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Our World-Historical Gamble
Tech Central Station ^ | March 11, 2003 | Lee Harris

Posted on 03/11/2003 8:31:41 PM PST by beckett

1: THE PROBLEM

Of the many words written for and against the coming war with Iraq, none has been more perceptive than Paul Johnson's observation in his essay "Leviathan to the Rescue" that such a war "has no precedent in history" and that "in terms of presidential power and national sovereignty, Mr. Bush is walking into unknown territory. By comparison, the Gulf War of the 1990's was a straightforward, conventional case of unprovoked aggression, like Germany's invasion of Belgium in 1914 and Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor."

The implications of this remark - like the implications of the war with Iraq - are profound. The war with Iraq will constitute one of those momentous turning points of history in which one nation under the guidance of a strong-willed, self-confident leader undertakes to alter the fundamental state of the world. It is, to use the language of Hegel, an event that is world-historical in its significance and scope. And it will be world-historical, no matter what the outcome may be.

Such world-historical events, according to Hegel, are inherently sui generis - they break the mold and shatter tradition.

(Excerpt) Read more at techcentralstation.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: bushdoctrineunfold; hegel; iraq; kant; leeharris; liberalism; nationstates; newnwo; usa; wmds
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Long think piece with a novel point of view from Lee Harris, an author with solid competence in philosophy who has already written a few oft-cited articles post 911, including Al-Qaeda's Fantasy Ideology.

Well worth reading.

1 posted on 03/11/2003 8:31:41 PM PST by beckett
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To: beckett
Yes, he wrote Fantasy Ideology. That's one of the best articles out there. I'm halfway through this one, and I like it a lot.
2 posted on 03/11/2003 8:33:40 PM PST by xm177e2 (Stalinists, Maoists, Ba'athists, Pacifists: Why are they always on the same side?)
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

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To: beckett; Howlin
Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Anyone who doesn't have time to read it now should save it for future reference. I'm sending the URL to my e-mail list.
5 posted on 03/11/2003 9:08:48 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: beckett
Fantastic.
6 posted on 03/11/2003 9:33:40 PM PST by Arkinsaw
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To: jimmyBEEgood
YEH,YEH,YEH, Lots of talk !!!

And even some of that there thinkin' stuff.
7 posted on 03/11/2003 9:34:41 PM PST by Arkinsaw
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To: beckett
Lee Harris definitely has his head on straight. I hope Powell reads this piece and takes it to heart.
8 posted on 03/11/2003 9:45:24 PM PST by Mackey (Shock and Awe: technically advanced Whoopass on a large scale)
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To: beckett
Bump for later.
11 posted on 03/11/2003 10:04:46 PM PST by Valin (Age and deceit beat youth and skill)
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To: beckett
About 40 years ago I was a freshly washed college student who happened to find himself in the Senate gallery when a balding man with a gravellely voice began to drone on and on about "new myths and old realities." I didn't get much out of it, my excuse is the acoustics were bad but the truth is the implications of his speech went over my head. I never agreed with his speech, even when I understood it but it got a lot of press and attention in acedemia.

Now this author calls for a new paradigm but I don't understand what it is nor what his solutions are. Yet I know that he is performing a valuable service by cleaning out the underbrush which is confusing our thinking and fueling the left which steadfastly refuses to abandon its outmoded and dangerous shibboleths.

I see that we are in a foot race with these maniacs to annihiliate them before they blow up Pittsburg. I see that they are playing armeggedon while the UN and most of the western world plays tea party. And I see that after Iraq we must take on and permanently neutralize the nuclear regimes of Iran and Korea. I believe that George Bush sees all this much clearer than I do.

But I do not see a way clear. After Afganistan and Irak the US could find itself out of gas and out of favor, unable to take on Korea and Irak without allies and disintigrating at home. May God help us if Bush is replaced by a democrat before he can get us to the Promised Land.
12 posted on 03/11/2003 10:14:01 PM PST by nathanbedford
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To: nutmeg; firebrand; RaceBannon; MadIvan; Yehuda; Kaafi; Clemenza; PARodrig; rdb3; mhking; Dutchy; ...
cerebral ping
13 posted on 03/11/2003 10:45:54 PM PST by Cacique (Censored by Admin Moderator)
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To: nathanbedford
The very pushing of the agenda we are currently pursuing will feed the next ten years in US policy, whether it be democrat or republican, this war is for survival as much as world war II was. Rational thought is the at the heart of true peace, when people are not held repsonsible for their actions all is lost, on any level. Individuals, nations and all other groups of like minded people must be held completely responsible for their actions in order for peace to exist. this is the folly of the peaceniks, appeasement doesn't ever work. Hard realty rules on every level.
14 posted on 03/11/2003 10:51:40 PM PST by veryconernedamerican
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To: nathanbedford
"Now this author calls for a new paradigm but I don't understand what it is nor what his solutions are...."

