Posted by lex, on September 17, 2006
Victor David Hanson gets depressed thinking on Oriana Fallaci, the Pope, and the times we live in:
So, yes, we know the asymmetrical rules: a state run-paper in Cairo or the West Bank, a lunatic Iranian mullah, a grand mufti from this or that mosque, can all rail about infidels, “pigs and apes”, in language reminiscent of the Third Reich—and meet with approval in the Middle East and silence in the West. But for a Westerner, a Tony Blair, George Bush, or Pope Benedict to even hint that something has gone terribly wrong with modern Islam, is to endure immediate furor and worse. In short, no modern ideology, no religious sect of the present age demands so much of others, so little of itself.
In matters of the present war, I have given up on most of the neoconservatives, many of whom, following the perceived pulse of the battlefield, have either renounced their decade-long, pre-September11 rants to remove Saddam (despite the 140,000 brave souls still on the field of battle who took them at their word), or turned on the President on grounds that he is not waging the perfect fight and thus is not pursuing the good war. The Paleo-right is as frightening as is the lunatic Left. My old Democratic party is long dead, their jackals trying to tear apart the solitary and stumbling noble stag Joe Liebermann, the old center taken over by the Kerry and Soros billionaires, and the guilt-ridden academic, celebrity and media cadres.
So we really are left with very little in these pivotal times—the will of George Bush, of course, the Old Breed unchanged since Okinawa and the Bulge that still anchors the US military, the courage and skill of a very few brave writers like a Hitchens, Krauthammer, and the tireless and brilliant Mark Steyn, but very, very few others. No, this is an age in which we in the West make smug snuff movies about killing an American President, while the Taliban and the Islamists boast of assassinating the Pope.
It’s trite but true that it’s always darkest before the dawn. Kofi Annan visited the Middle East * and found their rulers – I do not say “leaders” – concerned that the Iraq war had been a “disaster” that had “destabilized” the region. Well, forgive me, but I am still working up to feeling sorry for the alarm of those who spent decades sowing dragon’s teeth abroad only to discover that some had fallen out of the basket and now take root at home.
The War on Terror was not real for the Saudi regime until al Qaeda struck at home, but now Bin Laden’s tendrils there are torn up root and branch. The government of Afghanistan, which once sponsored terrorists at home, hunts them down with NATO assistance. The democratically elected government of Iraq – read those words again and marvel at how quickly the unthinkable becomes commonplace – a government whose predecessor once sent $25,000 payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, fights for its own survival against our common foe, and their forces sacrifice still more in this fight than those who liberated them. Lebanon has kicked Syria to the door, and with their backs stiffened by augmented UN support may eventually get round to facing down Hezbollah. Libya has renounced its WMD programs, and paid compensation for previous crimes. The security services of Syria are apparently prepared to spend their lives in the defense of the US embassy against terror attacks. They may have done this out of duty or the goodness of their hearts, or it may have been because they want no more trouble than they already have.
Arab governments of Syria, Jordan and Egypt may well resent the fact that terror is no longer merely an export business, something that happens “over there,” but has a domestic component as well. Perhaps now they will do something about it, especially with the ancient Persian foe making noises in the East.
To acknowledge that things are not perfect should not prevent us from admitting that they could be very much worse. To every blow there is a reaction, for every attack a riposte. But for my own part, I am not quite ready to cry “Enough, no more!” and go back to the kind of stability we had before.
We know where that leads: We give you thanks, we will have none.
08-27-20 Link gone; no replacement found – Ed.