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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson: The Politics of War

Once again, VDH has the final word on propaganda:

Two factors explain the current growing hysteria over Iraq, and they transcend the complex nature of the war and even the depressing media reports from the battlefield. First is the strange doctrine of multiculturalism that has become one of our most dominant boutique ideologies of the last few decades, as the United States experienced unleveled prosperity, leisure — and guilt.

All cultures are of equal merit; failure and poverty abroad are never due to indigenous pathology but rather Western colonialism, racism, Christianity, and gender bias. The Other is never to be judged by our own "biased" standards of jurisprudence and "constructed" bourgeois notions of humanity; those poorer, darker, non-Christian, and non-English-speaking are to be collectively grouped as victims, deserving condescension, moral latitude, and some sort of reparations or downright cash grants. Senator Patti Murray gave us the soccer-mom version of this pathology when she once talked of the need to rival bin Laden's supposed humanitarian projects in Afghanistan, while Senator Durbin assures us from a private e-mail that poor suspects in Cuba (no longer terrorists who plot to butcher more thousands) suffer the similar fate of Hitler's victims.

And this:

When Western liberals today talk of a mythical period in the days after 9/11 of "unity" and "European solidarity" what they really remember is a Golden Age of Victimhood, or about four weeks before the strikes against the Taliban commenced. Then for a precious moment at last the United States was a real victim, apparently weak and vulnerable, and suffering cosmic justice from a suddenly empowered other. Oh, to return to the days before Iraq and Afghanistan, when we were hurt, introspective, and pitied, and had not yet "lashed out."

If one examines the infomercials of a bin Laden or Zawahiri, or the terrorist communiqu├ęs sent to the Westernized media, they are almost all rehashes of the Michael Moore Left, from "Bush lied" to "Halliburton" to "genocide" and "Gulag." This now famous "Unholy Alliance" of radical anti-Americans and reactionary jihadists is really a two-way street: Islamists mimic the old leftist critique of the United States, and the Western Left hopes that they in turn can at least tone down their rhetoric about knocking walls over gays or sending all women into burka seclusion — at least long enough to pose as something like disposed Palestinians minus the Hamas bombs laced with feces, rat poison, and nails.

And one last excerpt:

Contrary to all recent popular wisdom, the war in Iraq is not a disaster, but nearing success. It has been costly and at times tragic, but a democracy is in place, accords are being hammered out with Sunni rejectionists, and the democratic reformist mindset is pulsating into Lebanon, Egypt, and the Gulf. This has only been possible because of the courage and efficacy of a much maligned military that, for the lapses of a small minority at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, has been compared to Stalin and Hitler.

If President Bush were a liberal Democrat; if he were bombing a white Christian, politically clumsy fascist in the heart of Europe; if al Qaeda and its Islamist adherents were properly seen as eighth-century tormenters of humanists, women, homosexuals, non-Arabs, and non-Wahhabi believers; and if Iraq had become completely somnolent with the toppling of Saddam's statue, then the American people would have remained behind the effort to dismantle Islamic fundamentalism and create the foundations to ensure its permanent demise.

But once the suicide murdering and bombing from Iraq began to dominate the news, then this administration, for historical reasons largely beyond its own control, had a very small reservoir of good will. The Islamists proved to be more adept in the public relations of winning liberal exemption from criticism than did the administration itself, as one nude Iraqi on film or a crumpled Koran was always deemed far worse than daily beheadings and executions. Indeed, the terrorists were able to morph into downtrodden victims of a bullying, imperialistic America faster than George W. Bush was able to appear a reluctant progressive at war with the Dark Age values of our enemies.

And once that transformation was established, we were into a dangerous cycle of a conservative, tough-talking president intervening abroad to thwart the poorer of the third world — something that has never been an easy thing in recent American history, but now in our own age has become a propagandist's dream come true.

A must read.

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