperialism is written by post-heroic and bored elites, intellectuals, and coffeehouse hacks, whose freedom and security are a given, but whose rarified tastes are apparently unshared and endangered. In contrast, the poorer want freedom and material things first — and cynicism, skepticism, irony, and nihilism second. So we should not listen to what a few say, but rather look at what many do.Speaking of which, I've gotten a great response form the two articles I've posted. I will post the next installment focusing on Islamist hate tomorrow.
Thursday, November 28, 2002
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Interesting thesis. I have also been thinking recently about the "bored populace".Alfred, like most of my theories, this one also requires you to reject conventional wisdom. Here is a limited treatment of my theory on the cause of violent and hateful movements.
My theory is that violent movements are initiated and led by people who perceive that they are socially immobile because a great wrong has been done to them or they deserve far better than their current station.
The immobility occurs both at the top and bottom. In other words, a perception that their upward mobility is blocked by an outside force. At the bottom, their survival is not threatened so they have time and energy to dwell on what’s keeping them from achieving their goals of self - actualization. As a side note, it’s perception that matters, so one’s relative standing is more important than objective understanding.
The crucial ingredient is the sense of betrayal. This is very common – we all think that we deserve better than we get, but in some cases the delusion reaches massive proportions. The greater your delusion, the greater disappointment when you realize that the dream is not coming true. If you have time (not trying to survive or to succeed) these are the kinds of thoughts that can become obsessive and very frustrating. It becomes an irresistible force squeezed into a clamp of social immobility. Something has to give – like the friction of tectonic plates this frustration sometimes erupts with great violence.
Here is how it applies to the three great violent movements:
Socialism was the product, primarily, of artisans and professionals whose further ascent was blocked by social norms (i.e. aristocracy – think British class system) and who did not fear poverty (immobility). They had plenty of time and education and began to believe that they deserved better (the grievance). They railed against the system that held them down. Socialism was the only violent movement to rationalize their own desire to destroy into a need to “help” others.
Let’s explore fascism in the case of the Nazis. Everyone always blames unemployment, but at its peak of 10% Germany was never as bad as the US (25%). Yet we never got genocidal. As a nation they were never really poor – you can’t industrially mobilize a nation for a world war if you are really poor. However, they believed that they couldn’t “move up” in the national sense (and, yes, every nation wants to be more powerful) because of the restrictive treaties. The real problem with Germany was hurt pride – they believed that they were the best nation in the world and there was no way they should have lost. It was fertile ground for both communists and fascists. In the end, the Nazi’s won this pageantry of hate.
Finally, we come to the Islamists. Isn’t it curious that most of the terrorists are Saudi – a nation that has the most generous welfare state in the world (everyone gets a job), but advancement is limited to the royalty. Combine that with a great sense of purpose – they are the keepers of the Two Mosques and the great oil fields – many Saudis believe that these were divinely ordained. They must be destined to be a great nation and would be if it wasn’t for those pesky Americans and Jews. Can you imagine how impotent it makes them feel to see those infidels riding high? There can be only one solution.
The top and the bottom restrictions are crucial. People who are concerned about their survival don’t have time to plot revolution – they are too busy looking for food. By the same token, in socially open societies people are too busy striving to the top to think about destroying the hand that feeds them. Only those who perceive (perception, not objectivity, is the key measure here) themselves as being stuck are candidates for violence. All they need is the great sense that somehow or someone is keeping them from their true potential.
Another example are the Europeans. Generous welfare programs combined with the lack of opportunity for upward mobility create the proper atmosphere. (Actually, the atmosphere has been there for a while – this is where socialism and fascism got their start.) The third ingredient is a massive feeling of disappointment. The Europeans are after all former rulers of the world, cultural superiors, household philosophers and vaunted art critics – all blocked from achieving their due station because of the upstart Americans. And, if you are a Leftist – you’ve been disappointed twice – it was America who squashed the Soviet Union. How can this tragedy continue?
Of course this resentment has been common on the Continent for a while – the French resent the English, the Germans resent the French and the Russians resent everybody. But now, like a magnet all this frustration is focused in one direction – ours.
