Friday, September 15, 2006

War of Civilizations

Kissinger warns of possible "war of civilizations"
"A common Atlantic policy backed by moderate Arab states must become a top priority, no matter how pessimistic previous experience with such projects leaves one," Kissinger wrote. "The debate sparked by the Iraq war over American rashness vs. European escapism is dwarfed by what the world now faces.

"Both sides of the Atlantic should put their best minds together on how to deal with the common danger of a wider war merging into a war of civilizations against the background of a nuclear-armed Middle East."

Kissinger wrote that the big threat lay in the erosion of nation states and the emergence of transnational groups. Iran was at the centre of the challenge, he said, with its support for Hezbollah, radical Shiite groups in Iraq and its nuclear program.
I will not simply accept that we are engaged in a Cultural War in the terms that Neoconservatives describe it. They accept the Cultural War as a fact but fail to provide the reasons for the fact. I want to see someone apply a solid, logical argument supporting this fact using deductive reasoning. Break it down; show me what events lead to this circumstance if you want others to accept this as a fact.

I would rather apply inductive reasoning to this situation. We can observe (objectively) certain events from history and the circumstances of those events. We can correlate those events to similar events and even extrapolate conclusions from the similarities. Perhaps this is where the modern mind produced by instant gratification information and shallow education is at its weakest. Unlike the general population of America of the 1700's, it is not possible to make minor allusions to past events or writing and expect the majority of the population to understand. Want to know what I mean? Just read the Federalist Papers (the most successful work of propaganda ever written). The authors made broad and wide use of allusion to otherwise obscure works of classical literature and history - and people got it and understood.

My analysis of the world just does not tell me that the only way to deal with the Middle-East is via engagement. I do not accept that a cultural war with these people is a foregone conclusion. (They are not a worthy foe.) I do not believe that anyone has or can apply deductive reasoning to adequately demonstrate that the reasons for the Cultural War that the Neoconservatives adhere to as a fact actually exists - without solving for the variables on the left side of the equation it is impossible to state that the solution is correct.

It is possible to state that there is an equation, numerous variables on the left certainly do equate to a solution on the right - but what solution?

Here are some of the variables on the left hand side of the equation that the Neoconservatives ignore:

-Cultural demise at home
-Domestic political corruption
-Abandonment of core principles
-Meddling in the affairs of others
-Colonialism in the form of unbridled corporatism

So you say these things have nothing at all to do with the actions of others; I say they do because they make us weak. The US was attacked precisely because it had a weakness (no, not because we did not spy on citizens before 9/11, but precisely because Bin Laden and company were perceptive enough to detect internal weakness). Europe is being assimilated because it has a weakness. Kissinger would have us believe that the weakness is only the fact that Europe and the US will not stand together and get tough enough with the Muslim world. Try that if you like but it is nothing more than Rome's attempt to fight the Huns while ignoring internal problems; the result will undoubtedly be no different.

Americans have but one real chance to win the cultural war and that is to fight the war at home, in their own neighborhoods. To be a great power a people must be great and I am not so sure we are still a great people.

Around the blogosphere...

Outside the Beltway: "There's a minor problem, though, with the argument: It is simply inconceivable that the Islamists will defeat us militarily, let alone impose their culture on us. As scary as Bin Laden and company are, they are not going to amass an arsenal of nuclear weapons capable of annihilating the planet many times over."

Cato Unbound: "The United States is unlikely to be toppled by dramatic acts of terrorist destruction, even extreme ones. As it happens, officials estimated for a while last year that Hurricane Katrina had inflicted 10,000 deaths–the tolerance level set by General Myers. Although this, of course, was not a terrorist act, there were no indications whatever that, while catastrophic for the hurricane victims themselves, the way of life of the rest of the nation would be notably done away with by such a disaster. It is also easy to imagine scenarios in which 10,000 would have been killed on September 11–if the planes had hit the World Trade Center later in the day when more people were at work for example–and indeed, early estimates at the time were much higher than 3000. Any death is tragic, but it is hardly likely that a substantially higher loss on 9/11 would have necessarily have triggered societal suicide."

Jihad Watch: "Both sides of the Atlantic should put their best minds together on how to deal with the common danger of a wider war merging into a war of civilizations against the background of a nuclear-armed Middle East." How can they do that, Henry, when the best minds are one side of the Atlantic are doing their best to make that clash of civilizations a reality?

Folks I generally agree with but disagree on this issue:

Free Constitution: "Kissinger is not just talking about Iran, he speaks of Islamic fascism, penetrating virtually every geographic region at an increasing rate. That is the fact. What doesn't have to become fact is a nuclear Iran. The combination of the two is unconscionable." (El Cid note: I do not mean we ought to be soft, only that we should be right at home and then strong abroad toward any real threat.)

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