Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Gloomy hawks

If you haven’t already read Stanley Kurtz’s "Hawkish Gloom," you should. And while you’re at it, read David Warren’s gloomy piece.

Discussions - 17 Comments

Yes, "the mess that got us into Iraq," and in Afghanistan, too, if you consider it. My son, just home from Guantanamo, is confidently expecting to do his corpsman thing in Lebanon. He and his fellow sailors are almost looking forward to it. Gloomy.

He is also predicting that Cuba will be propped up after Castro’s death by Chavez and Venezualian oil money, if that isn’t happening already. Does every mother’s son try to cheer her up like this?

Democratization sounds all very well and good, but this
also mentioned in the Kurtz piece and even more gloom producing, if possible, would indicate the problem of popular rule in such societies. Well, it ends on a somewhat hopeful note, as if something reasonable is possible with a "nuanced understanding" of Hezbollah’s politics. God help us.

Democratization: what a joke. If you give them democracy they vote for Hamas. Back in the day we propped up people like Saddam because we(correctly) saw them as a force for stability in the Middle East. It’s time for more realism and less idealism.

There is a voice in the middle east. It is, at present, very weak, but it’s there. Unless and until that voice becomes so strong that it reforms Islam, we must continue to fight the cancer that is Jihad.

You would think that with all the Leocons whispering poison in Bush’s ear someone would have remembered The Politics V:XI or at least FDR’s Commonwealth Club Adress (posted on the NLT website of all places).

You want someone to keep Iran and Shites and religious fanatics of all stripes in line? Well you threw that guy in the dock. What did you get for it? Chaos. Turning Iraq into a playground for jihadists has been the biggest accomplishment of the so-called war on terror.

But no major politician will ever admit the truth about this war. That would not be politically expedient. It will be the same gaudy obfuscations for the rest of my life, and probably into the lives of my children and grandchildren.

I never thought of Iraq as a quixotic Wilsonian venture, but a very real start in a very real war. Think of it as "Operation Bugzapper." All those jihadis are OVER THERE, where we have an army to deal with them. Would you prefer them blowing up Bali nightclubs, Spanish trains, etc.?

Of course, some argue that our invasion of Iraq caused all this trouble, but I seriously doubt that. Today we are killing people who pre-hated us from long ago. Iraq is a sponge that protects the rest of the world from terrorist chaos. That’s the way Bush and CO. should (quietly) sell this project.

I have always admired Dain’s boldness and forthrightness. But the "we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here" argument has one major problem: destablization of the Middle East is not in our national interest. Destabilizing the region in a quest for democratization is not a properly conservative goal.

Ha, how terribly ironic that Brutus supports a tyrant.

Brutus, when you say "destabilized," I’m assuming you don’t mean...the Suez crisis, the 1967 war, the 1973 war, the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq War, the Russo-Afghan War, the Pakistani-Indian conflict, the Gulf War...etc. Honestly, I don’t think it has ever been "stable," and if there is any hope of "stabilizing" the region then it will have to get worse before it gets better.

And, just leaving it alone and hoping for the best (i.e., the "bury your head in the sand" policy) doesn’t work...9/11 proved that.

All the examples you mention refer to conflicts between regimes. During those wars individual regimes still maintained order within, although it was not the sort of order that you or I would want to live under. The idea is to gradually convert the tyranny into a kingship. To go straight from tyranny to democracy does not seem plausible to me. On this score I think FDR had it right, as I said before:

“When we look about us, we are likely to forget how hard people have worked to win the privilege of government. The growth of the national governments of Europe was a struggle for the development of a centralized force in the nation, strong enough to impose peace upon ruling barons. [….] But the creators of national government were perforce ruthless men. They were often cruel in their methods, but they did strive steadily toward something that society needed and very much wanted, a strong central State able to keep the peace, to stamp out civil war, to put the unruly nobleman in his place, and to permit the bulk of individuals to live safely. [….] When the development among the nations of Europe, however, had been completed, ambition and ruthlessness, having served their term, tended to overstep their mark. There came a growing feeling that government was conducted for the benefit of a few who thrived unduly at the expense of all. The people sought a balancing --a limiting force. There came gradually, through town councils, trade guilds, national parliaments by constitution and by popular participation and control, limitations on arbitrary power.”

It’s true that Europe had a long head start on Islam (in terms of democracy), but then again, Europe had to "evolve" democracy on its own, and in the dark. Islam has lots of "help." Don’t underestimate the pressure of the "global community," or the power of the global media. Even tyrants want to look "legit" in the court of world opinion.

Also, you somehow think that current conflicts are not between "regimes." In fact, they are...most of our troubles in Iraq come from Iranian agitation. Same is true for Lebanon. The odd jihadist...we could handle that if state-sponsored terror didn’t interfere with our anti-terrorism program.

I think Islam in the way it exists now is the main thing keeping the Middle East from being able to modernize (let alone democratize). Remember that the Enlightenment tamed Medieval Catholicism before John Locke and the boys could lay the groundwork for the American Revolution. I do agree with Rumsfield that to win this thing in the long run we need to "drain the swamp", but the only way to do that is to win a war against the soul of Islam. Really it only needs to be done in one country, and I think the fact that Iraq shares a border with Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia played no small part in the choice to invade Iraq.

Iraq’s history and diverse population also make it an ideal (understand "ideal" is a very relative term) place to start defeating this certain type of bad guy. It took a heck of a lot to solve the Continental "German Problem", and it will take even more to break this new(er) enemy’s back.

So, a long hard slog to try to fix an historically persistent mess and to win a war against the soul of Islam. and that with an electorate more interested in who will win "American Idol" than any of issues mentioned above. None of you are really saying that it is off the wall to be gloomy, are you.

I don’t know, Kate. It seems a hopeless task at times, but history is quirky. Sometimes a small pivotal event turns everything around. When you are fighting over symbols and the hearts (rather than minds) of millions of people, little things sometimes matter. I think we must slog on (although I really believe things aren’t going to improve until we somehow deal with Iran).

dain, just Iran and not Syria? I am interested, too, that I used to read about the threat of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and do not read that anymore. How did they deal with that, or was it never a real problem?

Oh, Wahhabism is still a problem, Kate, although I think the Saudis are trying to maintain a very low profile in supporting that rather harsh brand of Islam. Nevertheless, about 80% of the mosques in these good ol’ United States accept funding from the Saudis. An uncomfortable fact.

President dain would let Israel deal with Syria. If they wouldn’t, then I suppose I’d threaten to kick down their door. I’d be very interested to know what kind of WMD (if any) they are storing for their buddy Saddam. Remember, Syria and Iraq = Ba’athist Party.

Here’s a clue, from a recent Pew poll that asked: What do you consider yourself first? A citizen of your country or a Muslim? In the United Kingdom, 7 percent of Muslims consider themselves British first, 81 percent consider themselves Muslim first. This is from Mark Steyn Do you suppose the numbers for the US would be much different, or would our country inspire otherwise? No, given your statistic, we would not.


Yes, I did remember the close connection between Syria and Iraq, and the general assumption in the military after the invasion that the WMD’s had, at least in part, probably gone over that border.


I get so sick of hearing that Islam is a religion of peace. Since when?

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