This author's article is seminal as it addresses the fallacy that has accompanied every foreign policy mistake we have made since the end of the Cold War. This fallacy involves the concept of "rational actors" that is presumed in the educations of almost every Western diplomat working today. Almost all policy leaders and diplomats were trained by studying concepts and theorists who came of age in the 19th century.

In any negotiation or business transaction we engage in everyday life we always base on our actions on the presumption that the person we are negotiating with values his own interests and life. In the Western world whether it is individuals or nations the presumption of self-interest is taken for granted.

With the phenomena of radical Islam, however, we are confronted with the phenomena of individuals and groups who value a self-destructive fantasy more than their lives and interests. The presumption self-intrest is no longer valid when dealing with many parts of the Islamic world. This realization is tremendously disorienting for a typical Westerner.

The consequence of this realization is that states mired in this ideology cannot be treated as if they are rational actors seeking their self-interest. It requires a different strategy analogous to how an adult treats children.

In order to act in concert with this new paradigm it will be necessary to reject one of the most pernicious fallacies of the Modern Age: cultural relativism. All cultures are not equal and an unashamed sense of the historic superiority of Western civilization will have be adopted by our leaders.
15 posted on 03/11/2003 11:01:13 PM PST by ggekko
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THe author proposes:


"a double standard imposed by the U.S. on the rest of the world, whereby the U.S. can unilaterally decide to act, if need be, to override and even to cancel the existence of any state regime that proposes to develop WMD, especially in those cases where the state regime in question has demonstrated its dangerous lack of a sense of the realistic.
What the critics of this policy fail to see is the simple and obvious fact that if any social order is to achieve stability there must be, at the heart of it, a double standard governing the use of violence and force.
There must be one agent who is permitted to use force against other agents who are not permitted to use force.
The implementation of the fashionable myth that all violence is equally immoral and reprehensible would inevitably result, in a typical dialectical reversal, in the Hobbesian state of universal war.
Every civilized order, precisely in so far as it is a civilized order, relies on such a double standard.
The only alternative to this is the frank and candid acceptance of anarchy, the state in which all recourse to violence is equally legitimate. But what Mr. Butler and others fail to realize is that anarchy with clubs and sticks is a much preferable to anarchy with nuclear weapons.
_________________________________


-- He then goes on to stress that the USA can ~only~ exercise this double standard in regard to the use of weapons of mass destrution. -- And, -- that in order to do so, we would have to actually curtail efforts in our conventional 'peacekeeping' roles.

-- That the USA would ever adopt a role with such a limit on its power is very naive, imo.

16 posted on 03/11/2003 11:09:00 PM PST by tpaine
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To: beckett
Bump for a long read later.
17 posted on 03/11/2003 11:24:30 PM PST by Just another Joe (FReeping can be addictive and helpful to your mental health)
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To: beckett
But perhaps our greatest challenge will be to our own thinking. We must take a hard look at every idea we hold dear and ask, Does this idea even fit any more? And does it any longer make sense to speak of conservatives in a world in which a catastrophic change of some kind looms, or liberals when it is the core liberal values of all of us - even the most conservative - that are being threatened?

This is not going to go over very well here at FR, even for those who otherwise agree with this guy.

18 posted on 03/11/2003 11:46:22 PM PST by jackbob
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To: ggekko
I agree that he has identified the underbrush that will not work but I am not clear about what he thinks will work.
19 posted on 03/12/2003 5:25:26 AM PST by nathanbedford
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To: beckett
Bookmarked for later, extended reflection.

Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit The Palace Of Reason:
http://palaceofreason.com

20 posted on 03/12/2003 5:28:30 AM PST by fporretto (Curmudgeon Emeritus, Palace of Reason)
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To: veryconernedamerican
I think you and I get it and I think that Bush gets it but I don't think my neighbors in Germany get it or their neighbors in France get it. In fact, it is pretty clear that our own democrats do not get it. None of these seem willing to accept an asymetrical power model. These Europeans actually think Bush is the greater danger to peace than, for example, Saddam.

They show absolutely no disposition to junk the "old Myths" for "new realities." While they show good cooperation against terrorism because there they can operate under the old paradigm, they cannot cooperate on Irak, Iran or Korea because that requires a new model.
21 posted on 03/12/2003 5:41:50 AM PST by nathanbedford
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To: beckett
The author makes some good points in describing the Islamists as delusional. He does better with philosophy, than history, IMHO. The nation state as a global entity is a relatively new idea. As Winston Churchill's grandson pointed out the other day in the WSJ - "my grandfather drew the lines on the map that created Iraq." What has existed in Europe since the (approximately) 16-17th century (not including Germany which unified in the 19th century) did not exist in Africa and the Middle East until the post-colonial era. Part of the problems in those areas is that the lines were drawn on the map, without regard to the religious and tribal makeup of the populations within the newly created "states." In this respect we are returning to a form of Hobbesian anarchy which has been with us for a very long time. We have has our vacation from history, with our "progressive international" institutions, now we are back to nature. Red in tooth and claw.
22 posted on 03/12/2003 5:56:58 AM PST by RKV
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To: beckett
Bump for the morning crowd.
23 posted on 03/12/2003 6:16:43 AM PST by Carolina
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To: SJackson; dennisw; knighthawk
Astonishing analysis by Lee Harris. Absolutely the best of 2003

Please, ping your lists. Thank you.

