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  • Peace & Its Opponents

    Posted by Ginny on October 9th, 2005 (All posts by )

    Instapundit notes in his usual laconic way, “Peace is not the answer.” Clearly those who oppose war oppose peace, at least non-violence, harmony, freedom. He offers a series of pundits’ remarks.

    The most detailed is William Shawcross:

    Zarqawi has also declared that if he is victorious, he will use Iraq as a base to drag down other regional governments and to mount attacks on the United States. Osama bin Laden has said that “the Third World War is raging in Iraq. The whole world is watching this war.” All of which makes the antiwar opposition in the U.S. and Europe remarkably shortsighted and self-indulgent. We in the West have a vital stake in delivering on our promises and ensuring that terrorism does not move on to other victims, with even greater bloodlust.

    Barone is insightful, as usual; he takes as his subject Bush’s speech. He does, however, conclude with bitter surprise at the anti-war left’s hard-boiled attitude toward suffering. Vodkapundit is not surprised: just one more country to a long catalog.

    In the New York Post, Amir Taheri discusses the constitution, admitting that women do not have rights we Westerners might expect; his pragmatism is not sloppy or cold-hearted, it seems to arise from common sense: “On such issues of personal life, the best course is not to pit the state against religion, while making it clear that the state will not tolerate the unjust treatment of any citizen against his or her will.” The constitution, he argues, is what is. That is, however, much more likely to lead to harmony than an unaccepted ideal – or a western one thrust upon another culture.

    The Iraqi draft is not ideal. It won’t turn Iraq into the Switzerland of the Middle East overnight. It includes articles that one could not accept without holding one’s nose. But the fact remains that this is still the most democratic constitution offered to any Muslim nation so far.

    The quite interesting Q&A this week was also full of detail and pragmatism. Lamb interviewed Pamela Hess, the UPI Defense Correspondent. This was one of the most interesting and experience-filled discussions of Iraq from someone trying (and she suggests vainly) to put together what is going on in Iraq; she brings out that great old story of the 6 wise blind men & the elephant. By now that allusion would seem worn thin – but she seems right in using it.

    Lee Harris is consistently critical of that same anti-war vision; he sees ideals arising from (trying to explain) what works. He concludes his Civilization and its Enemies with an argument that “The civilization that the United States is now called upon to defend is not America’s or even the West’s; it is the civilization created by all men and women, everywhere on the planet, who have worked to make the actual community around them less addicted to violence, more open, more tolerant, more trusting.” He sees this as a battle against “an enemy whose origin goes back to the dawn of history, and indeed, the enemy that began the whole bloody and relentless cycle of violence and war, the eternal gang of ruthless men.” His argument throughout contrasts tribalism with the “team.” Tolerance, order, dialogue – these only arise when what he describes as the team has superseded what he calls the family. (Clearly he means the tribal here; the nuclear family as we know it is the subject of extraordinary praise–and I believe understanding–in a recent essay of his.) He sees as potential cracks in American strength its intellectuals’ “pursuit of abstract utopias and fantasy ideologies”–no less fantastic than the ideology of the terrorists, perhaps. But another problem has been “the collective tendency of civilized men and women to forgetfulness.” (216-218). We forget how much work it was, how much we had to go through before the ideas that define our society – and make it peaceful, productive, harmonious – could even be thought, let alone defined and set up as ideals. He makes us pause – that lonely couple demonstrating in Tennessee has, I suspect, not thought how such sturdy pragmatic ideas as duty & tolerance, the team & rule by law had to arise from the hard work (and violent battles) of our forefathers.

    The terrorists have made some of us stop and ask ourselves: what is it about our civilization, rule of law, tolerance that is worth defending? How and why did we come to value what we do? And, so, how did we come to think the way we do? Perhaps that recognition, that sense ideas arise from the real is not unlike that tug toward pragmatism that followed the Civil War (and brought us the rich literature of realism) and the First World War (and brought us Hemingway).