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July 04, 2006

American Superman

Power not only corrupts, the article notes, it exhausts as well:

A small but growing number of ideologues on both sides of the political aisle believe that America is simply too powerful. Some of these ideologues will say so directly; they distrust America, or even detest its culture for being fascistic and/or decadent, and they believe that the world will be a better place if America's prominence diminishes. Others strenuously deny that they want to reduce America's power, but their preferred policies achieve just that goal. If the Democratic response to the war on terror has seemed strangely disjointed, it is because many Democrats do not feel free to say what they truly believe: that America would be a kinder, richer, and safer nation if it relinquished a significant portion of its economic, military, and cultural might. Such a position isn't contemptible, but it is wrong and contrary to the beliefs of most Americans.


So Democrats don't speak it aloud. Instead, they give us policies that undermine American power in the name of American power: an Iraqi policy that favors disengagement over success; a reactive anti-terrorist policy that gives our enemies the permanent advantage of the offensive; and an excessive reliance on international institutions whose members crave nothing more than seizing power and influence in those areas from which America withdraws. The Democrats will never improve their position in national politics until they resolve the obvious conflict between their rhetoric and their actual preferences.

That's what I find galling. The liberals have found that they cannot restrain The American Monster internally, through voting, so they propose all sorts of external checks on our power -- subservience to the UN, adherence to treaties we never signed, the invocation of foreign and international law as binding on the US -- to weaken us.

It's one thing to want an America which is mighty but modest. Reagan and Bush could agree with that principle (in a different era, though).

But liberals, having failed to impose their conception of modesty upon America, now seek the second-best option of making her no longer mighty.

Once in a while a liberal will let the mask slip and expressly admit this. They would like to see a defeat in Iraq, not just as a repudiation on Bush, but as a check against further American interventions. A chastened, defeated America is an America which is Safe For The World.

Once again, one of the most honest, and most abhorrent, quotes from a liberal in recent memory. Gary Kamiya, writing in Salon, about his hopes for an American defeat in the Iraq War, penned shortly after the fall of Baghdad:

I have a confession: I have at times, as the war has unfolded, secretly wished for things to go wrong. Wished for the Iraqis to be more nationalistic, to resist longer. Wished for the Arab world to rise up in rage. Wished for all the things we feared would happen. I'm not alone: A number of serious, intelligent, morally sensitive people who oppose the war have told me they have had identical feelings. Some of this is merely the result of pettiness--ignoble resentment, partisan hackdom, the desire to be proved right and to prove the likes of Rumsfeld wrong, irritation with the sanitizing, myth-making American media. That part of it I feel guilty about, and disavow. But some of it is something trickier: It's a kind of moral bet-hedging, based on a pessimism not easy to discount, in which one's head and one's heart are at odds.

Many antiwar commentators have argued that once the war started, even those who oppose it must now wish for the quickest, least-bloody victory followed by the maximum possible liberation of the Iraqi people. But there is one argument against this: What if you are convinced that an easy victory will ultimately result in a larger moral negative--four more years of Bush, for example, with attendant disastrous policies, or the betrayal of the Palestinians to eternal occupation, or more imperialist meddling in the Middle East or elsewhere?

Wishing for things to go wrong is the logical corollary of the postulate that the better things go for Bush, the worse they will go for America and the rest of the world.

If liberals can't defeat America on the homefront, they'll just have to assist external rivals (France) and external enemies (Al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents) in accomplishing the mission they're too feckless and weak to do themselves.



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posted by Ace at 02:40 PM

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