So, that’s the theory – violence on a massive scale is not caused by desperation but by frustration on a massive scale. When entire societies feel stuck and immobile and betrayed they look for a scapegoat. Today most of those eyes are on us.
As you read this please understand that what you are reading is a very, very limited treatment of my theory. I have cut many corners. To do it justice, I need much more time than I have on hand. In my daydreams, I think that I can write a book about this. Perhaps I can serialize the various aspects (e.g. – why has America been relatively immune to these movements?) that I have otherwise glossed over. But for now I will have to leave at this. Comments please….
Monday, November 25, 2002
Somewhat surprising is that so little was made at the Forum of the two great hobbyhorses of European anti-Americanism: the United States's failure to ratify the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gases, and the continuing recourse of certain states to the death penalty. The silence on these issues is an indication that they were only proxies in the first place, useful to a priori America-haters until they could find a more solid basis for their anti-Americanism.It follows that it is unlikely that we could have placated these same protestors many years ago when they were complaining about Kyoto or the death penalty or even the specter of genetically modified foods. In the end, their hate of America is all that matters and the specific reason why is not as important. The hate comes first, followed by a reason.
In most cases of mass hate, the source of the hate is independent from the purported scapegoat or ideology. In reality, the hate is internal and is best described as extreme frustration that strikes large populations at the same time. Frustration is internal unease and people find it difficult to find fault with themselves. It is far easier and more satisfying to blame others for your misfortune. The post-industrialist world has seen three major ideologies caused by the frustrations of a bored populace – socialism, fascism and Islamism. In each case a populace that defined itself on the basis of economic class (the middle), nationality or religion found an appropriate external scapegoat. The history of socialism shows that a hate can continue to exist even though the ideology has been shown to be unworkable. As we have seen, the haters merely moved their target from capitalism in general to America specifically. The pressing question today is not socialism or nationalism, but Islamism.
In the course of discussing the ideological history of Islamism, David Price Jones describes how Arabs have seamlessly moved between nationalism, socialism and finally Islamism. As each successive ideology failed to bring an end to the nagging frustration, a new one was adopted to see if its methods would work. The Arabs got new nations in the late 20th century, but the frustration remained. The influence of the Soviet Union brought command economies, but the frustration remained whole. Today, Islamism seeks to redress the anger of the Arabs, but it will fail too. Like the previous ideologies, it fails to confront the frustration inside (inside the head, the home and the nation). Each new ideology just shifts the blame to some other scapegoat.
This instant shifting between supposedly competing hate ideologies is not restricted to the Arab world. The first thing that Hitler did in Germany was to suppress the socialist competition. Likewise for Franco’s Spain. Today’s disgruntled Frenchman can (and does) shift easily between nationalist and communist parties. If you assume that the ideology is the cause of the anger, then such swift shifts should not be possible. On the other hand, if you assume that the hate came before the ideology, then such massive “reconsiderations” are not only normal but are expected.
If you agree with me, then there are tremendous policy ramifications. Most important of which is that giving in to the demands of any mass hate movement will do you no good. Since their real frustration will not be resolved, the exercise will be pointless. Getting nations of their own and command economies did nothing to placate the Arabs – they are more hateful than ever. European Leftists are still marching and demanding and hating, even though their societies are set up exactly like they said they wanted. Only one of the major ideologies, fascism, has been greatly debilitated and that was through the use of force.
Sunday, November 24, 2002
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Monday, November 18, 2002
Sunday, November 17, 2002
Saturday, November 16, 2002
Needless to say, one of the largest delegations in attendance came from France (who would have guessed?). Paris, which is Saddam's largest trading partner, was well represented by 81 French firms.So were the Germans,
A similar welcome awaited the Germans, who were also given priority by Saddam to enter the Iraqi market. According to the government-run Al-Iraq newspaper, this came as a result of "the firm positive stand of Germany in rejecting the launching of a military attack against Iraq by the US." Gerhard Schroeder's anti-American posturing, it seems, is already paying off quite handsomely.And, of course, our friends, the Saudis
Eager to please his new friends, Iraqi Vice President Izzat Ibrahim issued special instructions to provide preferential treatment to Saudi firms bidding for Iraqi contracts. That seems to have done the job, because the 80-member Saudi group succeeded in signing $380 million worth of deals in the five days they spent there.Once we occupy Iraq, all these contracts must be cancelled. Otherwise, we will be telling the "international community" that 1) they can trade with our enemies and 2) trading with a sadistic dictatorship carries no penalties. Neither perception should be encouraged.