The complete text (besides the TechCentralStation itself) is in this locked, duplicate thread: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/862627/posts

24 posted on 03/12/2003 7:21:36 AM PST by Tolik
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Yehuda; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; ...
If you'd like to be on or off this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.
25 posted on 03/12/2003 7:55:13 AM PST by SJackson
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To: nathanbedford
I think Mr. Harris' somehwat polite terminology is leading people astray. When he says "neo-sovereignty" I think he would like to say "neo-imperialism".

In the 19th century imperialism got a bad name because it was generally used for the economic advantage of the colonizer and they were some shamefully exploitave episodes during that era as well. On the other hand, however, 19th century imperialists did understand that part of their mission aside from trade was to bring the benefits of cvilization and good government to parts of the world that had known neither.

After WWII, we pressured Britain and France to give up their colonies in Africa. In light of the post-WWII history in Africa and other former colonies can anyone honestly contend that these unstable governments have been a blessing to their people? According to Harris' criteria these nations had not earned their sovereignty through the struggle for national self-determination; their nationhood had been handed to them by their former colonial masters. The process of arbitrarily bestowing nationhood on a group of people because of guilt has not worked very well.

A neo-imperialist doctrine for the 21st century recognizes that democratic structures are not synonymous with good government. Societies lacking functioning civil institutions tend to evolve toward illiberal psuedo-democracies ("one man, one vote, one time"). In countries such as these a governmental structure that insures fundamental human rights but it is not wholly democratic would be preferable.

If a group of people is not yet ready to responsibly exersize the democratic franchise then obviously the possession of WMDs is a prescription for disaster. A neo-imperialist theory of international relations would redirect developing nations away from from acquiring WMDs for petty aggrandizement toward legitimate development projects.

In light of 20th century history, the British system of gradually developing sovereignty culminating in a new nation receiving commonwealth status seems enlightened. An updated version of the British system would mandate that the doctrine of national self-dtermination be abandoned. Given the problems that this doctrine has produced in being applied to the developing world we could scarely do any worse.
26 posted on 03/12/2003 10:23:06 AM PST by ggekko
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To: beckett
But all of this is lost on the man who simply pays another man to build his home for him. He is free to imagine his dream house, and to indulge in every kind of fantasy. The proper nature of the material need not concern him - gravity doesn't interest him. He makes the plans out of his head and expects them to be fulfilled at his whim.

"The Lesson of Marx," the author calls this. Have Freepers adopted Marx as a teacher? Then they are in for a surprise, since if we believe this teacher capitalism is another fantasy likewise doomed to failure. Perhaps we lost the Cold War, after all.

Our author does not tell us why this dream house description applies only to rogue states, and not to the pie-in-the-sky capitalists who brought us the dot-com boom-bust and the Enron economy. And what about the fantastic neo-Wilsonian imaginings of our own president?

At the heart of the dialectically emergent concept of neo-sovereignty is precisely the double standard that Mr. Butler denounced - a double standard imposed by the U.S. on the rest of the world, whereby the U.S. can unilaterally decide to act, if need be, to override and even to cancel the existence of any state regime that proposes to develop WMD, especially in those cases where the state regime in question has demonstrated its dangerous lack of a sense of the realistic.

At the heart of American governance is the principle that a just government derives from the consent of the governed--What touches all, must be approved by all. If America decides to declare itself the world governor described here, we are betraying our foundational principles. I suspect this author would argue that such principles are out of date, "concepts from another age." All the more reason to distrust his foreign policy recommendations.

We must not let our noble ideals betray us into betraying our very ideals... We must take a hard look at every idea we hold dear and ask, Does this idea even fit any more?

How easily we abandon self-evident truths for the pragmatic.

And does it any longer make sense to speak of conservatives in a world in which a catastrophic change of some kind looms, or liberals when it is the core liberal values of all of us - even the most conservative - that are being threatened?

I'd rather stick to my principles and die than submit myself into the Leviathan State and live.

For neither in war nor yet at law ought any man to use every way of escaping death. For often in battle there is no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death; and in other dangers there are other ways of escaping death, if a man is willing to say and do anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding wickedness; for that runs faster than death.
-Socrates, in Plato's Apology

But to call the United States' response a bid for empire is simply silly.

So what do you call a government that arrogates to itself the right to control the military of every other nation, as this very author advocates?

