Monday, April 19, 2004


Victor Davis Hanson examines our tortured paradoxical reactions to the war...and points out that the enemy does too.

Run...don't walk.
Deep down we know that some sort of freedom is what most Iraqis want — and what Islamic extremists in and outside Iraq most fear. But we wish its creation to proceed flawlessly without loss of blood or treasure. And at all times we insist on gratitude from those we aid, who are humbled, perhaps even furious, because we are giving them precisely what they seek — but also what in the past they lacked the resources, skill, or courage to obtain on their own.

What a weird war we are in. The president of the United States gives a press conference to steel our will and endures mostly inane cross examination — at the very time the New York Times best-seller list has five of its top ten books alleging that he is a near criminal. Various disgruntled, passed-over or fired employees (Clarke and O'Neill), buffoonish provocateurs (Franken), and conspiracists (Phillips and Unger) all assure us in their pulp of everything from Bush family ties with Nazis to a First Family perennially plotting to get Americans killed for nothing other than cheap oil.

If that was not enough, a U.S. senator, with a reprehensible record of personal excess and abject immorality, now in his dotage damns the war in Iraq on moral grounds — even as young Marines seek to protect a nascent and tottering consensual government from thugs and killers. An ex-president who calibrated his campaign for a Nobel Prize by criticizing his successor in a time of war to the applause of foreign powers now steps forward to call for a more principled nation. Such are the moralists of our age.

Are we crazy? I think in fact we almost are. But the tragedy is that if we are paradoxical, self-incriminatory, and at each other's throats, our enemies most surely are not. They know precisely what they want from us — an Islamic world of the 8th century, parasitic on the resources and technology of the 21st, by which all the better to destroy a supposedly soft and bickering West. And if the present chaos here at home continues, they are apparently on the right track.

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