Thursday, November 14, 2002
But not one of those arguments will lead to the liberation of a frighteningly Orwellian society based on fear and torture. Not one of them will protect the citizens of the Middle East's democratic nations against future attacks with weapons of mass destruction. Not one of them could lead to a beachhead -- however small -- of democracy in the Arab world. Not one of them will help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian standoff. Not one of them will allow America to take initial steps toward addressing the "root causes" of terror. Not one of them is worthy of the deeply moral traditions of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And not one of them will lead to progress in the Middle East -- yet these objections are apparently all most "progressives" have to offer.So add this to the list of the many other liberal arguments for war. In the end, the anti-war crowd are a bunch of selfish, bored malcontents whose hatred for America overrides whatever sense of decency they have.
"You want to know what I really think of the Europeans?" asked the senior State Department official. "I think they have been wrong on just about every major international issue for the past 20 years."Yep.
UPDATE: Is it Christmas? Another State official telling it like it is about the ICC.
Proponents of a new International Criminal Court see the institution as a way to restrain the United States and second- guess its decision-makers, a senior Bush administration official said Thursday.
More is fundamentally wrong with the Democratic analysis-by-wish-fulfillment. As the New York Times reported last Saturday, Democratic strategists studying the elections are coming to realize that, in closely contested races in key states (South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia and Florida), the immediate conventional wisdom was wrong: What cost the Democrats these races was not the failure to motivate "base" (especially African American) voters, but the failure to win over middle-class, independent-minded, moderate white voters -- the voters who put Bill Clinton into office. Blacks, in fact, turned out in expected numbers -- it was non-left whites who stayed home or voted for Republicans.
George Will talks about the authoritarian strain on the Left. Don't be confused by their faux self-descriptions as liberals. Most Leftists despise the "common" people and beleive that wisdom should come from above. Usage Note -- I make distinction between classic liberalism which I call liberalism and Leftism. Will does not -- he uses Left and liberal interchangeably.
The canonical text of liberalism's disparagement of Americans' competence was John Kenneth Galbraith's 1958 book "The Affluent Society." It argued that the bovine people beyond the faculty club are manipulated by advertising, so businesses produce not the things people want but the wants that businesses find it convenient to supply.This is what Lenin called the "dictatorship of the proletariat." It has enourmous appeal for those who believe that they are smarter that the unwashed masses and that the masses should be forced to obey them.
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
DUBAI (Reuters) - The Arabic-language television station al-Jazeera said on Tuesday that Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden has hailed recent anti-Western attacks in Bali, Kuwait and Yemen, and last month's hostage-taking in Moscow.Two points:
1. The report is unlear if the tape is of OBL. That would be news.
2. The Russians were right all along about the theater attack -- it was al-Queda.
3. Reuters calls OBL a "dissident", just like Sacharov, I suppose.
UPDATE: AP reports that the tape had a voice claiming to be Bin Laden on the tape.
Overall, 57% of those polled said Democrats are not tough enough on terrorism, while 64% said Republicans are. And 54% of Democrats polled said the party needs to moderate its liberal message.I would love to see a poll of why Americans don't trust the Democrats on terrorism.
Monday, November 11, 2002
Indeed, whenever Mr. Geoana's French diplomatic counterparts worry about Romania's enthusiasm for the United States, he said he tells them that "after Romania enjoys several decades of prosperity like France, then we will have the luxury of taking the U.S. for granted."This is a good article despite the poor attempts by the author to liken Eastern Europe's warm feeling for the US to their "devotion" to the Soviet Union. Obviously, the author must be unaware of what happened to disobedient Soviet satellites (see Hungary and Czechoslovakia). I guess journalists are not required to be aware of history.