27 posted on 03/12/2003 12:33:27 PM PST by Dumb_Ox
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To: dennisw; TopQuark; Alouette; veronica; weikel; EU=4th Reich; BrooklynGOP; Jimmyclyde; Buggman; ...
Middle East list

If people want on or off this list, please let me know.

28 posted on 03/12/2003 12:47:11 PM PST by knighthawk
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To: xm177e2
I read "Fantasy Ideology" when it came out and learned a great deal from it. This new article promises to be equally thought-provoking.

But what I'd like to know is, who is Lee Harris? Did he serve in government at some point in his career? And what is TechCentralStation?
29 posted on 03/12/2003 1:19:14 PM PST by tictoc
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To: Dumb_Ox
Have Freepers adopted Marx as a teacher?

Harris is a scholar of Marx, as I learned when I read some of his other work, but not in the way you think. He is a highly skilled debunker of Marx and persona non grata in socialist circles. His point is simple and clear: There is no free lunch. Free rider systems cannot work. To suggest that the dot.com busts and Enron are analogous to the failure of free rider systems like communism and oil rich Arab tribal societies is deeply problematic, to say the least.

I suspect this author would argue that such principles are out of date, "concepts from another age."

You're right. That's why I said in my opening post that he's presenting us with a novel point of view. It will be no easy task for an American conservative, with an abiding commitment to American foundational, constitutional principles, to wrap his or her mind around the world-historical role for the country Harris lays out in the piece. But his central point should give pause to every serious person. Are we targeted? Can the weapons aimed at us cause mass destruction? How do we deal with the threat? How much of your disagreement with Harris grows out of a longing for the Fortress America that sadly disappeared in a miles long cloud of smoke and ash on a crystal clear September day?

So what do you call a government that arrogates to itself the right to control the military of every other nation, as this very author advocates?

I don't believe he is speaking as an advocate. I don't read the article as a work of advocacy. Harris wants us to think about these ideas, and, as he says in his final sentence, do so with some trepidation.

30 posted on 03/12/2003 8:11:39 PM PST by beckett
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To: section9
Check out this very interesting article.
31 posted on 03/13/2003 6:25:26 PM PST by Starrgaizr
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To: beckett
Compelling and profound! Captures the reasoned rationale behind the administrations' policy.

I read it via Best of the Web Today. Going for the other article referenced in the same section now.

Great post beckett!
32 posted on 03/13/2003 11:39:51 PM PST by bellevuesbest
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To: beckett
Your post is excellent, as is this article. I urge all to read this! And to send it to everyone who you think is smart enough to GET it.

It took me two nights to read it and then I had to read lot of it out loud to comprehend it. I am not smart enough to grasp this type of writing without effort. It does not help that we all have terrible colds here and I am drunk on NyQuil.

I am glad I preserved as it is an excellent! This is a thoughtfully laid out case for hitting Saddam hard and fast! We have allowed the Arabs to live in a fantasy world and it is going to kill us all. It really is imperative that we change the way we think about the world. I think that CPowell is a classic liberal, as outlined in this article,and he is in a kabuki dance with Bush,who is NOT! Hence the current situation with the UN and France.

We are really witnessing a world-historical event. It will change everything forever, regardless of the outcome. And we, as citizens of the world, must change the way we look at this. It is also an outline of why liberalism just does not work in the long run. It eats itself!

33 posted on 03/14/2003 9:31:19 PM PST by AlwaysLurking
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To: beckett
The surrealpolitik that characterizes the fantasy world of radical Islam is also seen in the mindset of the so-called intellectual liberals who love to hate everything American. Both groups despise technology but don't hesitate to use it for their ends. They both hate Christianity, individual liberty and capitalism. And like the rogue states run by self-indulgent dictators who gladly take the money given them by the US, liberals live free, comfortable lives made possible by our free enterprise system, while simultaneously working for its demise.

The analogy to a spoiled brat who lives off his parents' generosity while badmouthing them at every turn is apt. Fortunately, most surly, freeloading kids do not end up killing their parents, while leftists and radical Islamists will surely destroy us, unless we wake up.

34 posted on 03/15/2003 11:32:10 AM PST by giotto
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To: ggekko; beckett
Long and thoughtful article, but it still doesn't fly. Awfully roundabout way of coming to a conclusion that strikes me as being perilously close to "might makes right" ;)

With the phenomena of radical Islam, however, we are confronted with the phenomena of individuals and groups who value a self-destructive fantasy more than their lives and interests. The presumption self-intrest is no longer valid when dealing with many parts of the Islamic world. This realization is tremendously disorienting for a typical Westerner

I disagree. The problem with the critique of realpolitik in this article is that it takes a much more narrow definition of "rational actors" than is really necessary. "Rational actors" are basically defined as "people like us", or more specifically, people who will ultimately value self-preservation above all else, just as we do.

Which is, to be sure, pretty much what the classic notion of realpolitik was based on - you could bluster people into submission, because you knew that, faced with the choice of accepting defeat or dying, they would accept defeat and opt for self-preservation. But that's no reason to think that the concepts can't be expanded to encompass what we're facing now.

