Skip to comments."TERRORISTS IN IRAQ ARE COUNTING ON AMERICAN **IMPATIENCE**" -- Good Read
Posted on 12/01/2003 1:53:44 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo
The Nexus of Culture and Foreign Policy
By Herbert London
In policy disputes culture however ambiguously defined trumps most other characteristics including money, enthusiasm, even courage. By culture Im referring to the habits of mind that are cultivated by the institutions in a given society.
If one relies on a Tocquevillian interpretation of national character, the U.S. he observed was a nation that encouraged liberty and individualism, but it also fostered associations and communal ties. More recently, David Putman argued that Americans have been so seduced by television viewing they are accustomed to watching alone and bowling alone. The venerated historian David Potter maintained that affluence permitted the expression of liberty. Obviously America means different things to different people. One condition however, is increasingly apparent in the national profile: impatience. This is a cultural trait borne of affluence and enhanced by freedom. The ability to move quickly from place to place and the exchange of ideas from one side of the globe to the other in real time have given Americans the sense that if it isnt happening instantly, it isnt happening at all.
There simply is not time for reflection. Americans are on the move literally and figuratively. Channel surfing is a national sport; a television producer must capture an audience in the first ten seconds. A newspaper story must grab the reader in the first paragraph.
If you deliver information on a computer, impatience is what you cater to. But even hackers grow impatient if broadband and speedy DSL arent available. Computer users demand speed; the faster, the better. Yet there is a downside to impatience. Americans may have lost staying power. Although President Bush made it clear after 9/11 that the war on terrorism would take years, after several months the American people are starting to stir.
The relatively rapid success in the Iraq war led inexorably to a belief in a relatively rapid peaceful withdrawal. Democratic presidential candidates have engaged in a continual drumbeat for the departure of American troops. And, as one might guess, the American people are jumping to the beat.
Since the economy is growing at a rate faster than most analysts predicted, Iraq is the only issue Democratic hopefuls have left. They also realize that implicit appeals to impatience may pay off. Clearly the presidents popularity is waning and most of this decline is related to his handling of events in Iraq. If one were to consider conditions dispassionately, what is most needed at the moment is patience, an awareness that staying the course is necessary. Terrorists in Iraq are counting on American impatience. They assume that casualties and bombing will weaken American resolve. They assume as well that political considerations militate against sustained commitment.
In fact, there is now a test of wills. President Bush contends U.S. forces will not be forced to leave Iraq. Conversely, several Democratic candidates have called for immediate withdrawal and others have come close to suggesting this as well.
Should impatience prevail, the consequences would be disastrous for American interests. The terrorists would be emboldened; the U.S. would be seen as a paper tiger: - a claim often used by the terrorists. Clearly the advocates for withdrawal are playing with fire. But do they realize a condition the president overlooks? Perhaps Americans cannot stay the course. Perhaps the culture of affluence has produced an impatience for anything but immediate success.
I would hope that these suppositions are wrong, but I wonder. Already the vision of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon has faded from the national memory. I hear students asking why we have detained suspected terrorists in Guantanano so long. The New York Times, a bell weather of liberal opinion, editorializes about the need for Iraqi withdrawal. There appears to be a nexus between impatience and the demands on America foreign policy. With luck, the U.S. may be able to withdraw and seamlessly transfer authority to a stable Iraqi government. After all, one should hope for the best.
Realism, however, dictates consideration of another scenario in which cultural imperatives insist on premature departure. I earnestly hope I am wrong; yet there is a nagging suspicion that a nation accustomed to instant coffee, quick acting drugs, immediate gratification may not be ready for a long drawn out war. Patience is a virtue, but impatience may now be an overarching national characteristic.
Herbert London is president of the Hudson Institute and John M. Olin professor of humanities of the New York University, publisher of American Outlook and author of "Decade of Denial," recently published by Lexington Books. He's reachable through www.benadorassociates.com.
The enemy seems to know us pretty well. They may have some slick advisors in US academia, who knows?
