Thursday, January 13, 2005

America's Civilizing Role

In general, I'm eager to debate anti-war leftists (or populists even). But I've lost patience with a few claims, because they're plainly false. Some of these will be addressed in future posts, but today's topic is "America's not a global policeman."

Simply put, why not? Make no mistake--I'm not arguing we're obligated to help; America doesn't have a duty to intervene in all places simultaneously. But the world surely needs a cop, and America's the only candidate, for two reasons.

First, only America can project force around the globe. America's defense budget dwarfs the next ten countries, combined. And, considering infrastructure and technology (such as air- and sea-lift capability), Bill Whittle is correct:
[T]he sad, inconvenient, disappointing fact is that there is only one army on the face of the earth that can fight on the same battlefield with the United States; whose forces, technology and training rival ours in quality if not in scale, and whose trust has been forged by three world wars when we have stood alone, together. That country is Great Britain.
America sacrificed lives and spent its treasure opposing Soviet oppression while most of the West and Third World were Cold-War free riders; most remain free riders today. And, as I've previously observed, "America's huge defense budget funds a strong Navy that keeps sea-lanes open, a sine qua non of global commerce" sustaining those same nations today.

Second, America is one of a very few nations (along with the U.K. and Australia) who consistently have tried to inject a moral component into foreign policy. This is not to say that America hasn't, and won't continue to, act to further its own interests. But the U.S. has intervened without obvious Realpolitik interests (e.g., Haiti), including where Europe's failed to progress beyond dilatory hand-wringing (e.g., Bosnia, Kosovo). Unlike, say, France.

After defeating Napoleon, Britain deployed the Royal Navy -- unilaterally and by force -- to end the slave trade: the original "gun boat diplomacy," benefiting all peoples and nations. Since WWII, America's inherited England's role, persuading Libya to drop its WMD program and -- most recently -- insisting on elections in Iraq. Meanwhile, Europe prolongs its ineffective dance about Iran's nuclear build-up. At least starting with President Reagan, America's been a force for good, as Victor Davis Hanson explains:
Imagine a world in which there was no United States during the last 15 years. Iraq, Iran, and Libya would now have nukes. Afghanistan would remain a seventh-century Islamic terrorist haven sending out the minions of Zarqawi and Bin Laden worldwide. The lieutenants of Noriega, Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Saddam, and Moammar Khaddafi would no doubt be adjudicating human rights at the United Nations. The Ortega Brothers and Fidel Castro, not democracy, would be the exemplars of Latin America. Bosnia and Kosovo would be national graveyards like Pol Pot's Cambodia. Add in Kurdistan as well — the periodic laboratory for Saddam's latest varieties of gas. Saddam himself, of course, would have statues throughout the Gulf attesting to his control of half the world's oil reservoirs. Europeans would be in two-day mourning that their arms sales to Arab monstrocracies ensured a second holocaust. North Korea would be shooting missiles over Tokyo from its new bases around Seoul and Pusan. For their own survival, Germany, Taiwan, and Japan would all now be nuclear.
Note I'm not arguing America's always right. But even "mostly right" is a hell of lot better record than -- wait for it -- the Cinquième République.

Islamic terror is an enemy of unprecedented villainy, as Hammorabi details:
The wahabi terrorists in Yosfyiah (the triangle of death) killed 8 Iraqi Shiite passengers and kidnapped other 3 from a minibus between Baghdad and Najaf. The other kidnapped three were later found beheaded.

In an ugly and disgusting crime the same terrorists beheaded a wife and her husband inside their home. The couples are Iraqi Christians who were missed by the relative for several weeks. They then found them at their home beheaded and their bodies decomposed.
No one seriously argues such murders are justified, civilized or moral -- yet the pacifist left "sees no evil" at best, and supports the murderers at worst. They reject any consideration of the plight of non Americans, which amounts to a retreat into isolationism. Rather, for liberals, it's about oil; the proof of which (supposedly) is opposition from Russia and the "chocolate producing nations" (France, Belgium, Germany). But, that's evidence of envy, not immorality, as Hanson explains:
Americans know all that — and yet they grasp that their own vigilance and military sacrifices have earned them spite rather than gratitude. And they are ever so slowly learning not much to care anymore.
Remember, France -- and the American left -- also disputed America's ultimately successful containment policy during the Cold War, notes Jonah Goldberg:
[E]ven the most obvious good-vs.-evil conflicts don't seem that obvious to lots of people when they're in the middle of them. I have no doubt that when Americans look back on what we are now calling the "war on terror," the morality and necessity of it will seem every bit as obvious as the morality and necessity of the Cold War seem to most of us, including Bill Clinton.

