Monday, November 08, 2004

Persevere... Think outside the axis...

Mea Culpa...I apologize...

Especially to my 12 year old son, one of the deepest and most honorable souls I've been privileged to know. His rectitude and character were a gift to me that I, as a parent, never had to train. And alas, he deeply trusted my assurance that the Moderns would win over Apocalyptic Vision in this election. His pain was that of a precocious child who only knows intellectually that there will be other days.

My fault. My damned fault.

But it seemed so clear. Never before have so many of the intellectual elite abandoned a political party to call its leaders "morons". Several hundred prominent Republicans from William F. Buckley to George Will to (even) a wavering Pat Buchanan, publicly denounced the "neocons" as divisive, manipulative and crazy. Almost a hundred GOP-related newspapers spurned decades - even a century - of tradition by abandoning George W. Bush and his narrow cabal of kleptocrats, neocons and apocalypts.

In my own very-Republican, upper-middle-class neighborhood, not a Bush lawn sign could be seen. Kerry bumper stickers outnumbered Bush stickers ten to one. And nationwide polls showed signs of a huge turnout. This traditionally favored democrats.

In fact, these signs did not lie. Kerry won URBAN AMERICA by margins greater than Johnson over Goldwater in 64. In other words, my urgent, long-winded, detailed and carefully-reasoned essays (see: http://www.davidbrin.com/neoromantics.html) were aimed at helping a trend that was already huge and underway. Persuading people with post-graduate degrees... nearly all of whom were already persuaded.)

Who knew that the groundswell was even greater in Rural America? Karl Rove said - 4 years ago - "there are 4 million missing evangelicals; I'm going to get them." And he did. When I was a kid, pastors showed decorum and restraint. They used allegories to slip in subtle political hints from the pulpit. Now they threaten damnation if parishoners don't grab "I-never-voted" Bubba and drag him to the polls.

I will write mote about this phenomenon... the Divided States of America. But first, I recommend you all drop by:
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/
and ponder the maps showing how deep the divide is.

See also Godly and Worldly America by Simon Schama, in the Friday November 05 2004 issue of The Guardian.

In effect, Rural America has declared war on Urban America..... though of course they will say that this is only in their own defense. In defense of moral values that Urban America has put under assault for decades.

.... I'll post a big article about all this in a week, or two, or three. Depending on travel (I still have speeches scheduled) and my wife's insistence that I go back to writing stories that pay. But first, some reassurance:

This too will pass.

Please. History shows that America has survived similar waves of urgent nostalgia and romanticism -- like the Great Awakening and the Know Nothings. America is stronger than this brand of mania. We usually regain our confidence to face a future of relentless challenges, unafraid of the moral and technical challenges of change.

And with nuclear war temporarily off the burner - (can you think of a LESS frightening time to have maniacs near the Big Button?) - I think we can wait them out.

(W needed this war to get re-elected. My guess is that he'll taper it off fast, now that it's accomplished its paramount goal. That is, unless the Saudis insist we keep it going. The nightly footage on Al Arabiya serves their long rage goals.)

Yes, and even the US Supreme Court. Let's make our symbol the RICCOLA COUGH DROP sending crates of them to Democratic Senators, insisting that they filibuster through the night so that W appoints genuine jurists who are honest conservatives and strict constructionalists, rather than apocalypse fetishists who drip venom toward those who disagree. If the new appointees are strict constructionalists, then I feel that both liberals and conservatives will be in for a surprise.

(I'll talk about that later. It may help you all to cheer up. Well, those of you who read and think about the future as an extended vista, stretching far ahead....)

So yes, I will speak of causes for optimism... soon....

But one thing, just one, has me down and gloomy with despair. It will sound like a CONSERVATIVE thing. But it is something precious. Something we needed for peace and progress and a better world.

What is Dead is our dream of Pax Americana leadership in a uni-polar world. The very thing that those bright nincompoops, Wolfowitz and Pearle and Pipes and the other rationalizing Platonist Straussians THINK they are enhancing.

