Friday, August 04, 2006

Living in the 1930's

Posted by Jabawacefti

Victor Davis Hanson makes the comparison:

When I used to read about the 1930s — the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany, the appeasement in France and Britain, the murderous duplicity of the Soviet Union, and the racist Japanese murdering in China — I never could quite figure out why, during those bleak years, Western Europeans and those in the United States did not speak out and condemn the growing madness, if only to defend the millennia-long promise of Western liberalism.

Of course, the trauma of the Great War was all too fresh, and the utopian hopes for the League of Nations were not yet dashed. The Great Depression made the thought of rearmament seem absurd. The connivances of Stalin with Hitler — both satanic, yet sometimes in alliance, sometimes not — could confuse political judgments.

But nevertheless it is still surreal to reread the fantasies of Chamberlain, Daladier, and Pope Pius, or the stump speeches by Charles Lindbergh (“Their [the Jews’] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government”) or Father Coughlin (“Many people are beginning to wonder whom they should fear most — the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination.”) — and baffling to consider that such men ever had any influence.

Not any longer.


At 10:17 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

When the comparison is made in an intelligent manner, as it is here, I find it far easier to swallow. there's a passion in Hansen's words that's easy to respond to, and a clear logic that I find much more persuasive than the usual "Bush = Churchill" hackery.

I continue to believe, however, the the threat is one that transcends regions, or boundaries.

The religious extremism that powers the middle-eastern crisis is the same extremism that powers the continuous abuse of women in Utah, or of Chinese Falun Gong activists, or of any group that doesn't agree to live by another's religious (or communist and thus anti-religious) law.

The mistake I believe we are making is in assuming that by engaging in a prolonged conflict within a given area that we will eradicate the problem at hand.

In a world where 9/11 occured thanks to bad intel, terrible security, a handful of radicals and some box-cutters, the real issue (in my humble, admittedly liberal eyes) is the presence of a philosophy that motivates small, empowered groups to create large, atrocious acts.

While I eagerly concede that NO ONE other than Nazis or fellow extremists wants to see a region become violent with a particular ideology, it remains very unclear to me how the regions Hansen refers to differ in any substantial way from China, North Korea, parts of our America, and pretty much every portion of the world.

Why is THIS the region we need to pacify? Is it possible to accomplish this?

I don't honestly have a reason for the first question, except for the humanitarian one I'd use about any of the above-listed regions: I don't want people to suffer under oppression.

As for the second question, it might be possible, if we were to convince a now-skeptical world of America's good intentions. But we've squandered enormous capital, political and actual, on Iraq, which is a failure in both original goals as well as altered and restated goals.

So, how do we convince the world of this threat?

And what do we do about China/North Korea/fundamentalist American terrorists (who've taken more American lives over history than any middle-eastern ones) in the meantime?

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Well, the short answer to your question, why is THIS the region we need to pacify, is simply, because it is seen as the greatest growing threat to the United States.

What goes into threat analysis is an entire post in its own right (at least), and hardly an exact science. If I could venture a guess, I'd say it would include, amongst other things: (1) military capability, including proximity to reaching the capability of employing weapons of mass destruction; (2) ideological aggresiveness; (3) the aggressiveness of a threat's leaders; (4) whether a group or groups has sufficient support to organize; (5) whether a group or groups is supported by (or actually is) a sovereign nation/state; (6) the growth of a group or groups; (7) the extent to which a group or groups military capabilities are growing or shrinking; (8) the extent to which a group or groups are gathering support, ideologically, militarily, or financially; (9) the extent to which a group or groups has a global capability; (10) the size of the group; and so forth. I can think of at least 10 more factors off the top of my head that would factor into a comparative threat analysis.

But it's not nearly so simple as saying. Group A and Group B have the capability of using weapons of mass destruction, attack them all. You take each threat, analyze its local, regional, and global impact, and deal with each one trying to reduce or eliminate that threat. This sort of thing obviously does not lend itself to one easy and simple explanation, which is most likely why the public often does not understand why the Government acts like A here, B there, and C over there for seemingly similar threats.

It's also why George Bush is uniquely ill equipped to describe what is going on. Because people, and seemingly including yourself, are baffled by what is going on. Tony Blair, whatever his relative merits and detriments are, is far better at providing a synthesized analysis of the entire spectrum of threats faced.


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