November 14, 2014

The liberal foreign policy game

As Vladimir Putin has marched troops into various parts of the Ukraine, we’ve watched several Obama administration officials, including the president himself, all say more-or-less what John Kerry said: "You just don’t, in the 21st century, behave in a 19th century fashion by invading another country on [a] completely trumped up pretext.”  Such statements, frankly, take my breath away.  It is one thing to have weak foreign policy – it’s another thing altogether to be in denial about how reality works.  Military might doesn’t just go away because the liberal intelligentsia have agreed that it’s old-fashioned and distasteful.  Putin is a realist.  He knows that Europe and America will wag their fingers at him, but nothing more.  In the end, Putin can do pretty much as he likes.  How much does he have to fear from a bunch of anti-militarist ideologues that don’t even believe that countries should have borders?  What’s the worst they might do?  Have a bunch of political science professors at UC Berkeley threaten to withhold an honorary degree?  Arrange a mild tongue lashing on NPR?  You and I have taken worse abuse than that from Democrats and lived – Putin probably figures he will too.  The Russian president is no brilliant statesman by historical standards – it’s just that his opposition has conceded in advance.
The administration’s response to militant Islam has been equally bizarre – more about the preservation of the Western liberal worldview than about the world itself.   If Putin is playing by 19th century rules, the Islamists draw their rules from the 7th.  The grizzly practice of cutting people’s heads off still works perfectly well.  The knives don’t fail to penetrate because it happens to be the 21st century.  To be fair, I haven’t actually heard the “You just don’t do that in the 21st century” phrase used in connection with militant Islam – but only because liberals can barely bring themselves to acknowledge that militant Islam even exists.  It is an assumption of the average liberal mind that any non-white person in the world ought to know instinctively that liberals are their friends.  If forced to acknowledge that some of them don’t know this, supremely egalitarian liberals show themselves capable of the most outrageous sort of ethnocentric arrogance.  They believe the liberal culture of the West is so perfect and so inherently invincible that no backward radical of color can possibly pose it any threat.  They close their eyes and launch a few missiles to appease a fearful public, just hoping that it will all, eventually, fade away so they can get back to the business of perfecting the world.  Liberals would like to censor conservatives – but no one even talks about the possibility of censoring the web sites of jihadists.  That, you know, would be intolerant.
Iran, I think, is a different matter than the rest of militant Islam.  In the first place, it’s Shiite – in the second place, it’s nuclear.  Even if you consider the position of the Iranians objectively, forgetting that they are a warped theocracy that might actually want to use the bomb, it is obvious that they would be crazy not to build it.  George Bush’s Axis of evil consisted of Iran, Iraq and North Korea.  The Iranian leaders only have to look at what happened to Iraq (which didn’t have the bomb) and at what didn’t happen to North Korea (which does have the bomb).  Does any sane person really think we are going to talk them out of that particular piece of national life insurance?  During the Iran-Iraq war, the Iranian regime was willing to throw a generation of young Iranians into battle untrained and practically unarmed.  Does any sane person really think the Iranian regime is going to be particularly sensitive to economic sanctions?  The bitter clerics that run Iran don’t seem to be starving, and neither do they seem very concerned about being a politically correct feature of the 21st century.  They may be theocratic despots – but they know how power works.  They know it isn’t all about “the messaging.”
Liberals in general, and the Obama administration in particular, find the nasty, competitive, unforgiving realm of international politics distasteful.  Their revulsion toward the military only underlines this.  The liberal model of international affairs is contemporary Europe, in which a small elite of unelected technocrats have worked steadily to make nation states – and elections – irrelevant.  The goal of the left is not world peace, but eventual world government.  They love that particular game so much, they are incapable of accepting that not everybody in the world wants to play.  Putin isn’t interested in being the European Union’s overgrown awkward cousin, and the Islamists aren’t interested in any game in which they cannot crush the decadent, satanic West.