All over the world, meetings will intensify to forge a Eurasian alliance against our immaturity. This is HAPPENING right now. The neocons have driven Paris and Berlin and Beijing and Moscow into each others' arms. The meetings which HAD been vague and hypothetical will now get very pragmatic. Neocons shrug at this news and sneer at Eurasian impotence. But that immature and short-sighted sneering is proof of their underlying stupidity.

And meanwhile, we provide footage for Al Jazeera's successful recruitment drive to create the first Pan Islamic unification in a thousand years.

Francis Fukayama is part of the group ensuring that his END OF HISTORY book will become a joke. We are in for plenty of multipolar history ahead. Pax Americana has missed its chance.

Is that ironic? While the Liberals wring their hands over things that we can endure... we'll find other ways to help the poor and the environment... my deepest pain concerns something that the neocons think they are building for us all.

I mourn Pax Americana. It could have saved the world.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

From Patrik Farley's blog:

"Friends: don't despair. The Orcs who elected Bush their Savior from the Islamo-Fag Menace crave your despair like a junky craves heroin. Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, Coulter, and the yammering dipshits of Fox News are at this hour deep in their tribal gloatfest, pounding their drums and bellowing around the bonfire. Your despair is their sweet, sweet nectar -- don't give it to them. Deny the Neo-Medievalists the gift of your heartbreak. Yea verily, as the inevitable avalanche of shit rumbles down upon us all these next 4 years, get in touch with your inner Hunter Thompson, surf the insanity, become the Buddhist warrior who leaps into battle with a laughing heart. The Neo-Medievalists are a grim lot, and we won't be doing ourselves or the world any favors by sinking to their joyless depths."

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the ideal of Pax Americana will probably die with this Presidential term, but only in the sense that America will not be leading it.

The principles of Egalitarianism and Democracy emerge out of our disputes because they are the concepts that work. China has slowly edged more liberalized ideas into their society and has even accepted many free-market measures because social and economic freedoms make for a better society. France and Germany aren't going to give up Democracy to spite us, and in spite of Russia's Democratic difficulties, I doubt they will relapse into a Totalitarian state again.

America forged the way and served as a shining example for other nations to follow. Now that the world must form new alliances, stronger economic alliances, in response to our Unilateralist Military actions, they will continue to uphold those principles. The ideas are still there, still working, only we aren't leading the way any longer.

My only concern is the Middle East, where I agree a strong alliance is emerging among countries lacking these principles, but whatever union they form, it will have to deal with the Eurasian Union.

I look forward to your fleshed-out thoughts on this new emerging future.

Thanks,

rAs
ideonexus.com

Anonymous said...

One problem, while you claim "Rural America has declared war on Urban America" the data doesn't seem to support this view, at least in comparison to Bush's support in 2000. According to CNN Bush did worse in rural areas and better in urban areas compared to four years ago. If fact, it was really the less educated city dwellers that propelled Bush to victory:

COMMUNITY.............Bush.....vs 2000
Big Cities (13%).........39%......+13
Smaller Cities (19%)...49%......+9
Suburbs (45%)...........52%.......+3
Small Towns (8%)......50%.......-9
Rural (16%).............59%.......+0

EDUCATION................Bush.....vs 2000
No High School (4%)......49%......+10
H.S. Graduate (22%)......52%.......+3
Some College (32%).......54%......+3
College Graduate (26%)..52%.....+1
Postgrad Study (16%).....44%......+0

-- Mark M

Tony Fisk said...

It's the school of hard knocks, I'm afraid.

I hope your son recovers his spirit. (personally, I found humming the chorus to the 'Time Warp' a bleakly humorous tonic!)

You might be interested in the review posted at Groklaw on 'The Wisdom of the Crowd'. The themes will be familiar to you, but one point, about how a group of experts is statistically worse than experts and non-experts at finding the best result (skewing due to commonly held assumptions) suggests why you might have 'got it wrong'.

Looking at those maps you mention, the useful thing I see are the last few, where the contrast knob is turned down, and we see, as ever, that judging the world in simplistic terms of black and white (or, in this instance, red and blue) is what children (and neocons) do. That mass of red (or blue)isn't nearly as solid as it appears: but it does tend to represent the non-urban areas.