But just as millions of Americans were flat-out wrong about the urgency and necessity of fighting the Cold War, today there are millions of good and decent Americans who do not want to look the current enemy in the eye. They cling to polysyllabic professors who find clever ways to say the same dumb things over and over again. They look to America-detesting Europeans, mistaking cynicism for sagacity. And they look to politicians like John Kerry who proudly shift their opinions based upon the most convenient way of avoiding tough decisions, calling their zigs "nuance" and their zags "sophistication," promising to "stay the course" only if it's plotted as a U-turn.
In short, only America has the ability and the vision to police the world. We're not obliged, but -- like Dr. Johnson's dog on its hind legs -- it's amazing "to find it done at all." The Foreign Service Officers blogging at Diplomad were addressing tsunami relief, but the conclusion of their post titled "Death in Nasty Places: Who Cares?" applies equally to U.S. military intervention:
Begging the pardon of the cultural relativists, but might we not be allowed to raise -- ever so gently, of course -- the possibility that these differing reactions to human suffering, show Western civilization as the best we have on the planet? Maybe, just maybe Western civilization is morally superior.
So, for those still opposed to America-as-policeman, a question: The murders continue; the murderers remain free. You don't want America to be a cop promoting civilization but, if not us, who?

And don't say "France."


MD said...

Why does the left have an attraction to, and even affection for, totalitarians of all stripes?

Why does their contempt for western civilization morph into an embrace for its enemies, even enemies who are hideous?

We wait for your post.

@nooil4pacifists said...

Answer: guilt. In Europe, post-colonial guilt; in America, racial guilt. Though each have some basis in fact, the left overreacts: lacking faith (because they're secular) and confidence (because they're infected with the post-modern virus), they respond by despising their own culture and country. And, they fumble the "excluded middle" fallacy to exalt anyone attacking the civilized West.

As a result, those most keenly committed to reason, liberty and tolerance identify with an enemy devoted to ritual, obedience and conformity. It's acceptable in a college sophomore, annoying in a college professor--but poisonous in politics.

MD said...

Let's assume you're correct.

If one is a leftist, wouldn't one then conclude that such "guilt" is not sui generis, but sprang from the very best ideals and values of YOUR civilization and not from the civilizations of the brutes, idealogues, fascists, and communist totalitarians that the left glorifies.

In other words, a leftist (at least one of minimal intelligence) would recognize that he/she (her thoughts, values, and worldview) is a product of the West, and irrevocably entwined in the West and its Zeitgeist.

This leads me to speculate that leftists are hypocrites; they denigrate the West, but simultaneously think quite highly of themselves, despite the fact that their values and worldview are completely Western. They also have the nasty habit of staying around in this horrible civilization, and enjoying its benefits, all the while accusing it not only of the foulest of crimes but also of being criminal at heart.

Anonymous said...

Arguments about the need for America to police the world is exactly where conservatism has gone wrong. Has anyone noticed that Bush/Cheney's neo-conservatism is just a more aggressive version of Clinton/Gore's neo-liberalism? The current administration is changing the world through conquest, while the previous one levied diplomacy bombs and international institutions against dissenting nations.

The sad part about these policies is that people on both sides of the aistle have been duped into changing their ideology in order to serve the current administration (simaltaneously the Dems changed their ideology to oppose the current administration). Both parties and their identical agendas are just selling us down the river, be it Clinton selling US assets to China or Bush giving billions to his corporate friends destroying and rebuilding Iraq.

So go ahead, support the Iraq war; eight years from now when Billary invades Iraq again you can go out and picket against it.