Jewish World Review May 8, 2003 / 6 Iyar, 5763
The only intellectual force in Western
history to gain moral superiority by being wrong
In September 2002, the Bush administration
released a 31-page strategy statement that took cognizance of the new type
of international conflict facing the civilized powers. It was this national
strategy statement that got us to where we are today with two rogue nations,
Taliban Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, disarmed and other rogue
nations feeling the heat. Terrorists everywhere have sobered up a bit.
The Truman administration's policy of "Containment," proclaimed
in 1947 and meant to contain the Soviet Union and its aggressive puppets,
was replaced by the Bush administration in 2002 with a policy of
"Pre-emption," for after September 2001 the administration's policy planners
had noticed that "America is now threatened less by conquering states than
we are by failing ones." Coming to the point, the new national strategy
statement noted that, "The gravest danger our nation faces lies at the
crossroads of (religious) radicalism and technology." Thus in such a world,
"We cannot let our enemies strike first."
The Truman administration's 1947 policy of "Containment" was
opposed by much of the American left for decades, and a whole school of
egghead thought rose up complaining that it was the Truman administration
that had made Soviet communism hostile to America, not Stalin or communist
ideology. Now, of course, that which passes for the American left today is
carping that American recklessness and self-indulgence have set the
terrorists against us.
Susan Sontag, the literary egotist, adumbrated the complaint
immediately after Sept. 11, when in The New Yorker she sermonized: "The
disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality (!) and the
self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public
figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to
follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize
the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this (the suicide attacks on
the Twin Towers and the Pentagon) was not a 'cowardly' attack on
'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack
on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of
specific American alliances and actions?"
Since Sontag's bull, the chorus from the left has grown against
"Pre-emption" and led to many very stupid statements about the futility of
opposing terrorism and rogue state's with military force. A memorable
example came from Professor James Galbraith in the American Prospect just a
few days into our forces' dance through Iraq, in which he pronounced the war
practically lost and suggested that we salvage our "disastrous position" and
"accept a cease-fire, which would lead to the withdrawal of coalition forces
under safe conduct." Safe conduct from whom -- the Iraqi army then on the
The left's complaints against America -- its foreign policy, its
economy, its culture -- have expanded steadily for five decades. With the
presidential campaign of Sen. George McGovern in 1972, the left's influence
has suffused much of the Democratic Party and many cultural institutions. In
fact, many of the Democrats seeking the presidential nomination at this very
hour intone the left's complaints against American culture and now even in
this hour of vindication Bush's policy of "Pre-emption."
This colossal record of error makes one wonder. The left has
been wrong for so long and about so much. Remember in the 1980s and 1990s
the widespread claim on the left about how as an economic power America was
kaput? Remember the claptrap about how we were running out of resources?
Read the intellectually indispensable Paul Krugman in his New York Times
column. He spouts this stuff even now.
The left has been wrong for so long that no knowledgeable
observer even expects its pontificators to be right. I do not believe many
members of the left expect to be right. Yet after all these decades of
erroneous pronouncements, the American left remains both intellectually and
morally superior to you and me.
The American left is the only intellectual force in Western
history to gain moral superiority by being wrong. In world history, I can
think of only one other movement that has gained moral and intellectual
superiority in this way, the mullahs of Islamic fundamentalism.
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JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Creators Syndicate