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 Post subject: President George W Bush_Comic, not tragic
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:44 pm 
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A 2003 Brothers Judd article about the war on terror.
November 24, 2003
Quote:
COMIC, NOT TRAGIC:
Quote:
George W Bush, tragic character (Spengler, 11/24/03, Asia Times)

It is hard to label "tragic" anyone as cheerful and optimistic as President George W Bush. Perhaps more than any leader in history, Bush is a Christian. Religious conversion is the defining experience of his life, and it is in his nature to convert others. Because he is a 21st-century American and not a 12th-century Crusader, he preaches the ballot box rather than the cross; as I have argued elsewhere (Mahathir is right: Jews do rule the world, October 28) that amounts to the same thing. Telling in this regard was the president's London oration last week. No less than five references to "ideals" and "idealism" showed where his heart lies; recall his campaign declaration that Jesus Christ was his favorite political philosopher.

Mephistopheles introduced himself to Faust as "ein Teil von jener Kraft, die stets das Boese will und stets das Gute schafft. (a part of that power, which always wants to do evil, but always does good)." Reverse this, and you have the tragedy of Bush: he wants universal good, but he will end up doing some terrible things. [...]

"American tragedy" (despite Theodore Dreiser's dreadful novel) is something of an oxymoron, for America is the land of new beginnings. Tragedy invariably takes the form of a shadow from the past darkening the present and future. But something like the River Lethe girds the American continent, through which immigrants forget their past and with it their past tragedies. One might say that the American tragedy is the incapacity of Americans to understand the tragedy of other peoples. America can cherry-pick out of the nations those individuals who wish to be Americans, but it cannot force back on the nations its own character. Its efforts to do so have perpetually destabilizing consequences for other peoples. Not idly does Osama bin Laden denounce Americans as "crusaders".
Spengler is right in so far as he goes, which is nowhere near far enough. America is unquestionably the most lethal and successful military power the world has ever known. But it has framed every one of its wars in messianic terms and has failed to achieve its stated goals in each. The Civil War saved the Union and freed the slaves, but left the South a much despised region and blacks an oppressed minority. In WWI we beat Germany, but left the Bolsheviks in power and the French and the British carving up the Third World. We'd destroyed enough of Germany and Japan in WWII that we felt compelled to help rebuild them, but left the Soviet Union in control of all of Eastern Europe. We more or less managed to contain the Soviets in the Cold War, but never asked ourselves why we weren't forcing them to contract if we really cared about the freedom of other peoples--meanwhile, the Korea and Vietnam wars and the confrontation with Cuba all left communist powers in place. And in the first Iraq War we easily expelled Saddam from Kuwait, but left his brutal regime in place at home. It's a pretty abysmal record.

Now we confront Islam generally and insist that democratic forces be brought to bear on the entire region--via military power and/or political pressure--but there's no reason to believe that we'll stay committed for as long as it takes. Already--just two years after 9-11 and after improbably minimal military losses--the elites and the Democrats have pretty much abandoned ship and as the media, academics, etc. pound away at the war public support always fades too. If you were a betting man, you'd side with Spengler here and say that the clash of civilizations will be called off long before we reach its conclusion and that will indeed be tragic for the folks we leave behind.

However, there are a few caveats that should be mentioned. First, just as in those prior wars, there have already been extensive successes, which are nothing to sneeze at--in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine people have the opportunity to choose more popular governments than they had before this all started. Likewise, from Morocco to Saudi Arabia to Iran and beyond, there's a recognition that if the Islamic world is to provide its people the standard of living and the basic human freedoms they desire, massive reform will have to occur. This is obviously not to say that Iraq will emerge as a full-fledged liberal democracy. It might even slip back into chaos or totalitarian oppression. But its people have an opportunity, unique in their history, to determine their own fate. That's a worthwhile thing.

Meanwhile, it seems Spengler somewhat misses his own point: the necessity of the American tragedy. George W. Bush is more willful, clear-sighted and articulate in his advocacy of democracy than someone like Al Gore would have been, but the fact is that a President Gore would have cast this war in precisely the same light. America is so powerful and so isolated from the world (and has been for so long) that its own self-interest is never really implicated in global wars. In order to rouse the nation to war two things are necessary: a precipitating attack on us, no matter how dubious; and that the war conform to our vision of ourselves, as Spengler says, as crusaders for democracy (though he's quite wrong that we're 21st century crusaders--rather, we are the last 18th century nation). The President, whoever he be, has no choice in his war aims and his rhetoric if he hopes to lead America to world war. We actually believe all that stuff in the Declaration of Independence and think it applies to all men everywhere. We aren't unintentionally destabilizing; it's our national purpose whenever we go abroad (which we only do, John Quincy Adams not withstanding, seeking monsters).
(Cont)
http://brothersjuddblog.com/archives/20 ... qus_thread
Some interesting thoughts. Links in original.

