Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The General Begins

"Hope is making a comeback, and let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change". . . Michelle Obama has lived her adult life -- Princeton, Harvard Law, a top law firm, a $342,000-a-year job doing community relations for the University of Chicago hospital system –- [in the American elite]. As Samuel Huntington has pointed out, people in this stratum tend to have transnational attitudes -- all nations are morally equal, except maybe for ours, which is worse.

--Michael Barone, 2/23/08

I owe the title of this submission to Michael Barone. Barone is a conservative, co-editor of the Almanac of American Politics, and one of the best students of national politics. Obama is very likely to be our next president. Barone senses what’s wrong with that. Obama and his supporters reject, with emphasis, American exceptionalism, while millions of us believe “exceptionalism” defines the America we know. Without America in our view, the 20th century would have turned out much worse.

And in the 21st century? Henry Kissinger, in an interview with Der Spiegel, cut to the chase when he said, “it is obvious that the United States cannot permanently do all the fighting for Western interests by itself. So, two conclusions are possible: Either there are no Western interests in [opposing radical Islam] and we don't fight. Or there are vital Western interests in [such opposition] and we have to fight.” That means Americans and Europeans. But without American leadership, how likely is Europe to join up?

After Iraq, most of our national elite has declined to lead the world into battle with radical Islam. Opposition begins with the media. So it was hardly surprising that 24 hours after John McCain de facto claimed the GOP nomination last Tuesday, the New York Times placed an above the fold front page 3,000 word off-lead in its two upper left-hand columns, with bylines from four reporters, suggesting McCain had an affair with a telecommunications lobbyist nine years ago. According to the conservative Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes, here’s why the Times’ attack on McCain was an outrage:

• The story was almost entirely attributed to "people involved in the campaign" speaking "on the condition of anonymity." The Times had only one former McCain adviser who would speak for the record, and his comment did not speak to the alleged affair. Both McCain and the lobbyist have denied any romantic relationship.

Times executive editor Bill Keller admitted he was “surprised by how lopsided the opinion was against our decision [to publish] with readers who described themselves as independents and Democrats joining Republicans in defending Mr. McCain from what they saw as a cheap shot."

• If you don’t think the Times is out to get the GOP nominee-to-be, recall how the newspaper, beginning on October 25, 2004, ran 16 articles and opinion pieces about looting at the al Qaqaa munitions facility in Iraq. The Times dismissed suggestions that its attention to the issue was politically motivated. But, as National Review's Byron York asked later: "Why was the Al Qaqaa story so important in the eight days leading up to the election that it merited two stories per day, and so unimportant after the election that it has not merited any stories at all?"


Coffee Person said...

How is fighting in Iraq opposition to radical Islam? The Baath Party – of which Hussein was the Iraqi leader – holds a pan-Arab nationalist ideology. Radical Islamists on both sides of their internal debate – Shi'ite Islamic Republic types such as the ones in Lebanon or Persia and Sunni radicals like Osama bin Laden - are opposed to Arab nationalism. Invading Iraq by no means constituted leading the fight against radical Islam. that would have been like invading Franco's Spain and calling it a fight against Soviet communism. Such propositions are disingenuous at the best.

Talk about fighting for Western interests against Islamists has deep flaws. This kind of attitude is what is holding conservatives back from actually proposing core conservative ideals - the just rule of law, gradualism, and prudence - to the American public. Conservatives are too busy proclaiming unending war on an abstract noun.

Galen Fox said...

You overstate the differences between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Saddam, like Osama, saw himself as the leading Sunni opponent of U.S.-Israeli encroachment into the Arab world. Following Saddam’s Hitler-like invasion of Kuwait, the U.S. defeated Saddam in 1991 and rendered him a crippled figure. But Saddam was still capable of using oil money to finance a comeback. Meanwhile, Osama replaced Saddam after 9.11 as the West’s most significant Islamic threat. When we defeated the Taliban in late 2001 and drove Osama into Pakistan, Saddam and his oil wealth again became the West’s chief Islamic threat. We chose to not just wait for Saddam and Osama to combine forces, still financed by oil wealth, to attack the U.S. once more, this time from “the base” in Iraq.

While the word “conservative” has different meanings, most U.S. conservatives believe we must help defend our country against the very real threat of radical Islam.