I think that this is a preview of what will happen in the Muslim world (at least in Iraq and Iran) when they are liberated.
Also, is it too early to think about an American sponsored Easter European Free Trade Agreement? Yes, they are supposed to get integrated into EU in 10 years, but I think that will never happen.
Saturday, November 09, 2002
The dream of 1960s radicals was supposedly that someday the United States might use its vast cultural influence and military power to be on the "right side of history." That meant — instead of Pavlovian opposition to idealistic socialists and occasional Communists in preference for odious figures like Pinochet, Somoza, or Franco — we would try to topple just those regimes and implant democracies in their place. Few then lectured that the Nicaraguans should be left to handle their own dictators or that we had no right to tell the Spanish what to do with Franco. Instead, support for revolutionary movements was voiced and action demanded.
UPDATE: The Conservative Observer comments.
Friday, November 08, 2002
From conversations I have had on this subject in Washington, I would say that the most fascinating and suggestive conclusion is this: After Sept. 11, several conservative policy-makers decided in effect that there were "root causes" behind the murder-attacks. These "root causes" lay in the political slum that the United States has been running in the region, and in the rotten nexus of client-states from Riyadh to Islamabad. Such causes cannot be publicly admitted, nor can they be addressed all at once. But a slum-clearance program is beginning to form in the political mind.
As a result, the left, for the first time since the 1980s, has a shot at taking over the party. The defeat of moderate Democrats in swing states and districts inevitably tilts the congressional party toward ideological hardliners in safe seats. Ted Kennedy and John Conyers would have yanked the party left in 1994, had not the Clinton White House moved in the other direction. But now there is no counterweight. And that is what makes the Democratic Party's current predicament so dangerous. The ideological vacuum atop the post-September 11 Democratic Party will inevitably be filled. And if it is filled by Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Kucinich, the United States will no longer be a 50-50 nation; it will be a 40-60 nation for a generation.More like 30-70. I have a feeling that this is the reason Gephardt retired as Minority Leader. Staying in the leadership position would do nothing for him, but retirement gives him an option. If the new Democratic leadership does well -- he can piggyback his Presidential campaign on it. If it does poorly, as it should under a Leftist command, then he could be the knight in shining armor coming in to rescue the Party in 2004. Given that his ultimate goal is running for President and disastrous performance in the election, this is not a bad set of options.
On that note, Nancy Pelosi, a California Lefty is emerging as a front runner, reports the Washington Post. Mort Kondrake said yesterday that he believes that she has the votes to win easily. BTW, he said that on FNC's Special Report, an excellent political show if you have not yet discovered it.
As I've said before, Democrats should not blame low turnout for their troubles, since it seems like it was pretty good.
Why are people voting Republican? Here is a columnist, which you probably missed if you are outside New York. Andrea Peyser writes "Why This Lifelong Democrat Voted For Republican,"
While Democrats were paying pathetic lip service this election season to long-rejected ideals, vowing to pour buckets of money into familiar sinkholes such as welfare and corrupt public-education systems, Republicans became not exactly cool - but they at least learned to dance.Yep, Ditto.
UPDATE: More on Pelosi. One thing, folks, but Left is not the same as liberal. I tend to think you can't be both at the same time. Yes, I know, usage, blah, blah, blah, but we all have little things that we harp on constantly (our private little battles) and this is one of mine. Left <> liberal.
Also, Harold Ford has now entered the race. That makes things interesting.
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
In the 1990's, nothing made conservatives look sillier than the way they excoriated Bill and Hillary Clinton as traitors and even murderers.Here, here! When I was a Democrat (prior to 9/11 and all the anti-Americanism by the Left), I hated the witch hunt against the Clintons. While they were very slimy, the attacks were dispraportionate to the "crimes." I have not changed my mind even after changing parties. I now wish he was attacked more for his foreign policy and his handling of the economy. Ain't 20/20 hindsight great?