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 Post subject: Re: President George W Bush_Comic, not tragic
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:47 pm 
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It is not easy to be a "Democratic Crusader." Once you "win" your prone to quit, even though the vestiges of your enemies ethos are far less than dead or "gone."

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 Post subject: Re: President George W Bush_Comic, not tragic
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:24 am 
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Anthropoid wrote:
It is not easy to be a "Democratic Crusader." Once you "win" your prone to quit, even though the vestiges of your enemies ethos are far less than dead or "gone."
Yes, but how to overcome the obstacles?

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 Post subject: Re: President George W Bush_Comic, not tragic
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:16 am 
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abradley wrote:
Anthropoid wrote:
It is not easy to be a "Democratic Crusader." Once you "win" your prone to quit, even though the vestiges of your enemies ethos are far less than dead or "gone."
Yes, but how to overcome the obstacles?


In the absence of a widely understood and viscerally felt existential threat: impossible to overcome. We were able to win utterly in WWII merely because our collective appreciation of the threat rose sufficiently high that we were willing to let ourselves become "temporarily" less democratic. That is my hypothesis

We rely on our adversaries to brutalize "us" sufficiently that "we" are converted to "crusaders." There is no other way, the events of 2002 through 2011 show that quite clearly. We had lost any semblance of solidarity and common purpose we had as a country in the Fall of 2001 as early as the spring of 2002.

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 Post subject: Re: President George W Bush_Comic, not tragic
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:56 am 
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Anthropoid wrote:
abradley wrote:
In the absence of a widely understood and viscerally felt existential threat: impossible to overcome. We were able to win utterly in WWII merely because our collective appreciation of the threat rose sufficiently high that we were willing to let ourselves become "temporarily" less democratic. That is my hypothesis

We rely on our adversaries to brutalize "us" sufficiently that "we" are converted to "crusaders." There is no other way, the events of 2002 through 2011 show that quite clearly. We had lost any semblance of solidarity and common purpose we had as a country in the Fall of 2001 as early as the spring of 2002.


United States never got around to attacking it's enemies though. They would have minded themselves mostly by providing a level of support for those that they felt were fighting the good fight.

Then the Japanese attacked, furious for the condemnation of their campaign of rape and butcher in China. In the immediate wake Hitler declared war on United States, essentially rubbing it off saying "you pansies, you playboys!".

Even with all the atrocities Japanese committed there's a massive gathering of apologists in the US for them, Hollywood in the front line trumpeting that Japan only "retaliated" to US aggression since Japan was this Noble Savage that had the right to do whatever it pleased for they cannot be held to same standards anyway. The idea that if your culture allows genocide, then you're allowed to conduct it and others shouldn't intervene and that if some part of your culture is pacifistic then the rest of the culture needed to be too to the point of complete apathy.

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 Post subject: Re: President George W Bush_Comic, not tragic
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:52 am 
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Kameolontti wrote:
Anthropoid wrote:
In the absence of a widely understood and viscerally felt existential threat: impossible to overcome. We were able to win utterly in WWII merely because our collective appreciation of the threat rose sufficiently high that we were willing to let ourselves become "temporarily" less democratic. That is my hypothesis

We rely on our adversaries to brutalize "us" sufficiently that "we" are converted to "crusaders." There is no other way, the events of 2002 through 2011 show that quite clearly. We had lost any semblance of solidarity and common purpose we had as a country in the Fall of 2001 as early as the spring of 2002.


United States never got around to attacking it's enemies though. They would have minded themselves mostly by providing a level of support for those that they felt were fighting the good fight.

Then the Japanese attacked, furious for the condemnation of their campaign of rape and butcher in China. In the immediate wake Hitler declared war on United States, essentially rubbing it off saying "you pansies, you playboys!".

Even with all the atrocities Japanese committed there's a massive gathering of apologists in the US for them, Hollywood in the front line trumpeting that Japan only "retaliated" to US aggression since Japan was this Noble Savage that had the right to do whatever it pleased for they cannot be held to same standards anyway. The idea that if your culture allows genocide, then you're allowed to conduct it and others shouldn't intervene and that if some part of your culture is pacifistic then the rest of the culture needed to be too to the point of complete apathy.


Yep.

Here is the essence of the problem: When your society REALLY is democratic and with all the other trappings of the modern secular, humanist, libertarian model of the person and the society, your society is AUTOMATICALLY weak. Our greatest strength makes us weak. We are tolerant, indulgent, permissive, forgiving, kind, compassionate, generous, sensitive, caring, which makes "us" (in the West more broadly but the U.S., France and U.K. are arguably exemplars) great and also incredibly weak. Hell, we can even be "taken over" by internal authoritarian movements vis a vis, the Democratic/Republican moiety, the various Establishment parties that call the shots in the Western European nations, and the whole EU project.

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