November 4, 2014

Why liberals love to hate us

Strange as it may seen, conservatives are absolutely essential to liberals. We provide them with something that their ideology otherwise lacks: standards. Think about it. There is hardly anything that any non-conservative can do that a liberal is not obliged to express a feeling of high-minded tolerance toward. A few decades ago, the phrase “I don’t want to be judgmental” was so common it sounded like an echo. “I don’t want to be judgmental” just means – “I don’t want to have standards.” I have seen high-minded liberals entertain the idea that black-on-black violence is just a normal feature of black culture. One mustn’t be judgmental. The same people who advocated for women’s rights forty years ago now turn a blind eye toward the treatment of women in Muslim countries. One mustn’t be judgmental. In the next few decades, if the trend continues, bestiality and pedophilia will probably past the one-mustn’t-be-judgmental anti-standard. We conservatives, of all the human beings on earth, are the only ones that liberals can hate with gusto – without shame. What we believe, they can freely despise. What we are for, they can oppose with righteous rage. We are, in fact, the only thing that gives their gelatinous anti-culture any shape.

Liberals aren’t necessarily anti-Christian. If your Christian church ordains gay clergy, it will probably pass the non-judgmental standard. Likewise, liberals are not opposed to conspicuous wealth. The Kennedy’s were certainly not poor, and neither is Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or Oprah for that matter. It is all about what you say with liberals, not about what you do. It’s about getting the narrative right. However, if you’re Christian – and your belief includes the idea that certain things might actually be wrong, you will be branded a religious bigot and a hater. If you’re wealthy, and you don’t publically align yourself with the usual liberal slogans, you will be vilified as a member of the evil 1%. Liberalism, which was once, at least in theory, an enlightened movement of reform, has long ago accomplished those reforms and now lives on as a kind of mass institution for the destruction of any sort of social stability. You and I, who believe that certain things are right and certain things are wrong, are impediments in the path of that juggernaut.

The whole liberal obsession with racism is fascinating in itself. I’ve been to quite a few Tea Party events and have yet to hear even one racist remark. Somehow though, the liberal media managed to find a couple of racist signs at one big rally in Washington DC. Practically at the snap of their fingers, forty years of improving race relations were thrown out the window to stir up the base. The fictitious “Republican War on Women” reflects pretty much the same strategy. Essentially, they are taking a generation of young people, raised on a steady diet of ideology in our public schools, and re-running the 1960’s and 70’s for them. We don’t always even get the privilege of being hated for what we believe – sometimes we are just blank canvases for them to paint incriminating symbols on. It is frustrating, heartbreaking, and usually pointless to try to reason with people who have condemned you before you even open your mouth. I personally have gotten tired of trying. Being called a racist, sexist, homophobe or islamophobe doesn’t really hurt me when I’m being called those things by people whose goal amounts to the destruction of my country.

I don’t really worry about the left eventually having things entirely their way. What I do worry about is what will happen in the wake of their inevitable failure. A country populated by people who hate their own heritage, their own traditions, and their own symbols is something rather new in the world – but it isn’t an experiment whose outcome is very difficult to predict. Consider ISIS. The America of the 1940's or 50's would have crushed ISIS in the time it took the Obama administration to compose a dishonest press release. We live in a society paralyzed by political correctness, bureaucratic inertia, and a smothering blanket of liberal self-loathing. In the 1950's, we built most of the interstate highway system in under a decade. Now, the environmental impact study for a single pipeline can take longer than that. I was disgusted, a few years ago, that our leaders were reluctant to deploy troops along the Mexican border on the grounds that it might cause Latinos on both sides of the border offense. They now apparently feel that even having a border is an offense. A country that hates its history, its defenders, and believes that its founding institutions aren’t worth protecting cannot long exist. I do not worry about living in a liberal utopia. I worry about living in just another petty third world state – a peon, without freedom, and without a meaningful say in my own future. An alien in the country I was born in.

Liberals have no country. They define themselves solely by despising ours. If every conservative in America were to vanish without a trace tomorrow, liberals would have to re-invent us out of the most conservative members of their own ranks. All reform movements need someone to oppose. A movement which sets itself the task of reforming every aspect of people’s lives is a monster that can never be satiated. It will, sooner or later, leave the public yearning for someone, even a dictator, to end the chaos. That is what I fear.

