Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not optional, Chapter TWo

That's me, the once-a-month blogger... I'm burning the candle at both ends and at various places along its length, so this is the best I can do right now. But it's certainly got to be time to return to Mark Steyn.

When last we spoke of Mr. Steyn, the subject was the out-populating of western pluralist liberals such as myself by adamantly non-pluralist illiberal groups. Chapter Two, entitled "Going...Going....Gone," Steyn's argument is that to believe with all your might that the unassimilated and fertile young will one day take up their (ahem) cross and support you in your age is to ignore the obvious. The Spanish election results in March 2003 clearly marked the Spanish populace's position: as Steyn puts it, "We apologize for catching your eye." That Theo van Gogh could be brutally murdered in the street and the outcry concerning the culturally insensitive subjects of his movie-making could actually be used, if not to justify, then at least to rationalize the manner of his death - farce. Let me quote a paragraph in its entirety:

In June 2006, a fifty-four-year-old Flemish train conductor called Guido Demoor got on the number 23 bus in Antwerp to go to work. Six - what's that word again? - "youths" boarded the bus and commenced intimidating the other riders. There were some forty passengers aboard. But the "youths" were youthful and the other passengers less so. Nonetheless, Mr. Demoor asked the lads to cut it out and so they turned on him, thumping and kicking him. Of those forty other passengers, none intervened to help the man under attack. Instead, at the next stop, thirty of the forty scrammed, leaving Mr. Demoor to be beaten to death. Three "youths" were arrested, and proved to be - quelle surprise! - of Moroccan origin. The ringleader escaped and, despite police assurances of complete confidentiality, of those forty passengers only four came forward to speak to investigators. "You see what happens if you intervene," a fellow rail worker told the Belgian newspaper De Morgen. "If Guido had not opened his mouth he would still be alive."

Wait - I've got to include two more sentences:

No, he wouldn't. He would be as dead as those forty passengers are, as the Belgian state is, keeping his head down, trying not to make eye contact, cowering behind his newspaper in the corner seat and hoping just to be left alone.

The so-inclined reader will no doubt glom onto that first paragraph as "further" "evidence" of racism by a non-voting Rethug. But that's not it at all. The point Steyn makes is that "youths" are young; their victims, or their neighbors if they're just ordinary "youths" rather than violent criminals, are older. As he notes, the ten percent of France that is Muslim is significantly skewed younger (more like 45% of the under-twenty crowd in the major cities), which makes cultural assimilation absolutely vital to the future of French society as it is generally understood. Let me say it another way, to be utterly clear: I don't give a hoot whether 45%, or 65%, of all of France visits a mosque rather than a church or synagogue (or, more likely, a café), and their country of origin is even less important, provided that that 45% (or 65%) buys into the kernel of Western civilization that makes us liberal and pluralist: individual, natural rights that are only affirmed, not granted, by government.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

For the love of Pete...

So Instapundit steered me to this piece in The New Republic. I can't figure out how to comment on it directly, which it deserves - and which its commenters deserve even more so - so I'm a-blogging instead. (And America Alone languishes on the bedside table, because blogging on it takes more thought and time.)

Saith author Michael Crowley,
What do the Democrats do if--yes: if, if, if--the surge appears to have succeeded? (Or at least seems, to voters, to have succeeded: I realize the tribal shift in Anbar, for instance, wasn't imposed by US troops--although my correspondent friend said surge forces did enable us to exploit Sunni tribal cooperation and root out al Qaeda.) Indeed, if Iraq somehow stabilizes and even incrementally improves, doesn't that affect the presidential campaign in important and unpredictable ways? Obviously it's almost impossible to concieve of an outcome in Iraq that any reasonable person could call "victory." Democrats will resonably argue that the adventure wasn't worth the cost in lives and dollars. But the notion that Bush's patience really did save Iraq from unmitigated humanitarian and strategic catastrophe might be a powerful one. Expectations have been lowered to such an extent over the past several months that any glimmer of hope is a godsend for Republicans.

First point: who cares whether "the surge" was the proximate cause of success, if we and the Iraqis do achieve lasting success? Overlapping a troop rotation or two ("the surge") was and is the necessary factor for improving security at a critical time; most of the heavy lifting is up to the Iraqis now, with spotting and assists from us and our allies. As a guy named Reagan once tried to remind us, credit is a whole lot less important than results.

That being said, the "important and unpredictable ways" in which the 2008 elections would be affected by lasting stability in Iraq are indeed important, but does the author really believe they're unpredictable? The Democrats have done an absolutely fantastic job of ensuring that any success in Iraq, or shall we say "any glimmer of hope," will not be laid at their feet.

All the rest that needs to be said about this post is basically this: About time you people started to consider the consequences of your policy stance, not to mention your tactics.

On to the comments. Here's my favorite:

[Even if lots of good things happen, with expletive,] what have you got to show for our efforts? An Iranian Shiite outpost in Mesopotamia, a disempowered and p[...]ed-off Sunni minority with allies in Saudi Arabia and across the Islamic world, and the legacy of 6 years of criminality, sectarian cleansing and armed conflict - and a disreputable government that does not command the loyalty of its security forces and cannot rule without the US military to support it.

Hmm. Let's review what Iraq had before: a no-fly zone expending American resources to absolutely no good effect, international sanctions which, we were told, killed some hundred thousand innocent Iraqi children a year, an oil-for-food program that undermined our alliances with some of our formerly staunchest allies, an empowered and p'ed off Sunni minority (with the same allies the commenter named, but less need of them because they already had all the guns), the legacy of 20+ years of criminality, sectarian cleansing and armed conflict, and an utterly disreputable and dangerous dictatorial government that had already invaded two of its neighbors, that commanded the loyalty of its security forces by holding their families hostage, and that held power by dint of rape and torture rooms and an established willingness to use at least chemical and possibly biological weapons against its own people.

Gosh. Now Iraq has trouble, right here in River City - but also the most liberal constitution in the Middle East, a significant and growing cadre of people of good will of all ethnic stripes who see their own and their country's interest in defending that constitution, and the help of the undeniably mighty American military to get to their feet and keep on cranking out those clean elections. None of which they had under Saddam Hussein.

That same dour commenter goes on, "The only thing worth celebrating is the day when no more Americans will be fighting and dying in that hell-hole -- the difference is I would like to bring that celebration home tomorrow, whereas you are willing to wait till 2009." And again I say, Gosh. That's the only thing worth celebrating? And is s/he laboring under the delusion that the American military would in fact "celebrate" it if they left tomorrow? Perhaps s/he doesn't visit milblogs very often... This commenter believes that we're in Iraq because Bush wants to "save face"; I beg his or her pardon, but does s/he really believe that Bush, a lame duck president whose approval ratings hit rock bottom long ago and have only rebounded into the 30s, has "face" to save? If Bush were interested in saving face, he could've done so by doing exactly what the Democrats want to do: by declaring victory at any arbitrary point and pulling out all American troops, then blaming Iraq (and/or Iran) for not being able to hold the gains we'd given them.

Instead, this man's legacy is going to have to wait. I'm an optimist; I believe that Iraq has a good chance. I also believe that Bush's legacy will be a heck of a lot more history-book-apt than Clinton's (at least, I cringe at the thought of my children's learning about the more noteworthy aspects of Clinton's presidency), and certainly more positive than that bumbling goofball Carter's. (Bravo to you, Carter, for swinging a hammer for the downtrodden - but ferme la bouche about Israel, sir; you only come across as an antisemite.)