Friday, March 30, 2012
Defeatist Mentality Leads to Defeat: Why No One Should be Surprised When the Iran-Hamas Axis Destroys Israel
In the Gazan view our aim should have been to entirely disable them from striking again. Since we didn’t accomplish this, they won and we lost. To underscore their contentions they made sure to fire the last salvo--after the ceasefire for which they ironically begged. Thus they had the apparent last word, imparting the impression that they were capable of pummeling us more, if only they wanted to.
It almost doesn’t matter that we reject this interpretation of reality. If they consider themselves undefeated, then for all intents and purposes they indeed weren’t defeated.
Likewise, it’s hardly relevant that we never launched a wide-ranging campaign to crush all Gazan capacity for belligerence. In Gazan eyes if we could crush them, we would have. The very fact that we didn’t set out to do so attests to weakness on our part and to a deterrent strength on theirs.
However, Gazans too misread the situation. It’s not that we’re too weak to take them on, but that we’re scared of winning. This is something that they plainly can’t get their heads around. Nobody in the Mideast can comprehend cerebral convolutions like ours.
When Great Britain faced an existential threat from the predations of Adolf Hitler's Nazi armies, Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared:
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
The Rabin-Peres-Netanyahu-Barak-Sharon-Olmert plan--surrender land to bloodthirsty enemies, set child killers free so that they can kill more innocent, defenseless children, force children to cower behind concrete desks as deadly rockets pummel schoolyards and become giddy when an anti-missile missile that costs $100,000 shoots down one of a nearly endless supply of cheap rockets--falls just a bit short of Churchill's standards.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
"The Shah Always Falls" or why Right Makes Might
Overvaluing stability is a heritage of the Cold War, over the course of which we rationalized our support of some very cruel regimes and we deposed elected governments we didn't like. You could justify it in terms of the greater struggle. But you can't justify it now.
What I wrote was that the shah always falls in the end, Saddam always turns on you, and the Saudis always betray you. If we support evil, the longterm price is almost always too high. And now we don’t have to. Since 1989, or '91, depending on how you want to date it, we've been the only superpower. We haven't thought about what we've been doing.*****
In countries where there’s a struggle going on for the soul and future of Islam, the jury's still out. I'm actually increasingly optimistic. But I do believe the last couple of centuries demonstrate that cultures that oppress women, that don't have freedom of information, that don't value secular education, that have one dominant religion that infects the state and has power over the state, and whose basic unit of social organization is a clan, tribe, or extended family are just not going to compete with the West and especially with the United States. So I'm extremely pessimistic about the old Islamic heartland.
I personally feel that we've made a grotesque mistake aligning ourselves with the most oppressive of the Arabs, with the Arab world's Beverly Hillbillies. Other Arabs built Damascus, Córdoba, Baghdad, Cairo. The Saudis never built anything. The fact that they came into their oil wealth was a disaster, not for us but for the Arab world, because it gave these malevolent hicks raw economic power over the populations of poor Islamic states, such as Egypt. The line about Al Qaeda that’s absolutely true is that Saudis supplied the money and Egyptians supplied the brains. So Saudi money, spent to support their grotesquely repressive version of one of the world’s great religions, has been a disaster for the Arab world.*****
Freedom of information originates in two things, the movable type printing press and the Protestant Reformation. The latter benefits everybody, irrespective of his or her religion, because it breaks down the idea of there being just one path to the truth. The printing press makes the Reformation possible, because suddenly the one true church can no longer contain heretical movements. Information travels faster than it can be suppressed. And the Protestant Reformation is the seminal event in the rise of the West. It opens the door for the last great Western religion, the secular religion of science. Without that fissure, without that breakdown in the one path to the truth, you can't have science.
In Islam the historical symmetry is chilling. Within 10 years of Gutenberg's invention of movable type, a prince, astronomer, mathematician, and poet, Ulûgh Beg of Samarqand, built a great observatory. He was a genius, their Galileo, but the mullahs murdered him, and I take that moment as the point at which it all started calcifying. There are myriad factors in the Islamic decline, but the decline itself has been irreversible. Muslims never turn it around; they never have their reformation that breaks down the one true path. You're either Sunni or Shiah, or perhaps a Sufi offshoot cult. And the reason Indonesia has a chance is that it’s never signed up for one path.*****
Jealousy is a powerful human emotion. Hatred is a tremendous emotional release. Blame is cathartic. At this time in history, the United States is humane, free, rich, and powerful. The Arab Islamic world is just the opposite. Our success is infuriating to people who value their own culture, who love their traditions even though they no longer work, and who look at our enormous success with inchoate envy.
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