So, while it may be tempting, I don't think that seceding to Canada is the solution! Mind you, an even mix of volatiles isn't something to be near!

Something I find disturbing is that the conservative voting pattern extended to the referenda issues. These had nothing to do with the Iraqi adventure. The inference is that Iraq may not have been the issue at all (which I find a: surprising, and b: suggestive of a real shift)

Finally, I note this contention that Saudi Arabia is calling the shots in Iraq (and was doing so in the Gulf War). I'm missing a few steps in the argument, here. Could you point me to them, please?

David Brin said...

Thanks for the kind and insightful remarks.
My reasoning about th Saudis is partly laid out at:
http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html

Not a single aspect of present policy does not suit their aims, from miring our best troops in a war of attrition, to dividing US society, to providing nightly propaganda on Arab TV, to restricting Iraqi oil flow through sabotage and keeping prices high.

It's the happiest kingdom on Earth.

tdr said...

Don't attribute efforts to create a multipolar world in opposition to a US unipolar world as evidence of failed US foreign policy. China has its own reasons which have much to do with their ambitions to reclaim the status as the dominant power in East Asia. The leading European nations have their own political and strategic interests that drive their current anti-American policies.

One interest flows from their recognition that the US already is a hyperpower and their belief that it is in their interests to tie the US to international organizations so that the US will act on their behalf rather than for nationalistic reasons.

Another blatant example of Europe acting in its own interest in opposition to the US will be more fully revealed as the Oil for Food investigation shows how Europe's close ties with Saddam's regime led to their support of his regime to its bitter end.

Another difference is cultural. The differences we have with Europe are unfortunate and not predicted by Fukuyama or even Huntington in his famous book. What Huntington did not highlight was the extent to which the US and Europe are different sub-civilizations within Western Civilization. Europe has tried to move beyond nationalism and Europe is much more of an Enlightenment Civiliziation than the US. The US remains nationalistic and has never been a pure Enlightenment society. Our country's vibrant religious culture prevents us from being entirely in the Englightenment camp.

Moreover, US fundamental political beliefs prevent us from moving beyond nationalism in the way that Europe would have us proceed. Our fundamental political doctrine holds that political sovereignty rests with the people and that a government derives its legitimacy from popular sovereignty. Europe's steps toward union in the EU and its embrace of internationalist institutions like the UN and rejection of so-called unilateralism are steps away from popular sovereignty. That's why a European country's No vote on EU just means they get a new referendum after a few years, but a Yes vote means no more referenda on whether to remain.

It would also be a mistake to overstate the extent of the conflicts between the US and other nations. Europe, Russia, China, India all face their own conflicts with Islamist terrorism and that common enemy helps to bind them to us. Even with our differences we cooperate with many nations in fighting terrorism through non-military means, we cooperate with many nations to combat proliferation through the Proliferation Security Initiative, we continue to work with the Europeans and with the East Asians against Iranian and North Korean nuclear ambitions, and the list could go on.

It would also be a mistake to believe the Saudis are pleased with events since 9/11 and specifically the US involvement in Iraq. For one, Saudi Arabia is not happy about the open combat in their own country since the US began to chart its course. Nor are they happy with the thought that a government in Iraq could emerge that reflects the will of the Iraqi people, dominated as that country is by Shiite Muslims who reject the Saudi brand of fundamentalist Islam and who also reject the Iranian version of Shiite Islam. (For a good explanation of the difference between Iraq's and Iran's versions of Shiism go to http://healingiraq.blogspot.com and find the post that explains the theological differences and how Khomeini's Shiism is heretical.) In that regard, the Saudis don't have US interests at heart in Iraq and if that was your point about them, it's a good one. However, if your point is that US policy since 9/11 is designed to benefit the Saudis it's a dubious one. US policy doesn't end our relationship but it does challenge the Saudis and taken to its logical conclusion it means the end of their regime.