And what we're confronted with now is a culture that has arrived at precisely the opposite set of values than what we're used to - given the choice between submission (i.e., failing to advance their own interests) and death, they would rather die. But this is a value choice, and no more or less rational than the opting for self-preservation in the face of certain defeat that we would choose. Admittedly, it's very much an all-or-nothing proposition for them - either they get what they want, or die trying - but it's a perfectly rational calculus at work here, albeit not the sort of calculus we are used to dealing with.

So we're still confronted with rational actors, but actors for whom submission is not an option. And it goes too far to define that sort of value choice as prima facie "irrational", IMO - all value choices are, to some extent, not subject to rational bases. We tend to think that it's better to be alive than dead, but I think that given a moment's reflection, you might find that it's actually very difficult to put together a rational foundation underlying that choice other than that it's simply your personal preference - in a very real sense, saying that being alive is better than being dead is not at all different than saying that chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla. No matter how much poking and prodding you do, you're going to end up with the same basis in purely personal preference for both of those choices.

So where do we go from here? Well, realpolitik is far from dead - we just have to recognize and understand the sorts of rationality at work in the minds of those who would destroy us. They still have interests, and act in furtherance of those interests, but part of their rational calculation is the conclusion that it's better to be dead than submit. And so if deterrence won't serve to rein in their actions, then we simply take the next logical step and kill them before they kill us - which was always a final option held in reserve under the notion of realpolitik. QED.

So, although it may very well appear that I end up in much the same place as the author, I think I do so by rather a different route. I very much dispute the notion that a "new paradigm" is necessary or desirable, particularly when the old one is still perfectly serviceable, given a bit of tweaking. And isn't that the essence of conservatism? ;)

35 posted on 03/16/2003 11:35:36 PM PST by general_re (Non serviam.)
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To: tictoc
Thanks for the "Fantasy Ideology" link - good read - I hadn't seen it before.
36 posted on 03/17/2003 12:46:53 AM PST by ThePythonicCow (Mooo !!!!)
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To: nathanbedford
May God help us if Bush is replaced by a democrat before he can get us to the Promised Land.

And maybe that's all us common folk need to keep as our prayer.

You have stated the situation well for us simpler folk who survey the view from our present outlook and are hoping that someone can find us a way.

37 posted on 03/17/2003 1:40:25 AM PST by happygrl
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To: beckett
An excellent read, albeit long.

I have lifted a few of the points that I found to be quite enlightening.

"The motivations of those who want to murder us are not complicated: To watch an American city go up into a fireball is its own reward.

This is the lesson that 9/11 should teach us in dealing with the fantasists of the Islamic world. A fantasy does not need to make any sense - that is the whole point of having one.

.....

An empire acts to insure its own self-interest. But, in this case, the U.S. is rather acting as an agent for the interests of others at precisely the same time it is acting to insure its own national interests. Indeed, this is what Hegel meant by the cunning of reason. No matter how cynically one might choose to view American motives, what matters, at the world-historical level, is the objective consequence. Interpret America's true motives as cynically as you please - let it be the defense of the interest of big business in the stability of world markets - it makes no difference. What counts in the long run is the kind of world that arises out of this subjective intent. And this is where the enormous difference between the obsolete concept of empire and that of the emergent neo-sovereignty becomes strikingly clear. For in its role as neo-sovereign the United States, in pursuing its selfish policy, is also forced to increase the general level of security throughout the world.

.....

(speaking of the islamists)Success comes when we have created a higher degree of pragmatic realism on their part; failure comes when we have simply encouraged them in their fantasies.

And judged by this criterion, much of American policy toward the Islamic fantasists has been a signal departure from the American tradition of realism. For so much of our policy, from the Iran hostage crisis up until the events of 9/11 have almost been designed to encourage the growth of fantasy thinking among the most dangerous social forces in the Islamic world. Their policy has been to make us fear them through displays of force, whether in taking the staff of our embassy hostage or by flying airplanes into our buildings. And we have given our enemy the ultimate satisfaction - we have shown we are afraid. We have displayed how much their acts have devastated us, and our grief has provided a sickening opportunity for Schadenfreude on the part of far too much of the Islamic world. We must learn not only to exact a price for those who murder our citizens - but for those who, though technically innocent of the crime, dance in the streets to celebrate its consequences. This thirst for the indulgence of bloody fantasies at our expense must be brought to an end by whatever means it takes. Indeed, in the long run the greatest danger we face comes not from the terrorists of today, but those being bred for tomorrow - the children who are being inducted and brainwashed into the terror cult that is at the heart of the fantasy ideology of Islamism.

.....

But it is equally critical that we are not misled into trying to win the hearts and minds of the Islamic fantasists. We must not set about trying to convert them in believing in our principles and accepting our values, however noble and lofty these values might be. Nor must we be seduced into believing that we are in a popularity contest, as if we were trying to sell Western values as if it were a consumer product. If it should happen to come about that these values make inroads in the Islamic world, fine and good. But it must not became our aim.