Ebola and the liberal mind

I work and live among conservatives. Broadly speaking, I am a conservative, though personally I try to avoid labels. It is obvious to me, in speaking to conservative coworkers and friends, that they often find the liberal mind incomprehensible. They watch some snippet from a White House press conference, or see some liberal talking head on a news show – and they simply can’t believe what they are hearing. Having spent more than half of my life on the left, I am less confused – though sometimes no less amazed. Let me see if I can throw a little light upon the darkness of their response to the ebola crisis for my new brethren.

Conservatives and liberals see the ebola epidemic very differently. Most conservatives believe that the first duty of government is to protect its citizens from external threats, so either an executive order or an act of congress should stop airline flights from the afflicted areas of west Africa immediately. Or, alternatively, people whose flights originated in west Africa should be quarantined for the incubation period of the disease – about three weeks. Liberals, on the other hand, are generally opposed to stopping the flights and some are even nervous about the idea of passenger quarantine. Considering that we are talking about an extremely lethal disease that has never reached pandemic levels before, against which we have no immunity and no available vaccine or treatment, their position seems reckless – to say the least. I believe it is reckless, but it is not random, and it is not inconsistent with major aspects of the liberal worldview.

The first thing one needs to understand is that the liberal worldview is an internationalist one. Where a conservative loves his or her country, the leftist tends to consider national self-interest a dirty, backward idea. We are all just people in one big potentially happy global village, as the liberal sees it. If a liberal is committed to the idea that patriotism and borders are backward notions we need to discard, then the person dying in Liberia has as much right to access American healthcare as any US citizen. The idea of citizenship itself is rather suspect for the liberal mind. To be a citizen of the United States is to be granted special rights and privileges. To the liberal, special rights and privileges are things that should be apportioned to minorities to redress the injustices of history, but should not be granted on the basis of mere citizenship. Their ideal is a sort of global equality of all persons under an enlightened leadership of experts with appropriate credentials. To spare the US its share of a plague seems unfair to a liberal, at least at this stage – when none of his neighbors have actually died from the disease.

A second reason liberals tend to oppose a stoppage of travel or a quarantine is that both measures, in this case, would burden non-whites almost exclusively. True racism is a pretty ugly thing, but the bar required to raise a charge of racism these days is basically to make any non-white person feel bad. At this moment of our history, making a non-white person feel bad is the worst thing that a government could conceivably do. It preempts discussion. It cannot be submitted to any sort of benefit-risk analysis. Functionally, we have reached the point where risking the lives of 300 million Americans (including the 80 million non-whites) is more acceptable to many than inconveniencing a few thousand west African travelers. We aren’t talking about genocide here, or even about something as harsh as Japanese internment in WW2. We are talking about a 3-week quarantine for a few thousand people. But, for the left, it runs against a core belief. It’s just unthinkable.

The problem of the left has never been a shortage of high and noble aspirations. Their problem has usually been one of measuring their ideals against the realities of the world. If it sounds nice – it is nice. Unfortunately, when principle preempts reality, the path to their utopian vision detours headlong into the abyss. With ebola, we have the starkest of all possible examples. It is stunning to watch White House and CDC spokesmen tell us not to worry – ebola will never come here. And then when it arrived – don’t worry, it will never spread. And now, as we have more cases – brace yourselves, we are going to have to consider our strategy. They do not seem to grasp that the disease will not be diverted by getting the messaging just right.

In the end, conservatives have a notion of what the world they would like to hold on to looks like. That notion involves, among other things, keeping a set of national borders around a fairly varied group of people who share enough common values to be called “citizens”. At an even more basic level, it involves themselves and their children remaining alive. Liberals, on the other hand, are wedded to the idea that change will almost always make things better. They believe that the prosperity and relative safety they have enjoyed is a condition of nature – not a hard-won product of vigilance and difficult decisions. They cannot really conceive of a threat that cannot be placated with a nice apology or suppressed with a new law.