"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, August 26, 2005

Conservative War Critics' Dilemma

My post from yesterday on the antiwar movement of the right has been extensively rewritten as an article for FrontPage magazine and appears in today's issue. Here's a very brief excerpt:

[I]n arguing against Western projects of nation-building in the "developing world," conservatives such as Auster and Warren (and Buchanan and the like) face a huge dilemma: their belief in a common human nature (though one that certainly permits a wide variety of human customs and organizing beliefs) is a strong argument against radicalism of the left, but it is not useful in refuting the logic of projects based on a belief in a common human nature, which Bush's nation-building action in Iraq most certainly is.

I believe that the interaction between human nature and human culture is more complex, variable, and flexible than Auster and other antiwar conservatives tend to think. The acknowledgment of this truth is central to the classical liberal (and modern conservative) position. . . .

You may read the article here.

3 comments:

Hunter Baker said...

Thou art on quite the tear, my friend.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Love the stuff, STK. As usual, you clearly and fairly delineate the premises, a rarer and worthier talent than jumping to conclusions.

My reply would be that having observed Bush's considerable skill and patience at political poker, the strategy has been to let the dynamics in Iraq smoke themselves out. The working theory is that 70% of the populace have that universal hunger for dignity, even if not freedom per se. They are oppressed by the other 30, whose motivations are pretty much Hobbesian.

The more those 70% are empowered in a society, the more stable and peaceful it is likely to be.

Best to work from the high to low. Starting out at the basest level, simply brokering deals between petty tyrants, of course leads to the most easily achievable gratification. Are we there yet? But the chickens of realpolitik come home to roost, as our friends in the peanut-gallery left are fond of reminding us.

But I've seen no indication that Bush is a moralizing fool like Jimmy Carter who will not accept half a loaf. There is indeed a timetable for this adventure, the dates for elections and constitutions. The Iraqis are ignoring the gory headlines; Sadr gave up his rebellion, the Sunnis want in, there are no Yankee Go Home mass demonstrations, and the nascent Iraqi home force has not, at least, collapsed.

It appears that it is George W. Bush who is most in tune with the Iraqi people, not the talkers of the West. He's painted as a precipitous man, but I can think of no one more patient.

The Eastern mind admires steadfastness above all---time is measured there with calendars, not wristwatches. There is always time for the one who blinks first to cut a bad deal. But it's not been Bush who's been doing the blinking.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I swear on a stack of decaying back issues of The Nation that I did not see this article until after I wrote the above.

For better or worse, I just get the guy, is all.