Our aim is simple. It is to make the Islamic fantasists respect the dictates of reality. If they wish to compete with us, if they wish even to be our enemies, we will accept that, as we accepted this situation with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. But they must be made to accept the basic rules of play - rules that are accepted by the rest of mankind, from the U.S. to Communist China.

And that is why, in order to achieve our end of heightening their grasp on reality, no means should be ruled out. We must be prepared to use force "unstintingly," as Woodrow Wilson declared on America's reluctant entry into World War I. On this count, we must have no illusions. Until they are willing to play by our rules, we must be prepared to play by theirs."

Again thank you for posting this illuminating article!

38 posted on 03/17/2003 2:35:49 AM PST by ImpBill ("You are either with US or against US!")
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To: nathanbedford
The reason Germany, France, and even Democrats don't get it is that they TOO are operating under a fantasy ideology-- i.e., that political power can be exercised without military power, and that "peace" is possible without a strong, effective, rational Peace-keeper (i.e., the U.S.). They want the fantasy institution of the U.N. to be effective (that is, they want the picture of the U.N. that they have in their heads to be true and to fulfill this role)-- they continualy disconnect from reality in refusing to examine the history of U.N. actions and failures to act in assessing whether their wish for U.N. effectiveness is realistic.
39 posted on 03/17/2003 5:40:16 AM PST by walden
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To: Dumb_Ox
You are missing something here-- nothing in this changed world-view requires any change at all in the relationship between U.S. government and American citizens-- it relates not at all to anything domestic. It is a super-structure for dealing with the world out there, and in my opinion, it is absolutely correct. You don't have to get it, you don't have to agree with it if you do get it, and you don't have to worry about it.
40 posted on 03/17/2003 5:45:47 AM PST by walden
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To: tictoc
TechCentralStation started out as a techie site and has evolved to where it has some of the best thinking around-- I don't really know what or who it is, but I know that Jonah Goldberg and others at NRO read and refer to it from time to time.
41 posted on 03/17/2003 5:48:22 AM PST by walden
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To: walden
Yes, I am afraid they see the Bush administration as a pit bull that has slipped its leash.

To work another metaphor, they see us as the monster and themselves as Dr. Frankenstein whose duty it is to control their brawny but childlike tool. Their means of control was to be the UN and NATO but we have slippped those leashes.

If we have any sense we will not docilly put the UN leash back on for the occupaption of Irak but we will instead reward our friends and punish our enemies, while we do good for the Iraqi people. Let the liberals call that "imperialism" but it something the world needs a good dose of.
42 posted on 03/17/2003 10:57:44 AM PST by nathanbedford
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To: nathanbedford
"If we have any sense we will not docilly put the UN leash back on for the occupaption of Irak but we will instead reward our friends and punish our enemies, while we do good for the Iraqi people. Let the liberals call that "imperialism" but it something the world needs a good dose of."

I absolutely agree-- the "occupied territories" has basically been run by the U.N. for what, 35 years? Since the '67 war? I'm not sure, but I know that it's been long enough that the U.N. has a HUGE vested stake in NOT getting to a solution to the problem. The same has been true for Iraq, to a lesser degree-- running the "Oil for Food" program has been a huge boondogle since the first Gulf War.
43 posted on 03/17/2003 11:27:57 AM PST by walden
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To: general_re
"But this is a value choice, and no more or less rational than the opting for self-preservation in the face of certain defeat that we would choose...."

This is exactly the heart of the issue but I could not disagree more with your assertion. In the arts and in cultural analysis cultural relativism has exerted a pernicious influence. It has effected the judgement of our elites to the point where we are afraid to assert traditional American values in foreign policy just as many politicians are embarassed to defend traditional American values on the domestic front.

Mr. Harris' piece was very guarded in its language. He coined the term "neo-sovereignty" rather than use the more emotionally loaded term "neo-imperialism". In reality Mr. Harris was describing a new policy of enlightened, non-exploitive neo-imperialism. The attempt to treat all cultures as equally valid has been at the root of the foreign policy malaise in the post-Cold War era.

A brief reprise of the history of British imperialism would be helpful to recount here. British imperialism was chraracterized by economic arrangements that favored the British but at the same time imposed the obligation of building civic institutions and training local administrators in the colony. The British system which has gradations of local autonomy leading to idependence seems preferable to many of the kleptocracies currently in power in the developing world. The fanatical anti-colonialism of FDR's administration led to the premature de-colonization of many counrties after WWII. The results of this policy are plain to see in Africa and the Middle East.

Mr. Harris' sovereignty concept is not "might makes right" but rather "right earns right"; that is to say the degree to which a government's sovereign rights are deemed to be legitimate should be directly proportional to the extent to which the government protects the human rights of its citizens. Based on this criterion many third world kleptocracies have questionable claims on legitmate state sovereignty.