You can despair that things will only get worse in Iraq and Afghanistan but at this point you have no evidence that failure must be the end result. Further you can't argue that liberating 50 million people from theocratic and secular fascism in the last 3 years was a bad thing. Overthrowing fascist regimes is a good thing, and where it can be done, it should be done. And in this case, overthrowing fascist regimes is part of a "roots cause" approach to fighting terrorism, which blue county people can't seem to comprehend, but which Bush recognized long ago, and which is why we red county voters understand that the Iraqi liberation is part of the war against terrorism. (See this link for evidence that backs it up: http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2004/11.04/05-terror.html)

So, it's time to buck up, to recognize that these two liberations are steps in the right direction, to prepare yourself for the steps that are bound to follow, and to help those newly liberated Iraqis and Afghans succeed. They deserve better from us than despair and we owe them nothing less than our full support.

David Brin said...

While this poster is intelligent and well-read, he also could not be more cokeyed wrong.

1. Nobody said that there weren't forces in Europe and China who were already unhappy with a unipolar world. That is WHY it was of paramount importance to maintain US moral and functional leadership momentum. At: http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html I show how the Balkans War did exactly that, showing with incredible maturity, skill and success that there was no point to seeking any center of leadership other than US leadership.

The relentless, screeching immaturity of the neocons, shrilly yelping contempt at the impotence of former allies, is not a good alternative. It is converting theoretical grumbling about multipolarity into unified consensus toward determined action. JOINT action, uniting all of Eurasia.

Moreover, while Eurasia will certainly oppose the newly stimulated pan-Islamic Jihad, that just means that we face a three-poled world. Sometimes Eurasia may side with us. Big deal. Read 1984. It's still a stupid situation of our own making.

2) The argument above about freeing Iraq is nonsense. It assumes that there was only ONE way to topple Saddam - the stupidest possible way. There were scores of other ways it could be done, without following the precise script of Vietnam. Starting with credibility-destroying Tonkin Gulf lies for a pretext, then embroiling our best forces in an attrition land war in Asia, destroying our military readiness.

Anyway, I will not be lectured about "freeing the Iraqis from Saddam" by the monsters who perpetrated the Shame of 91 (http://www.davidbrin.com/shame.html)

The Saudis knew full well that Southern Iraq was finally about to boil over, aided by Iran. Our invasion was a pre-emptive strike to foil the establishment of a free Arab Shiite State. WHILE embroiling US forces. WHILE giving their Jihad propaganda mill nightly scenes of American Crusaders shoving around muslims. WHILE providing their man (W) with a convenient call to reelection in "wartime". WHILE skyrocketing oil prices. WHILE giving kickback contracts to their favorite firms. WHILE having Condi Rice relentlessly saber-rattle to drive the freedom-loving Iranian people back into the arms of their #%#* mullahs, when a Nixon-to-China judo move might have changed everything.

(What would have been the "worst nightmare" of Saddam AND Riyadh AND the Iranian Mullahs? A love-campaign aimed at the Iranian people. So we do the opposite.)

There are no levels at which the sons of Saud are not the happiest kingdom on Earth.

I'll not belabor this. Go to:
http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html
and then
http://www.davidbrin.com/neoromantics.html

I have other things to do.

Tony Fisk said...

Sorry, David, but I'm yet to be convinced about the Saudi conspiracy theory. Call me out of touch, but your 'Shame' article is the first place I've ever seen it stated, and doesn't refer to any backing material on this point (or none that I can see). For a claim like this, they should, or you risk veering into 'orbital mind control laser' territory.

I suspect you're still developing this thesis, and so await your forthcoming articles with interest.

For now, what I will agree is that:
- It was, in retrospect, a tragic mistake that the UN forces didn't finish the job in '91 (but there were, at the time, apparently good reasons not to invade Iraq: no need to invoke a leash from Riyadh)
- It was quite reprehensible for Bush to incite elements of Iraqi resistance and then not back them (shades of the Warsaw uprising)
- The relationship between clan Bush and Saud is well documented (a google of 'bush saudi' gives a number of sites like this one, for example). However, guilt by association isn't enough.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brin, you disappoint me. From your writings I thought that you believed, it was folly to think that while you and those who agree with with you got your views from logic and factual reasons, your opponents were tricked into their views by outsiders playing on their superstitions and emotions. Now in this election you fail to give your opponents any credit that they may be just as thoughtful as you.