But do "WE" truly know "US"?
Reads like a Stalinist screed railing against affluence and urging ever more sacrifice towards an ever closer victory.
Some of the most impatient Americans I have come across haven't a trace of affluence. Visited a Democrat-laden trailer park recently? Experienced the atmosphere of 'patience' and 'concentrated, strategic thinking'?
More fundamental, however, is the fact that the U.N. is essentially hostile to American interests and values. It would be unprecedented in human history for a nation to cede control over its foreign policy, voluntarily, to a hostile group of foreign nations.
For statistical proof of how antagonistic the United Nations is to our interests, see this article titled "U.N. General Assembly Voting Habits" by Fred Gedrich of the Freedom Alliance. Gedrich uses as raw material the State Department report on U.N. voting practices which Congress requires the Department to produce; here are the figures for 2002:
"187 UN General Assembly members, out of 90 votes cast, voted against U.S. positions by a 69 percent to 31 percent margin on issues such as terrorism, arms control, human rights and the Middle East.
"The 114 members of the Non-aligned Movement voted against U.S. supported positions 78 percent of the time. This group includes all the worlds dictatorships and terrorist states. It considers Cubas Castro, Libyas Gadhafi and Syrias Assad heroes.
"The 22 members of the League of Arab States voted against U.S. supported positions 83 percent of the time.
"The 56 members of the Islamic Conference voted against U.S. supported positions 79 percent of the time. "The 53 members of the African Union voted against U.S. supported positions 80 percent of the time.
"And what about votes cast by the United States so-called European Union friends? These 15 weak-kneed allies collectively voted against the United States more than 50 percent of the time."
Are there any bright spots in the State Department report? One, at least: Israel voted with the U.S. 93% of the time.
As the Democrats try to find grounds to criticize President Bush with admitting that what they really want is to abandon the war on terror altogether, they will likely focus on "greater cooperation with the U.N." as a campaign mantra. Putting aside that President Bush has, if anything, invested too much time and energy in trying to secure the cooperation of the U.N., the Democrats should be confronted with the reality that the U.N. is, as Gedrich describes it, a "morally bankrupt and corrupt institution because it serves as a safe haven and mouthpiece for some of the worlds most sinister forces."
Why on God's green earth should we allow a hostile organization to dictate our foreign policy?
Stage II is where he will inform you that you are not a conservative.
I would quite agree.
The topic of discussion here, though, is an external, critical observation of national characteristics, or cultural traits, such as 'impatience' and how they might resonate in the general populace, and serve as an achilles heel, much to the delight of savage enemies in the field not to mention opportunistic Democrats and liberal, whiny, defeatist media at home.
I can see you cannot see it.
PS, you are eloquent. Did you speak for them at some time --- and then not get paid for it?
Respectfully, I just don't understand your mindset. Since the Brits burnt Washington D.C. down to the ground during the War of 1812, our basic strategy in defending America has been to never fight a war on American soil. That is what the Monroe Doctrine was all about. Given that this strategy has produced undeniable benefits for the country for almost 200 years, why would you want to change our basic war strategy by playing defense rather than offense? Why would you want to fight the war with militant Islam here rather than in the Middle East where the militants are located?
In other words, 'Impatience' is largely rooted in 'short-term thinking'.
Short-term/mindset and long-term thinking/mindset each have their positives.
Short-term thinking/mindset is what probably makes Americans the best perhaps on the Earth when it comes to 911 (the telephone code) type emergency responses.
But it is the general deficiency in long-term thinking that causes many us to be the first companies to pull out of a foreign market if we don't immediately eek a profit, or to cut and run after getting worn down over months or years of fighting without clear cut results.
The seeds of impatience, again, short-term thinking and expectations, is what the current, popular US country song is all about. It points up I believe precisely to that which the article alludes.
"Have You Forgotten?" by Darryl Worley
We are between the complacency stage and apathy stage in the fall of our Western Civilization. As long as we continue to get our nightly meds, we will continue to unloose our grip on our vigilance.
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