Anyway, I now hate the way the Democrats attack Bush. It's not about any issues, but politics of demonization. Nothing good can come of this. At the end of the day, we are all Americans and we have to live together. Most importantly, we will need to stick together to survive. [cue the patriotic music]
Monday, November 04, 2002
The brief official note that came from Baghdad to the health ministry of a quasi-friendly European nation a few weeks ago was polite in tone, chilling in content. Iraq's health service director wanted to know: Could you provide information and help to treat an anthrax outbreak?The human mind is a wondeful instrument it allows us to block out unpleasant truths until the pain is too great. Hoagland says we are doing just that by ignoring the evidence connecting Saddam and terrorism. I agree -- look how we managed to wilfully ignore al Queda, Nazi Germany or, even, the dangers of the Internet bubble. In all cases we just wanted things to be alright. Unfortunately, things you ignore can still hurt you....
BTW, I think that the incident is a veiled warning to the Europeans. If there was an outbreak of anthrax in the big cities we would know about it and anywhere else, Saddam would not care about their fate. On the other hand, the europeans are very suseptible to such, shall we call it, diplomacy?
* Nearly 200,000 people are "missing" in Iraq, most of them Kurds who vanished during the ethnic cleansing of the 1988 Anfal campaign. Compare that to the 9,000 who were disappeared by the Argentine junta or the 3,000 "desparacidos" of Pinochet's Chile. Or, for that matter, the 10,000 Albanian dead in Kosovo.I'm sure that this list is by no means complete and that we will know the true scope of this tyrannical rule only after we overthrow him. Similarly, the true scale of death from Hitler and Stalin only reached us after their deaths.
Again, I ask -- how can a moral person stand against the liberation of Iraq?
If you want to see a country punching far above its weight class these days, look at France. The French don't have a lot of power, but they certainly know how to make the most of what little they do have. At the Security Council, France wields a veto, thanks to Franklin Roosevelt (and FDR didn't even like the French). That lets France's diplomats go toe-to-toe with the American behemoth, to the cheers of a proud French electorate and a grateful European public. It's no surprise that the Security Council negotiations have been endless or that the French want another round of debate later. If you're France, you want these negotiations to go on forever, and then you want inspections to go on forever. When negotiations and inspections stop and fighting begins, the American global superpower goes back to being a global superpower, and France goes back to being France.So, why should we be happy with Europe’s soft power again?
There is a interesting piece in the Washington Post’s Outlook section on Munich. The author’s thesis is that the Munich analogy is regularly misused today as an example of appeasement in action. In my opinion, the author bolsters the anti-appeasement argument today. The author essentially states that Chambelain had to appease because:
1. At the time he was weaker militarily.
2. He had no allies.
3. Democracies don’t go into battle without provocation (ie it would take more than Czechoslovakia).
All true and uncontroversial. But it only shows that today we are not in the same situation as Chamberlain and we don’t have to appease. We are much stronger militarily, so much so that we don’t need allies. The third part is always true, but given recent history we should be able to make people realize that the price of appeasement in very high.
Saturday, November 02, 2002
In this strange, unattractive historical moment, the extremely strong anti-Saddam Hussein argument isn't getting a fraction of the attention it deserves.Exactly. At this point, the liberal argument should already be made. But aside from Rushdie and Christopher Hitchens (whose arguments are much more consistent) very few voices of liberation are heard from the so-called Liberals. Why is that? In his essay Rushdie gives a few clues about the real politics and agendas of the “liberal” Left. (to avoid confusion, when I use liberal without quotes, I mean the classic ideology, but when I use “liberal”, I mean Leftist – the people who today claim to be “liberal”)
For example he states,
The complicating factors, sadly, are this U.S. administration's preemptive, unilateralist instincts, which have alienated so many of America's natural allies. Unilateralist action by the world's only hyperpower looks like bullying because, well, it is bullying.So let me get this straight – there is enough of a moral cause to go to war, but bullying is strictly off limits? Unfortunately, this is a way for Rushdie to justify the dearth of liberal arguments being made by “liberals.” This is clearly embarrassing – legions of Lefties marching in support of laissez faire for the most illiberal regime today. Rushdie’s bewilderment at the lack of liberal arguments requires him to blame the only other enemy he knows – America. Unlike Hitchens, he has not made the next logical step of questioning whether those who he expects to make the liberal argument are really interested in anything resembling a liberal agenda.