Additionally, it is wrong to equate formal education with political intelligence. I can see no reason to come to a conclusion that a person with a Ph.D. in Astronomy would be better able to understand the argument for or against the Iraq war than someone with an Associates Degree in Auto Mechanics. You also seem to be assuming that the urban population is more educated. I believe that the suburbs (reliable Republican) are more educated than the inner city and that farmers often have advanced degrees. Since this is from memory I am open to correction.

The voters who elected Mr. Bush did not declare war on you. They merely choose the person they thought would best lead this country to peace and prosperity. It is disappointing that you seem to think that they are part of a vast conspiracy to undermine civilization to enrich one man who they have never met. Please calm down and realize that they are your neighbors and that perhaps they are right.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post with solid logic. But I think you may be giving Mr. Bush more credit that he deserves. Was every vote really counted? An online friend of mine and his girlfriend in Florida were not allowed to vote and refused a provisional ballot even though the were registered to vote. His vote was stolen right in front of him and there was nothing he could do. Multiple investigations of vote tampering are ongoing. Questions about electronic voting remain. The entire legitimacy of the election has not been proven. Kerry may not be willing to fight for the "good of the county" but I don’t think of Bush as my president. I trust the exit polls more than the crooked politically appointed election commissions in the red states. We are talking about billions of dollars in subsidies. I think that is sufficient incentive to cheat.

Br.Doug

Mike said...

Yeah, we lost. 59 million voters cast theirs for Bush. By my calculations, more than 57 million voted for someone else (the 3.5M vote difference ignores the votes for alternatives to Bush/ Kerry). Sad, but I won't support claims by some of my friends and acquaintances that we have 59M morons in the US, even if I cannot understand how they could have voted that way.

The interesting thing is the post-elections polls: they show that a majority of Americans, including those who voted for Bush, think we are on the wrong track in this country from Iraq to the economy to social policy. A majority of the "values" (i.e., gays, abortion, stem cells etc. - mainly issues that will not bring about the Fall Of The Republic) voters also think we are on the wrong track in Iraq and the economy. There is an article in the New York Times today (November 11) that discusses the "values" thing and give a very different view. Here it is: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/arts/14rich.html

So why did they vote for Bush? I think it has to do with the incompetence of the Kerry campaign. For the record, I supported Kerry and, as a member of Colorado Veterans for Kerry, participated in get out the vote efforts before and on election day. But, in my opinion, Kerry lost the election before he was nominated. When it became obvious to all and sundry that Kerry was going to get the Democratic nomination, Karl Rove and his Assassins (sounds like a punk rock band, no?) went to work defining him to their advantage, and his detriment. He did not deal with them then and proceeded to run an ineffective campaign until too late, allowing the Bush team to define the order of battle and to continue to sneer at his record, deflecting the discussion from the issues that should have defined (and partially, for many of us, did) this election: Iraq, killer budget deficits arising from a blend of reckless spending and equally reckless tax cuts, not getting Osama bin Laden, the economy, the tatters of our foreign relations etc., etc., etc. From late winter 2003/4 when Kerry had to know he would be the man, he needed to ignore his Dem rivals and go after Bush with everything he could muster but didn't. Then the stupid "reporting for duty" entrance at the convention: tacky and useless, stirring up excuses for Bush to tacitly (at least) support the scurrilous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks. And then the absolutely stupidest, most moronic statement of the entire campaign: when he said that even knowing what we knew now he would have voted to give Bush authority to go to war in Iraq. His response, had he used his considerable intelligence, should have been to look at that reporter and say something like: "Do you mean you think the President of the United States would have sought permission to wage war on a state that had not attacked us and that we knew not to be able to attack us? Do you really think he is a warmonger? I don't think he would have done that but in the remote possiblity that he did I would have joined my congressional colleagues, including the Republicans, in giving him a resounding no." As it is, he just gave the Bush team more fodder to ridicule him. And to keep from dealing with issues.

