Thursday, July 24, 2003

Add To Your "Be Glad" List

Something it might not have occurred to you to be glad about: That you're not Daniel Pipes.

What must it be like to live with this mind?

Responding to this quote from Lee Harris, identified as "America's reigning philosopher of 9/11;"

"the policy debate in the United States has been primarily focused on a set of problems - radical Islam and the War on Terrorism, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

Pipes adds:

The same cannot be said of the threats emanating from the Muslim world. Al Qaeda destroys airplanes and buildings that it itself could not possibly build. The Palestinian Authority has failed in every field of endeavor except killing Israelis. Saddam Hussein's Iraq grew dangerous thanks to money showered on it by the West to purchase petroleum Iraqis themselves had neither located nor extracted.

How, despite their general incompetence, has this trio managed to guide the course of events as if they were powers in the traditional sense?

The cause of this anomaly, Harris replies, is that the West plays by a strict set of rules while permitting al Qaeda, the Palestinians and Saddam Hussein to play without rules. We restrain ourselves according to the standards of civilized conduct as refined over the centuries; they engage in maximal ruthlessness.

What to do, what to do.

For the West to reverse this process requires much rougher means than it prefers to use. Harris, author of a big-think book on this general subject coming out from the Free Press in early 2004, contends that Old Europe and most analysts have failed to fathom the imperative for a change. The Bush administration, however, has figured it out and in several ways has begun implementing an unapologetic and momentous break with past restraints:

Pre-empt: Knock out fantasist leaders (the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat) before they can do more damage.
Rehabilitate: Dismantle their polities, then reconstruct these along civilized lines.

Impose a double standard: Act on the premise that the U.S. government alone "is permitted to use force against other agents, who are not permitted to use force."

In brief, until those Harris calls "Islamic fantasists" play by the rules, Washington must be prepared to act like them, without rules.

This appeal for America to act less civilized will offend some; but it does offer a convincing explanation for the inner logic of America's tough new foreign policy.

True enough. But what really offends me is that this is the man whom President Bush has nominated to the Board of the United States Institute of Peace.

There's an online petition you won't want to sign urging his confirmation. Is it even worth the time to try organize some opposition to it? I doubt it. Bigger fish abound to those summertime fish fries.

Better to print up a gazillion copies of this little essay and pass them out to unsuspecting Americans everywhere.

TBogg has more, not much more, but he's funnier.