"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Monday, February 14, 2005

Steyn of the Times

It is an open question whether west will survive
Mark Steyn

Opinion: Here are three small news items from around the world you might have missed:

(1) An unemployed waitress in Berlin faces the loss of her welfare benefits after refusing a job as a prostitute in a legalised brothel.

(2) A British court has ruled that a suspected terrorist from Algeria cannot be detained in custody because jail causes him to suffer a "depressive illness".

3) Jeffrey Eden (17) of Charlestown, Rhode Island, has been awarded an A by his teacher and the "Silver Key" in the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards for a diorama titled "Bush/Hitler And How History Repeats Itself".

A trio of itsy-bitsy little stories from the foot of page 27 of your daily paper, if they made it at all. But they're as revealing about the course of the war as anything going on in Iraq. The Germans, in the bad old days when their preferred field of combat was France rather than Fraulein Helga's government-regulated bondage dungeon, used to talk about "wehrwille" - war will. America, Britain, Australia and a select few other countries have demonstrated they can just about muster the war will on the battlefield. On the broader cultural front, whether this war in the end will be won, there's little evidence of any kind of will.



Dear Madam,

In the Irish Times today Mark Steyn attempts to "reveal...the course of the war" by annalysing three unrelated articles. A difficult task for anyone, but Mr. Steyn throws himself into it with all the grace and civility of a recently shamed football pundit. The german woman "forced" into prostitution is a sign of European weakness in the midst of the constant threat of Islamic extremists, the "illness" and subsequent release of a terror suspect caused by prison detention is another and the teenager's art project is merely an example of how out of touch the "left" is with reality.

But what does this all mean one might ask, well Mr. Steyn is only too glad to explain: "the Afghan camps are gone, the Great Satan's liberated Iraq" which inturn means "[He's] not worried about Iraq. As they demonstrated on January 30th, they'll be just fine. The western front is the important one in this war, the point of intersection between Islam and a liberal democratic tradition so mired in self-loathing it would rather destroy our civilisation just to demonstrate its multicultural bona fides."

A fairly logical assumption, if it were true. But where do the reported 200,000+ insurgents fit into this? With deaths in Iraq steadily unchanged since democratisation, what can one expect for the newly democratic country?

Well as he said in another recent article:

"The Democrats' big phrase is "exit strategy." Time and again, their senators demanded that Rice tell 'em what the "exit strategy" for Iraq was. The correct answer is: There isn't one, and there shouldn't be one, and it's a dumb expression." (2)

Simple, no exit strategy. One would have thought for anyone witnessing those demonstrations of democracy last month it would be a priority to show our sincerity by bowing to democratic will and at least entertaining the idea of an exit strategy, simply because that is what the majority of Iraqis want. Otherwise, in a "liberated Iraq" one is only free to do as we say.

He then explains the lack of an "exit strategy":

"By contrast, the British went in to India without an "exit strategy," stayed for generations and midwifed the world's most populous democracy and a key U.S. ally in the years ahead." (2)

What he "forgets" to mention is that the reality of British imperialism led the Indian people to greater familiarity with famine than democracy:

"Thousands, if not millions, of people starved to death right next to the very symbols of modernity, the railways that linked ancient agricultural areas to the new international market. The stated British mission of civilizing India actually curtailed India’s economic growth. In addition to the roughly 20 million Indians who died from starvation (British estimates), India’s economy stagnated. In 1800 India’s share of the world’s manufactured product was four times that of Britain. By 1900 India was almost totally under British control and the ration was 8-1 in England’s favor. Moreover, according to a British statistician, who analyzed Indian food security measures in the two millennia prior to 1800, there was one major famine a century in India. Under British rule there was one every four years." (4)

An unfortunate result of spreading democracy:

"Firstly, it diverts scarce land and water resources from meeting local food needs to providing for export markets thus creating hunger and conditions for famine of the most vulnerable and marginal communities. This is what happened during colonialism and is happening under the recolonisation of globalisation." (6)

Not forgeting the mindset of an imperialist:

As "Lord Elgin's 1895 statement [puts it bluntly], "We could only govern by maintaining the fact that we are the dominant race - though Indians in services should be encouraged, there is a point at which we must reserve the control to ourselves, if we are to remain at all." (5)

Control is the leading idea in colonial ambition and so it remains in Iraq. Therefore he feels no reason to provide any reason as to why "the Great Satan" was a close ally.

I could believe his every word if it were not for the niggling problem of a long term memory. History it seems is not in Mr. Steyn's repertoire:

"What is wanted [in Iraq, circa 1920] is a king who will be content to reign but not govern. What we want is some administration with Arab institutions which we can safely leave while pulling the strings ourselves; something that won't cost very much but under which our economic and political interests will be secure" (British Foreign Office, 1920).

As Mr. Steyn berates the 17 year old for comparing Bush to Hitler he makes a valid point "Bush isn't Hitler." But why then in a recent article does he aquire the right to compare the war in Iraq with the war against the Nazis. This smacks of hipocrisy:

"Democrat Senate colossus Harry Reid -- who makes Tom Daschle look like Reese Witherspoon -- said in his first major speech of the week, "With yesterday's elections in Iraq, President Bush has a golden opportunity to change course,'' which means . . . well, to be honest, I haven't a clue what it means. But it sounds a lot like Reid's terrific speech from June 1944: "With yesterday's successful D-Day landings, General Eisenhower now has a golden opportunity to change course and surrender."" (1)

So while Euope faces it's eventual demise "whether the west will survive this twilight struggle: Europe almost certainly won't"
we are told to focus on "The western front, [it] is the important one in this war, the point of intersection between Islam and a liberal democratic tradition so mired in self-loathing it would rather destroy our civilisation just to demonstrate its multicultural bona fides."

While I agree that this war is fought in the west, it is the people of the east who will suffer. So while we debate the morality of imprisoning "terror suspects" indefinitely, sending troops to do "our" biding improperly equiped, invading Iran and distributing Iraqi oil fairly amongst us. We can be safe in the knowledge that our "decadence and weak" nature have allowed the deaths of well over 100,000 people. The price of democracy in Iraq is one we are willing to make them pay.

Maybe for a follow up article Mr. Steyn could, using a story detailing the US national debt, another describing the the life sentence handed out to a man convicted of three felonies (possession of durgs, burglary and carrying a gun) and one describing the recent US intervention in Haiti, come up with the same conclusion of "mass civilisational suicide."

Yours sincerely,

1. http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn06.html
2. http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn23.html
4. http://www.zmag.org/content
5. http://www.peaceredding.org
6. http://www.goacom.com/overseas-digest

US national debt: