Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Who Wants Some Freedom?

Posted by Jabawacefti

According to Rich Lowry, not necessarily everyone (at least not yet):

Bush’s emphasis on the inherent hunger for freedom is powerful. It clothes his foreign policy in an undeniable idealism. It puts his liberal opponents in a tight spot, because it is awkward for them to object to the kind of sweeping universalism they have always embraced. It might be simplistic, but that is often an advantage in political communication.

The problem with Bush’s freedom rhetoric is that it appears to not be true. Hezbollah and Hamas, and the populations that support them, desire the destruction of Israel above all, and are willing to endure warfare and dysfunctional societies to bring it about. The Sunni insurgents in Iraq want power more than anything else, and are willing to kill and maim to gain it. The Shia militias, in turn, desire revenge against the Sunni.

All around the chaotic and violent Middle East, human hearts are yearning for many things, but freedom isn’t high on the list.


At 10:24 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

In other news:

The sun is hot.

Why won't anyone listen to us?

Is it that we're speaking in code? I'm certainly not trying to. Look back over the history of this blog and you'll see several instances (one fairly recent, if memory serves) where I've pointed out bluntly that one of the difficulties with this vaugely-defined campaign is that many people do not want the sort of freedom we offer.

This is why liberals like myself continue to advocate for increased understanding of the extremist mindset, and of the global "temperature" in general. It's not because we're "weak," or "soft," or bent on "appeasement." It's because people outside of America think differently than we do, and we ignore that at our peril.

In fact, people inside America have the same problem. I keep bringing up Mormons because it's an apt comparison. Look at the history and philosophy of their church (not the "reformed" church, but the more fundamentalist sect) and you'll see a society that actively flouts American law despite taking copious advantage of our social programs and religious protections.

These complications present real, tangible, tackleable problems that we need to seriously address. Painting this ideological struggle as a black and white/us vs. them war is not a good idea - not because I'm too much of a pussy to go to war, but because the forced sowing of democracy is a problematic and flawed plan.

Idealism aside, we need to be pragmatic, some might argue ruthlessly so, in deciding what to engage in, and what not to engage in. We simply do not have the resources, the man power, or the collective national will to mount an ongoing campaign against an entity whose most violent aspect isn't tangible at all - it's an idea.

We should be doing two things, and we should have been doing them from the beginning: going in dirty, covert, and hard, and using active propaganda to win over the general populace while attempting publicly aggressive diplomacy.

By targeting ONLY the heads of terrorist organizations and their identified ranks, by utilizing a global network of informants, by allowing gays to continue to translate Arabic for us, we will eliminate the ideological "heads of household" that unify these extremists.

By utilizing the propaganda of democracy - by reporting the actual atrocities committed by extremists and their allies, and by urging the populace to take a stand, we win not physical territory, but the minds of the people, who are the cannon fodder for the heads of household.

By attempting aggressive public diplomacy - of a kind that does not willfully starve civilians, we will continue to put forth a righteous face for the world.

We don't need to be approaching this problem in such a singular way. Is that crazy-talk?

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

There is very little in that post I disagree with. In the vein of adding something (what else is the token Conservative good for?), I would simply say that it should also be a long term goal and pratical imperative (if not a moral imperative) to advance Democratic and liberal institutions worldwide. Your suggestions on how to do so seem to me completely reasonable.

The bottom line is, I think we're in a Catch 22 for the entire Middle East. Damned if we do. Damned if we don't.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

For me the question is, do we continue to muck about there in the hopes that we accomplish something, or do we withdraw and fortify our own defenses?

Practically speaking, I think the latter makes more sense. Not an immediate withdrawal, because we have people depending on us for water and power right now, but a long-term trickle down until we've gone skeleton-crew.

Attempting to reshape that region through force is disastrous for us as a country, even if we're only talking resources and funds.

By withdrawing and shifting to somethign approximating the above generalized ideas, we'll reduce tensions in the region, we'll reduce our massive over-spending, we'll shift focus back to where it belongs - namely, taking out the real individual threats and not at the expense of the populace or our global credibility.

It makes so much sense to me.

And I agree absolutely that attempting to advance democratic and liberal institutions is something we should be doing. We should be encouraging these places to change, not forcing them to do so.

I'm actually very relieved that you agree (with my first post). And considering that you're one of two political posters here, I wouldn't call you the "token" anything. I would, however, love to begin referring to you as Sir Jabs, Knight of the Realm.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Sir Jabs, Knight of the Realm. I like it.

I think after Iraq there is going to be a real desire to hide behind Fortress America. And after Iraq, it is hard not to see a certain wisdom in that. Particularly after watching 100,000 Iraqis protest and march in favor of Hezbollah.

I think that there needs to be a balance between retreating to our shores that are increasingly hard to protect and aggressively taking out perceived (and real) threats.

Where that balance lies, God only knows. But it feels like there is a certain undeniable inevitability that things are going to get much worse before they get better. No matter what we do.

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

As the techie brains part of this triumvirate I gotta say that I wish I could form the kinds of cogent arguments that you guys do on a daily basis. So yeah, no one's a token around here. And if he's Sir Jabs can I be the court jester?

At 8:38 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Clearly you're our sorcerer, Scott.

Your "technology" frightens and confuses me. I accuse you of witchcraft!

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Oooooh, I can dig on that. Scott the Great and Powerful.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Jabs- I'd humbly submit that finding a balance between "fortress America" and more altruistic goals is something we as a nation are constantly forced to do.

We're doing it now, in terms of how we're handling the mid-east vs. how we're handling, say, North Korea. As you've pointed out, it would be foolish to engage in outright warfare with Kim Jong Il.

There's something to be said for protecting your home over protecting the neighborhood. Sure, I like my neighbors, but if forced to choose, I'll pick my family first any day of the week.

I'd like to think that by diversifying our response to terrorism and despotism, that we'll effectively straddle the line between protecting national interests and being the democratic watchdog/instigator.

Scott- Your mind powers will not work on me. You are a witch, and will be floated like one.


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