The doctine of the inviolability of National Right of Self-Determination is closely allied with the idea of cultural relativism. The apparent affinity of many strains of Islamic culture for authoritarian governments is no historical accident. They are part of the same cultuaral tap root. An effective foreign policy for the 21st century will recognize that any government that systematically supresses human rights lacks legitimacy even if such a government is favored by the majority of its citizens.

The Natural Law doctrine is starting regain favor in legal circles. Having a universal standard against which to measure the behavior of governments is powerful concept which has been thrown away because of our uncritical acceptance derived from our anti-colonial past of the right of National Self-Determination. The existence of many "illiberal Democracies" in the world today is indicative of that fact that Democracy alone is not a sufficient guarantor of human rights.
44 posted on 03/17/2003 2:23:30 PM PST by ggekko
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To: ggekko
This is exactly the heart of the issue but I could not disagree more with your assertion. In the arts and in cultural analysis cultural relativism has exerted a pernicious influence. It has effected the judgement of our elites to the point where we are afraid to assert traditional American values in foreign policy just as many politicians are embarassed to defend traditional American values on the domestic front.

Wait, wait - let's not conflate the notion of other cultures as rational with the notion that they are moral. The two concepts are not one and the same. In one sense, if I can eliminate the risk of punishment, it's a perfectly rational course of action for me to kill you and take your possessions - the risk is low and the rewards are high - but that hardly makes it moral for me to do so. And on the opposite side of that coin, sacrificing one's own life for the life of a perfect stranger is not really what we would call a rational choice, especially where self-preservation is held paramount, but in many circumstances, it is a highly moral choice.

So when I say that they are rational actors, it should not be taken to mean that everything they do is somehow okay - it's not intended to excuse them, but to explain them. And as I said, this is not least because defining them as "irrational" is not a useful designation - they aren't irrational, it's just a different calculus at work. And you can hardly understand your enemies without first coming to understand how they think.

An effective foreign policy for the 21st century will recognize that any government that systematically supresses human rights lacks legitimacy even if such a government is favored by the majority of its citizens.

And what then are we to make of a state that systematically suppresses the fundamental right of self-determination when it happens to dislike the results? There is no moral high ground in such a position, and no particular legitimacy inheres in such a foreign policy. "We know what's good for you better than you know what's good for you" has been the source of endless troubles throughout the world, literally for millennia, but now we're supposed to embrace that on our own behalf? And what will we say when someone comes to us and says "we know what's good for you better than you do"? Or will it simply be meaningless, because we have the power to impose our will upon others, and nobody has the power to impose theirs on us? In which case, isn't that exactly the same as saying that we have the right by virtue of the fact that we have the might?

Having a universal standard against which to measure the behavior of governments is powerful concept which has been thrown away because of our uncritical acceptance derived from our anti-colonial past of the right of National Self-Determination.

It's been thrown away because it's dangerous. It's a great idea, so long as you're the one who gets to decide which standard will apply. But what will we say when the world decides that laissez-faire capitalism "systematically suppresses the human rights" of the American people - namely, their "right" to free health care, free education, a massive welfare state, and so forth? Upon what grounds will we object if they decide to ignore the right of self-determination among Americans, and simply impose the sort of government they think we deserve?

No, I think it's really best to stay out of the crusade business in the first place. Iraq in its present form will die not because we have the "right" to adjudge its legitimacy, but because it is a danger to us and a danger to others, and because we have the right to defend ourselves from madmen with the ability to kill millions. But because we exercise that right, we have a corresponding responsibility to see that Iraq is reborn a better place. We don't do it because we have the right to remake the world as we see fit - we do it because our desire for self-preservation demands it, and leaves us no other choice. We don't act because we can, or because we have the right - we act because we have to. And then we follow the moral and humane course, and rebuild them better than they were before.

45 posted on 03/17/2003 4:00:07 PM PST by general_re (Non serviam.)
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To: general_re
"So when I say that they are rational actors, it should not be taken to mean that everything they do is somehow okay...."

Would that the Islamic fanatics and the Governments that support them act like characters from the "Sopranos"; the motivations and actions of "Soprano" type characters are at least comprehensible and somewhat predictable. What motivates many Islamic fanatics and intellectuals is the historical memory of a supposed Golden Age of Islamic culture that never existed. It is a narcotic fantasy invented by Islamic intellectuals. In my experience, there is nothing more dangerous than a person or culture mired in a delusion.

Your distinction between the rational and the moral is true but somehwat trivial in relation to the issue at hand. You did not address directly the question of cultural relativism in foreign policy. There are certain human freedoms that are universal. The issues you have raised are exactly how the Nazis defended themselves at the Nuremburg trails. Their argument was that everything that they did was legal under German law; since it was legal it was moral for them. Who were the Allies the to judge?