On a bright note, we here in Colorado sent a new Democrat to the Senate, sent his brother to the House (our delegation is now 5 Republicans and 4 Democrats) and threw the Republicans out of control of the state legislature - both houses - for the first time in more than 40 years. Why? Because a: the Republicans have made a hash of this state'e economy (not without some help from the Dems) and b: the Republicans put all their money behind a losing Senate and House race, ingnoring the state races. We also voted to fund, via a very modest increase in sales taxes, a comprehensive mass transit effort over the next two decades and to increase property assessments to improve public education. So all is not lost and all is not just a vote to support the status quo. Then there is California supporting stem cell research, which is probably over-hyped but will provide some value, 15 years from now at least.

So my advice to those flagellating themselve and the "morons" who voted for Bush: buck up, its not all the Dark Side yet, the world will not end right away. We get another chance in two years. Let's hope there are enough Senators with the onions to keep Bush from appointing Scalia Chief Justice and more of his and the Clarence Thomas ilk (Bush said Scalia and Thomas are his two faves on the Court) to the two or three vacancies that will occur until we have a chance to take the Senate in 2006. I like your boxes of Ricola idea.

Finally, the Middle East. I recommend a book called "A Peace to End All Peace" (can't recall the author yet but it is in libraries and bookstores). It is the story, in sometimes escruciating detail but still very well written, of the creation of the modern Middle East from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI. It was written after the Gulf War of 1990 and before the current mess began. It is very enlightening and not a very complimentary picture of the British government of Lloyd George and its manipulations of all sides. It does not seem to have a particular political point of view but is very detailed and good history. In the section about Mesopotamia (now a part of that state we call Iraq) you will read about uprisings of various groups fighting the British (and allied) troops who were trying to bring freedom and unification to the region. Where? Familiar names like Fallujah, Ramallah, Najaf Mosul etc. History repeats itself and it would seem that no one in the neocon camp bothers to study it.

ccfoo said...

Shame on you for assuring your son something you cannot control the outcome of!

Hehe...it's nice to see a real parent under all that political mumbo jumbo!

Anonymous said...

We wouldn't be in this boat if we had gone back to Non-Interventionism (The kind we had before Mckinly and Wilson sat in the White House) after the fall of the USSR. Changes come from within, mostly. The Founders warned us about going on "Crusades for Democracy," Revolutionary France tried that and turned All Europe against them and latter became dictatorship themselves.
Note Non-interventionism is NOT Isolationism (don't let the Neo wakkos cons and Libral Utopian internationalist, ie the United Federation of Planets wannabes fool you.)
The US should stay home and keep its ideals to itself.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brin and others:

Firstly:
We need to be careful about where we say history is repeating itself. Witness Jimmy Carter not wanting to get out of a plane in a rainstorm under the umbrella of an aide because Chamberlain did the same exact thing coming from a conciliatory meeting with Hitler. Can that be anything but superstition?
Witness the automatic comparison of every American military action *since* Vietnam *to* Vietnam. When magazines ask the question "Clinton's Vietnam?" to a fireworks display over Kosovo, it's time to reevaluate why you're drawing comparisons in the first place.
Witness how in every war, the armchair generals try to fight the *last* war. Persian Gulf II went off spectacularly despite a veritable legion of generals who had been in the same country only a decade earlier proclaiming that it was going to get ugly the second we came within sight of Baghdad.

Regarding the situation in Iraq:
The forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have showed themselves to be particularly swift at developing new tactics even as the insurgents, guerrillas and terrorists do. The martyrs have blown themselves up, I've heard, and the remaining ones want to live. They're getting smarter. Naturally, insurgencies and guerrilla warriors start apating from the get-go, out of pure necessity. It's a strategy that works well, the budding fourth-generation warfare that has been so frustrating to hierarchical militaries in the last several decades. But we're doing something very atypical of a hierarchical armed force: we're adapting extraordinarily quickly right along with them.

Our infantry, and might I add especially the Marines, are adapting their tactics to fight urban guerilla combat more effectively than any previous occupying army that I can recall. Casualty estimates based on previous urban camapigns suggested a much higher casualty rate than we're seeing now. My friend's Marine brother was among the first into Baghdad; he called it Operation Drive-By Shooting.

