Saturday, October 18, 2003


Of the ceaseless fighting in the middle east.

Take a couple of minutes to read this entire article by Victor Davis Hanson, a writer I admire for his ability to bring things into clear focus.

The complete text is here.

Here are some excerpts...
Various Syrian foreign ministers, speaking on behalf of a recognized terrorist state, recently warned Israel for fostering "instability" throughout the region by taking out the supposedly empty infrastructure of a killers' training base on Syrian soil. Eliminating such a haven is now deemed inflammatory; habitually blowing up innocent children in Haifa is accepted as pretty much normal business in the Middle East.

Occupy an entire country like Lebanon and the world snores, but bomb a terrorist camp and it snarls. Still, for all the bluster on spec, the "Arab world" is not sure it wishes to send its jets to sure paradise merely to avenge the honor of Bashar al Assad, who can't even provide air cover for the murderers' base that he subsidizes and whose ruins are off-limits to reporters. Disgusted with all this, most Americans flip the channel when any spokesman from the "Arab League" appears on screen to warn about "repercussions" to come...

Still, if only Israel would dismantle those pesky settlements, Europeans and many Americans sigh — blissfully forgetting that three wars were fought when the West Bank was under Arab sovereignty or that far more Arabs live in peace in Israel than the number of Jews who reside in fear on the West Bank.

All the while Europe shouts "Sharon this, Sharon that," but privately wonders, "Why should we have to insist on civilized behavior from Israel's neighbors, when the Jews are so few, their country so small, and their nation so young — without oil, terrorists, and millions of expatriates on our shores?"

Allow the burning of a synagogue in Paris or the toppling of a Jewish gravestone in Munich and you get a reasoned plea for tolerance from the local rabbi; clamp down on Islamic fundamentalists in Frankfurt or Marseilles and you may get a riot or bomb...

In short, the world knows that North Korea, Iran, and the fanatic regimes in the Middle East are time bombs that could ignite a catastrophe such as we have not seen since World War II. But much of the world also seems to think that the painful remedies for these tragedies on the horizon — principled deterrence in the here and now or perhaps even preemptive action when reasoned warnings fail — are far worse.

So they take the coward's way out and leave it to America: simultaneously blaming us for inaction in Liberia and for action in Iraq; sort of empathizing with us when we suffer 3,000 citizens murdered, but angry when we take steps to retaliate; complaining that they are asked to help clean up the mess in postwar Afghanistan and Iraq, yet relieved that they were never obligated to end the mess of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein in the first place.

The central task of this present administration must be to convince Americans to shoulder these thankless tasks that are so critical for both world peace and our own national security, especially when the immediate costs so often cloud the more abstract and long-term benefits. It is not easy when our best are wounded or killed for a cause so commonly mischaracterized. Federal budget deficits due to rising entitlements, waste, mismanagement, and assorted questionable programs are instead much more easily blamed on military costs and foreign aid...

In sum, Americans as a rule don't mind sacrificing to ensure a better world abroad. But they do care when there is so little psychological recompense for such engagement, and so much hypocrisy from Germany, France, and the Middle East. Seasoned diplomats would warn us that such are the wages of being the world's "hyperpower," and scoff at an emotional need for thanks in a tough world that operates on Realpolitik.

Maybe. But, as I gauge current American public opinion, there is a rising weariness of the insanity abroad, and it will only grow unless administration spokesmen habitually address — weekly, daily, even hourly — such exasperations and counter them by appealing to the innate American sense of idealism and generosity...

Most Americans, tragically so, do not find from 30-second film clips that the Iraqi people are all that sympathetic a lot, but rather — after the war, the looting, the suicide bombings, and the complaining — that they are not worth the billions of dollars and the lost lives. And it is precisely that innate unease with ingratitude that the Democrats and the press have tapped into, at last finding some resonance with the American people.

Emphasis added.

Really - read it all.

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