So what are the agendas of America’s “bullied” allies? I guess Rushdie did not read a Washington Post article written earlier in the week. Discussing the wrangling at the UN regarding the Iraq liberation.
"The whole debate is about two issues," said an envoy whose country is one of the five permanent Security Council members. "One is Iraq. The other is U.S. power in the world. The second issue is the bigger part of the debate."The envoy is giving himself too much credit. US power is the only issue. It is the only issue for France and Germany, who are trying to maximize their political power and to protect their lucrative Iraqi oil contracts. It is the only issue for the Arab states who fear (correctly) that a liberating America would threaten their totalitarian regimes (either politically or economically). No, there is no liberalism emanating out of Europe (save the UK) or the Arab world – only flowery statements of liberal-sounding platitudes to mask their Realpolitk agenda.
The same can be said of the anti-war protestors (see the Hitches article). They are organized and promoted by the same anti-capitalist (read anti-American) crowd who supported Stalin, Milosovec and favor the brutal regime in North Korea (another backgrounder). The only locus of their causes is that they all seek to weaken American economic, civic and international power. The anti-war (or, more accurately, pro-Saddam) crowd has shown itself capable of allying itself with any dictator or criminal to further their agenda. No “liberal” who follows Stalin’s “break a few eggs to make an omelet” dictum would have any problems with the Iraqi regime.
These so-called “liberals” have no desire to propagate a liberal argument in favor of liberating Iraq. Such action would derail their real goals and agendas. Instead they throw up arguments in favor of the status quo that no liberal would tolerate. For example:
Why not now – since when does liberalism have an expirations date?
America armed Saddam in the past!
So, let’s do the right thing now and remove him! Are sinners not allowed to repent?
What about stability in the Middle East?
Since when do liberals care about stability among dictators?
In fact, the agenda of the Left is not liberal, but immoral. There is no other way to describe the opposition to removing a regime that tortures children. No Realpolitik, oil contract or utopian illusion can justify that. So Salman Rushdie is right – there is a liberal argument for liberating Iraq. But the people who are making it are on the Right.
"How many Frenchmen does it take to hold Paris?" goes the old joke. "Nobody knows." A little nasty, perhaps, but it suggests the deeper issue underlying France's continued opposition (as of this writing) to a resolution threatening force if Iraq obstructs U.N. weapons inspectors: Why is France on the Security Council at all? Paris got its permanent membership (and thus its Security Council veto) as a reward for having helped defeat Nazi Germany. But while the French suffered under Nazism, it was the Americans, Russians, and British who defeated it. (Winston Churchill's envoy to France famously called Charles de Gaulle the heaviest cross he had to bear during World War II.) Another rationale holds that France owes its seat to its status as an independent nuclear power. But India now boasts that distinction as well, and--with its massive population, growing economy, and third-world democracy--it would be a far more compelling choice. In truth, France's fantasies of grandeur--fantasies that are decades, if not centuries, out of date--would be laughable, except that they are taken seriously in Turtle Bay. And so the Bush administration must endlessly negotiate with a country whose Iraq policy is motivated by petro-dollars and anti-American resentment, particularly the anti-American (and anti-Western) resentment of its Muslim immigrant masses. Why not stop the charade and let France veto the Iraq resolution? The United States and its allies could, on their own, eliminate the unconventional weapons of that most unconventional tyrant, Saddam Hussein. And, as a side benefit, the United Nations would suffer a humiliation so profound that it might force some long-overdue reconsideration of the Security Council's anachronistic composition. For international organizations to be relevant, privilege must follow power, and for them to be admirable, privilege must follow decency. Nothing would more dramatically further both goals than dethroning France.Or, we should just leave the UN altogether.
His Majesty's Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,Read more about it here.
Friday, November 01, 2002
(a) Citing Hussein as being in "material breach" of the resolutions he signed to end the Gulf War. Material breach is recognized as a casus belli.