All insurgencies and, indeed, all nation-building occupations are difficult. But we've overcoem seemingly impossible obstacles before. By now many of you have probably read those articles from "Time" and "the Saturday Evening Post" from back in 1946 when all anyone had to say about the German occupation was that it was an unmitigated disaster. Some of you may even have seen the GOOD news coming out of Iraq that is almost entirely unreported by the mainstream media (the little successes that *really* win a big conflict are always glossed over by kill counts). You can find a good deal of that good news here:
http://chrenkoff.blogspot.com/2004/11/good-news-from-iraq-part-14.html

My question to all the naysayers who have blasted Bush (sometimes rightfully! Mistakes have been made, as always.) is this:

What if it all goes right in Iraq?

Did you hear this encouraging news on network television or CNN?
----------------------------
"[The] poll taken in Baghdad, Mosul and Dehok and published in Iraq on October 25. The poll probably over-sampled Sunnis, which makes its results even more striking:

"63% of Iraqis say that the withdrawal of American and allied forces will not be in the best interest of Iraq, it will undermine the work towards security and control of the country. 27% say that it would be in the best interest of Iraq. 9% had no opinion.

"58% say that terrorists do the kidnappings and assassination of police and soldiers. 9% say that patriots fighting for Iraq carry them out. 32% say ignorant Iraqis who have been brain washed & misled carry them out.

"89% said that the terrorism, kidnapping, beheadings and assassination of police and security forces do not help the freeing of Iraq and the building of a stable country. 6% said that it would help free Iraq and build stability. 4% had no opinion."
------------------------------
Is this a failure in action? Is this the fertile ground Mr. Brin's supposed "Al Jazeera's successful recruitment drive to create the first Pan Islamic unification in a thousand years" is supposed to be growing in?

Read the entire link. Civilization is not ending there or here. The end of the world (or of American leadership in the world) is not imminent. This kind of pessimism is not warranted, despite what many of you, Mr. Brin included, think about just how terrible Pres. Bush is.

And despite what Mr. Brin says, our dream of Pax Americana is not dead either. The sum total of wars in the world is actually *dropping*. Democratic movements are seeing the writing on the wall -- in Egypt, for example.
But how? Isn't President Bush creating a *less* stable world? Isn't he stirring up a hornet's nest that will hit us at home and abroad and keep chewing up American soldiers in Iraq until Iraq is left a dark pile of rubble within which a whole new generation of terrorists will be recruited?
These problems don't go away on their own. The ideas are being confronted, and the resources necessary to launch successful terrorist attacks in this hemisphere have apparently become prohibitively lacking despite a reported bumper crop of newly recruited terrorists.

The concept of a unipolar American world has not been accurate -- the nations of the world are far too reliant on one another, enmeshed in each others' economic fates -- but the peace our relative leadership has brought is very real, and it's not dead just because George W. Bush has been given the go-ahead by a majority (yes, *majority*) of the American people to keep it up.

Again, though, what if it all goes right in Iraq? What if we and the international community forge a strong democratic country after decades of control under a Stalinist genocidal tyrant? What if we together build a functioning government that brings prosperity right to the people? What if human rights flower in a new Iraq -- in the short and the long terms?
What if we end up with two democratic bases with two big borders on either side of Iran? What if democratic reform overcomes the very people Mr. Brin should have the *biggest* problem with (militant religious fundamentalists, you say?) in Iran? What if the events we've set in motion support freedom in Egypt?

Where's your famous admirable optimism, Mr. Brin?

Are things really so hopeless when you see an international outpouring of expertise and charity to rebuild Iraq even after we were so divided about whether an invasion was necessary (or such a good idea)?
Have we been too pessimistic in the past? Have we let slanted or short-sighted reporting fog our view of a brighter big picture?

You fellas want to talk about history repeating itself?

In Life magazine, on January 7, 1945, we boldly proclaimed that "Americans are losing the victory in Europe."
Nineteen days later, the Saturday Evening Post ran the headline: "How we botched the German occupation."

