Friday, May 12, 2006

Naive Absurdities vs. Reason and Reality

I have numerous problems with the various claims of convservatives or people generally thought of as "right-wing." However, sometimes the absurdities and bizarre naivete of what currently apparently passes for leftism simply boggles the mind. As evidence I present a column in today's Los Angeles Times entitled "A preschool lesson on Iran," written by one Rosa Brooks, a lawyer who has been active in various human rights groups. Allow me to quote from the column:
Child one: "That's my shovel!"

Child two: "You already have a shovel! This is MY shovel!"

Child one: "I want ALL the shovels! I will KILL you!"

Child two: "I will KILL YOU MORE!"

To foreign policy aficionados, it's a familiar scenario; e.g.:

U.S. (per President Bush): "[Iran] will be dealt with…. "

Iran (per President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad): "[The U.S. is] not capable of causing the least harm to the Iranian people; they will suffer more."

U.S. (per U.N. Ambassador John Bolton): "If [Iran] continues … there will be tangible and painful consequences."

Iran (per supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei): "Iran will respond twofold to any attack."

U.S. (per Bush administration): "Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!"

In both the little sandbox and the big sandbox, conflicts like this often end in tears. But tears aren't inevitable. Sensible grown-ups de-escalate the situation by treating the little darlings like rational people, even if they're not, and behaving in a way that establishes clear expectations and respects the emotions of everyone concerned.
I know for a fact that not all liberals feel this way (and it is "feel" -- even a modicum of thought would have prevented Ms. Brooks from writing this drivel). Alan Dershowitz and Christopher Hitchens immediately come to mind as having in many ways far more sensible views. Nevertheless, her point of view seems quite prevalent among numerous people usually termed "liberals." I do find it amusing that the games that the Bush administration is presently playing with Iran are tantamount to serious threats that the situation needs to be "de-escalated." But seriously now, despite her degrees from Harvard and Oxford, Ms. Brooks seems unaware of history and more specifically the absence of successful negotiations between murderous totalitarian theocracies and free countries. Brooks seems to desparate to not allow moral judgment to play any part in the controversy with the invitable result that she treats Iran and the U.S. as two morally equivalent rivals rather than the moral opposites that they are.

If Brooks were to take moral principles into account when thinking about this situation she might hopefully have concluded that, based on the principle of individual rights, that a policy which "respects the emotions of everyone concerned" is in fact evil. It would be the equivalent of treating the mafia and the police as morally equivalent (though I would not be surprised if Ms. Brooks would have no problem doing that as well.)

A proper policy would recognize that we have in fact long been at war with Iran particularly since the embassy hijacking during the Iranian revolution. Ms. Brooks mentions the embassy episode in passing as if it was only a minor diplomatic tiff between two countries that otherwise have much in common. Wrong! Occupying another country's embassy by force is an act of war that deserves a warlike response! Unfortunately President Carter did not declare war on Iran at the time, nor has any President since then, including the present President Bush despite plenty of additional provocations since the embassy takeover.
Unlike Ms. Broooks nonsense, an analysis that is based on proper moral principles and a rational thought process can be found in today's Jerusalem Post, in Caroline Glick's Column One. Her column today is entitled "America embraces the Hamas fantasy." Unlike Brooks, Glick sees through the posturing of the Bush administration:
Ahmadinejad's letter was delivered on Monday. One would think that if the Bush administration was concerned about the signals Teheran was sending that Bush and top administration officials would be at pains for the next several days to ensure that Iran and the rest of the world understood that the US would not be surrendering any time soon to the dictates of its sworn enemies.

Sadly, the opposite occurred.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the EU's foreign policy chiefs at the UN for a summit of the so-called Middle East Quartet. The meeting, which was the first official gathering of Quartet members since the popularly elected Hamas government assumed power in the Palestinian Authority and Ehud Olmert formed his government in Israel, was dedicated to the question of how to continue to give the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid even though they just elected an international jihadist organization to lead them.
Actions speak louder than words and despite occasional "tough" language, the Bush administration has not only refrained from doing anything about the Iranian threat, but as Glick points out, rewarded one of its clients with monetary support despite Hamas's continuing support for terrorism. Glick also points out a few further facts, lest one think that Hamas's objectives are limited to Israel:

Indeed, even before Hamas subordinated itself to Teheran, the movement was in a declared state of war against America. On December 17, 2001, Hamas published a joint declaration with the Islamic Jihad in which it declared, "Americans are the enemies of the Palestinian people," and Americans "are a target for future attacks." Hamas's rhetoric has customarily been imbued with virulent anti-Americanism. Hamas has financed Palestinian members of al-Qaida and in at least one instance, in 2003, it trained a naturalized Canadian citizen from Gaza in terrorist tactics for the purpose of having him carry out attacks in Canada and the US. Fortunately, Israeli security forces arrested him before he was able to carry out his mission.

As Matthew Levitt points out in his copiously documented and detailed new book, Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, in 2004 the FBI admitted that Hamas has the capabilities to carry out attacks in the US. In August 2004, a Hamas terrorist was arrested while taking pictures of the suspension cables of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

In its present capacity as an Iranian client there can be no doubt that Hamas's willingness to take action against the US has increased. Its interest in expanding its activities beyond Israel has been on full display in recent weeks in Jordan. For the second time in so many weeks, on Wednesday a Jordanian government spokesman announced the unearthing of Hamas weapons caches in the kingdom, including Iranian-made rocket launchers. The spokesman also announced that Hamas is seeking to recruit Jordanian nationals to undergo terror training in Syria and Iran. The spokesman referred to Hamas's activities in the country as posing "a major threat to the national security of the country."

Glick's views are breath of fresh air filled with reality, reason, and a proper moral perspective which takes into account of the difference between good and evil on the international scene. However, it is also a fact that her point of view has few followers in Israel, a country that seems intent on continuing its path to self-destruction by surrendering further parts of its territory.

Similarly, in the United States, it is an unfortunate fact that there appears to be nobody presently on the political scene who is willing to fight this war as it needs to be fought. We are presented with a choice of either utopian pacificism which counsels outright surrender or a severely hampered inadequate military effort which does not believe in victory and thus results in neverending relatively restrained conflict as well as substantial security-related impositions at home, which supposedly we're required to live with indefinitely. It seems we'll have to wait until better ideas in the culture make possible a better leadership.

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