“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Viktor Silo's Guest Post - The White Mans Burden
The White Man's Burden
1899 Editorial Cartoon
So we had 9/11. It demanded a response. Somebody's nose had to be bloodied. Saddam looked like a good target. We went for regime change. We accomplished it. We walked away. Having achieved victory, we were confident that what we did to Iraq will serve as an deterrent to anyone who may be contemplating attacking the U.S.
What's wrong with this story? Of course, we didn't walk away, did we? And there are some who would further argue that we, in fact, didn't even accomplish the mission.
Did we accomplish the mission? Remember the sign that said "Mission Accomplished" on the USS Abraham Lincoln as President George W. Bush addressed the nation on May 1, 2003. It is important to note that the sign was put up by the crew of the ship with the tacit approval of the officers. The strong implication, for me, was that the military sure thought the mission was accomplished and, by extension, that the war was over. Bush even said at the time that this marked the end of major combat operations in Iraq. The nation was relieved and applauded. Too bad we didn't ask The Wolf, from Pulp Fiction, for his opinion. He might have said, "Let's not suck each other's dick quite yet." Soon, to the chagrin of conservatives, we were to find out that the U.S. was about to embark upon The Great Neo-Con Wilsonian Adventure.
Woodrow Wilson was a Democrat. He thought of himself as a progressive and a reformer. Wilsonian foreign policy's objective was to foster "world peace." Can you imagine such naivete? Such are the thoughts of liberals and other schoolboys. Anyhow, part of Wilson's 14 point plan to achieve world peace was that the U.S. should actively participate in the spread of democracy around the world, by military intervention if necessary.
In the 1960s, a group of leading liberal intellectuals left the liberal establishment and decided to call themselves "conservatives." This was the birth of the neo-cons. The neo-cons might have distanced themselves from the leftward movement by the Democrats but they remained Wilsonian on foreign policy. Who are these neo-cons? Go to the Weekly Standard or, I regret to say, the National Review and you will find out soon enough.
Fast forward to 2003. Influential people convinced Bush that the democratization of Iraq was a desirable and doable objective. From what I can ascertain, this new mission came as a surprise to the military. They had not planned for it. They might have secured Iraq in a different fashion had they known.
What is it about George Bush that allowed himself to be persuaded to embark upon the democratization of Iraq? I would begin the answer by echoing the words of WFB when he was asked to describe Bush's politics. He said (I'm paraphrasing), "George Bush may be conservative but he is not a conservative."
Bush certainly has conservative views but he holds them without the benefit of thoughtful consideration. That is to say: Bush is a conservative by temperament rather than conviction. He really is a "compassionate" conservative. And what is a "compassionate" conservative? To be a compassionate conservative in politics means one governs or legislates by emotion rather than thought. In other words: Bush is a conservative "do-gooder." Let us remind ourselves here of what that term means: an earnest, naive, often impractical humanitarian or reformer. Evidence: the democratization of Iraq (misguided reform) and immigration (misguided humanitarianism).
The war to install democracy in Iraq may very well succeed - in the short run. In the long run, who knows? The people of Iraq might be better off. But will America? Does Bush really think democracy in Iraq will be contagious to the rest of the Middle East? And what will Iraq do with its democracy? Democracy is only a means to an end. If the ends are against our best interests, who cares about the means? Will Iraqis and others in the middle east give up their ways just because they have democratically elected leaders?
Bush, and all too many others I'm sorry to say, don't realise that self determination is a privilege that comes with moral maturity. These societies may be ancient but they have been in a state of arrested development for centuries. They have not become morally fit for democracy. Homes and schools are not democracies precisely because we can't trust the morally immature mind to do the right thing. The people in the middle east don't enjoy an enlightened morality. Their societies, for whatever reason, have not evolved.
Now, here we are, over four years later, trying to win an occupation, the futility of which has been pointed out by commenter Teresita over at The Elephant Bar. And then there's the money. By any standard, 100B a year is stupefying figure. Even the U.S. economy can't absorb this for very long. Sooner or later, America's enemies will realise that they should be encouraging the U.S. in its Iraq democratization project. It, along with another misguided Bush project, will eventually bring America to its knees.
Oh yes, that other misguided Bush project: Mexican immigration. On immigration, Bush gets positively mushy. Here is another example of Wisonianism. In Wilsonianism, benevolence trumps self-interest. In fact, Wilsonians go further and say, without irony, that ignoring our self-interest temporarily, is really in our own best interest. In the long term, of course. So, for Bush, massive immigration, legal or illegal, while temporarily bad for the U.S. will be, in the long run, good for America. Furthermore, it is the right thing to do.
Like all other liberals, Bush wants to look in the mirror and say to himself, "I am a good man." Because he sees himself as a "good man" without ulterior motives, it does not occur to Bush that his feelings about illegal immigration are just narcissistic indulgences and that this same narcissism makers him oblivious to how destructive to America his policy on this matter really is.
George Bush is more than just sympatico to Mexicans. In his heart, he feels he is Mexican. Surely, by now, everyone has noticed how Bush, speaks forcefully and with confidence and, dare I say it, with joy in his heart, when speaking his version of Mexican-Spanish. Bush is a "bleeding heart." But for whom does he bleed? Does he bleed for Americans? Does he bleed for Mexican illegals? Or does he bleed for his own thwarted desire to be a humanitarian? No wonder he hates those who oppose his amnesty bill. God help you if you thwart a liberal while he is lusting for virtue.
Bush thinks that protecting Americans is protecting them from physical harm. While I do not deny the importance of that, Bush fails to appreciate that protecting America is really about protecting its values and culture. His mind is structurally blind to the damage that this massive illegal immigration causes. The importation of Mexican culture on such a large scale cannot help but dilute American culture. Bush, in his own way, is undermining American culture as much as Blair has undermined British culture. Blair rejects British culture as unenlightened and wants to bring it under the wider "progressive" European Union. Bush is similarly minded at least to the degree that he favours a North American Union.
Twelve million illegal immigrants are in America and they are continuing to come across the border by the thousands every day. They all want Social Security and access to schools, hospitals, and welfare. And then there's the cost of building new infrastructure to accommodate them.
In the next election, I will watch out for any candidate who shows the slightest inclination toward neo-con Wilsonian adventurism and or is soft on illegal immigration. The staggering costs of military adventures and illegal immigration are a potent one-two punch that could cripple the U.S. economy. The cultural consequences of large scale immigration, legal or not, could be lethal to the American dream of freedom and prosperity.
You can read more from Viktor Silo at viktorsilo.blogspot.com.
Posted by Anonymous at 7/01/2007 02:09:00 PM