Here's a good one for you: "Never has American prestige in Europe been lower."
When do you suppose this line was written?

And does this theme sound familiar?
"We have got into this German job without understanding what we were tackling or why."

Do you see how the pessimist current can run so deep that we don't even see how much of a stunning success we are?
What if it all goes right?
------------------------------------
Finally, I have a warning for you to heed, Mr. Brin. It came from a condescending comment you made here.
You said: "But that immature and short-sighted sneering is proof of their underlying stupidity."

What if not sneering are you doing right now, calling rural America a bunch of "I-never-voted" Bubbas and looking down your nose at them because you're convinced it was pulipts at church that brought them all to the polls? Don't you think it's possible that the deep division in America just might have many of its roots in this kind of condescension?
Do you think this kind of behavior is going to draw them *away* from the neocons?
After how many losing elections has the minority party turned to openly mocking those groups who voted for the other side, pushing them away... and then won the next election?
The Democrats won't pick up seats in '06 if they keep on openly mocking these people. This is not constructive party-building. It's taking your ball and going home and hoping that in the next game they play by your rules.

Is it possible *you* too are short-sighted? I'm certain those reporters for Time and the SEP thought highly of their perception of events at the time.
You *have* been short-sighted on one very important issue very recently. Think about it. You built up a great expectation that urban America was going to sweep Bush and all these "Platonist Straussians" straight out of office. You say yourself, "it seemed so clear."
**But the naysayers were ALL WRONG. Despite all their patterns, despite all the signs that this was going to be a nice victory for Kerry (remember, high turnout favors Democrats and undecideds break 2:1 toward the challenger? Oops!), despite all the optimism that Kerry was going to be our next president, he loses by a few million votes.

Is that all it takes to sway your faith in our democracy? That your side *lost*?
It could be worse. You could be in the uncomfortable position of suddenly defending a President who won a court-contested electoral vote but clearly lost the popular vote. But that may come to pass soon anyway, what with ten thousand lawyers gearing up from Ohio to Florida to New Hampshire.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me for a little error:

The Life article was indeed on the correct date, but the Saturday Evening Post article was printed a full *year* and nineteen days later, on January 26, 1946.

- Bryan

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the ideal of Pax Americana will probably die with this Presidential term, but only in the sense that America will not be leading it.

The principles of Egalitarianism and Democracy emerge out of our disputes because they are the concepts that work. China has slowly edged more liberalized ideas into their society and has even accepted many free-market measures because social and economic freedoms make for a better society. France and Germany aren't going to give up Democracy to spite us, and in spite of Russia's Democratic difficulties, I doubt they will relapse into a Totalitarian state again.

America forged the way and served as a shining example for other nations to follow. Now that the world must form new alliances, stronger economic alliances, in response to our Unilateralist Military actions, they will continue to uphold those principles. The ideas are still there, still working, only we aren't leading the way any longer.

My only concern is the Middle East, where I agree a strong alliance is emerging among countries lacking these principles, but whatever union they form, it will have to deal with the Eurasian Union.

I look forward to your fleshed-out thoughts on this new emerging future.

Thanks,

rAs
ideonexus.com

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the ideal of Pax Americana will probably die with this Presidential term, but only in the sense that America will not be leading it.

The principles of Egalitarianism and Democracy emerge out of our disputes because they are the concepts that work. China has slowly edged more liberalized ideas into their society and has even accepted many free-market measures because social and economic freedoms make for a better society. France and Germany aren't going to give up Democracy to spite us, and in spite of Russia's Democratic difficulties, I doubt they will relapse into a Totalitarian state again.

America forged the way and served as a shining example for other nations to follow. Now that the world must form new alliances, stronger economic alliances, in response to our Unilateralist Military actions, they will continue to uphold those principles. The ideas are still there, still working, only we aren't leading the way any longer.

My only concern is the Middle East, where I agree a strong alliance is emerging among countries lacking these principles, but whatever union they form, it will have to deal with the Eurasian Union.

I look forward to your fleshed-out thoughts on this new emerging future.

Thanks,

rAsideonexus.com