It was only after the prosecutors at Nuremburg adopted a Natural Law argument that asserted universal human rights that they were able to obtain convictions. The chief Allied prosecutor, Judge Jackson, mired as he was in the positivist theories of Oliver Wendell Holmes, nearly lost the case.

"And what then are we to make of a state that systematically suppresses the fundamental right of self-determination when it happens to dislike the results?"

According to this logic, then, Hitler would have been okay along as he didn't invade any other countries and stuck to only murdering German citizens. Under those circumstances according to your logic no other state would have the right to interfere in German internal affairs. A pretty curious doctrine.

I don't think it very difficult to seize the moral high ground from states such Cambodia under Pol Pot or Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. The abuse of universal human rights in such countries is so pervasive and obvious that they inspire unanimous condemnation.

"It's a great idea, so long as you're the one who gets to decide which standard will apply..."

A Government that does not systemically supress ethnic minorities, does not arbitrarily supress basic economic freedoms, that promotes the rule of law, allows a free press, and does not supress religious expression cuts a broad swath across different cultures and types of Governmental forms of organization. It would include under its umbrella liberalizing Islamic regimes such as Qatar and European welfare states such as Sweeden. Even some Constutional monarchies would be able to deliver these rights to its people.

To think that states that cannot meet these basic criteria are dysfuntional and are potential candidates for change is not very hard to conceive. A Government of "limited and enumerated" powers has very strong appeal around the world. We seem to have forgotten this in a misguided desire to portray very culture and Government as being equally good and valid.

46 posted on 03/17/2003 8:44:21 PM PST by ggekko
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To: Torie; jwalsh07; PatrickHenry; VadeRetro
Ping.



47 posted on 03/17/2003 9:00:18 PM PST by Sabertooth
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To: Mackey
Powell is pretty set in his ways. I don't think this piece would change his mind. I still remember, then General Powell, urging President Bush(41) to give sanctions 2 years to work before deciding to go to war to liberate Kuwait. Bush ignored his advice and invaded about 2 months later.
48 posted on 03/17/2003 9:18:01 PM PST by Captain Beyond (The Hammer of the gods! (Just a cool line from a Led Zep song))
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To: ggekko
What motivates many Islamic fanatics and intellectuals is the historical memory of a supposed Golden Age of Islamic culture that never existed. It is a narcotic fantasy invented by Islamic intellectuals. In my experience, there is nothing more dangerous than a person or culture mired in a delusion.

Again, while it is convenient to label them as "irrational" - particularly as we can then use that label to rationalize doing whatever it is we happen to want to do - it is simply not so. Whether their goal is real or attainable or practical or not is all neither here nor there - it is their goal, and it is what motivates them. And they act in a calculated manner, designed to advance that goal.

You did not address directly the question of cultural relativism in foreign policy. There are certain human freedoms that are universal.

Such as the "freedom" to have universal, cradle-to-grave health care, the "freedom" to breathe air that is 100% free of fossil fuel emissions, the "freedom" to advance in society according to the historical victimization of your particular ethnic group. Your argument is wonderful, so long as everyone agrees what those universal freedoms and rights are. Of course, if everyone agreed about what those universals were, we wouldn't be in this kind of mess in the first place.

But, of course, they don't agree, and so it's simply a game of who can impose their universals upon the others. You will notice, I hope, that nowhere do I deny that such a universal morality might exist - what I am telling you is that it is irrelevant. The truth doesn't matter in politics, whether local, national, or international - what matters is what people believe. And most people simply don't believe in your conception of universal human rights, so you have little choice but to simply impose it upon them - "we know what's better for you than you do".

But, the cry goes out, we have the forces of truth and justice on our side! Wonderful. The communists say exactly the same thing. The Islamists say exactly the same thing. I don't claim for a minute that all cultures are equally valid and moral, but in this argument, there is no difference. Everybody says that they have the right to impose upon another, everybody says that they have the right to violate some rights in pursuit of others - what makes you different from them? Why is your cause just, and theirs not? Because your ends justify those means? What happens when they make exactly the same claim?

49 posted on 03/18/2003 5:31:09 AM PST by general_re (Non serviam.)
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To: general_re
Why is your cause just, and theirs not? Because your ends justify those means? What happens when they make exactly the same claim?

One could argue that there's an objective test for all of this. The society with the best values is (we hope) the one with the greatest ability to develop the best weapons, the best army, navy, air force, etc. Present circumstances would indicate that the US has won this objective test, thus we have earned the right to preserve our values against all competitors. History has, up to now, been very convenient for my argument. If we had been defeated in WWII, I wouldn't be making this argument. On the other hand, one can point to past societies that had good values (by our standards) yet which didn't do too well. Athens is a good example. The Roman republic is another. Not bad, while they lasted. I suppose the same is true of us. We should make the most of it. In the days of Confucius they called it the "mandate of heaven." Use it or loose it.

50 posted on 03/18/2003 8:34:11 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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