"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Israel–Strength, Resolve, And Implacable Will

It is not surprising that Republicans and Democrats differ over Iran; and while some critics may cast these differences in a geopolitical light – power centers and vacuums, rising and falling autocracies, radicalization, separatism, and the demise of the nation-state – they miss the fundamental issue.  Democrats believe in the perfectibility of Man, his basic goodness and reasonableness, and the inevitable progress of human society.

New Age

Republicans believe that human nature is the ineluctable engine for human activity which has always been territorial, self-interested, and expansionist.  Man is not at all perfectible and evil can never be eliminated but only managed.

This argument is not at all new, for divisions among Manicheans, Neo-Platonists, Gnostics, and Pauline Christians characterized the early church.  Augustine wrestled with theodicy – the seemingly impossible existence of evil in a world created by an all-good, beneficent God.

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Whether life is meaningful or meaningless has been no less of an issue.  Philosophers like Nietzsche was convinced that life was indeed meaningless and that the only validation of humanity was the expression of human will.  His Übermensch rejected the entire concept of good and evil and acted alone, independent of any moral context. Milton, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer wondered about the existence of free will; and whether man was ever in control of his own destiny able to effect positive change.  The Grand Inquisitor challenges the returned Christ and contends that Man only wants miracles, mystery, and authority; and if free will does in fact exist, he wants no part of it.

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Shakespeare was a nihilist who understood that there was no profound purpose or meaning in any human act; that history was an expression of what Jan Kott called ‘The Grand Mechanism’, a perpetual motion machine driven by human nature and and always producing the same, predictable results.  What interested Shakespeare was simply the seemingly limitless variations in the way human beings expressed their self-interest, she-bear protectiveness, and territorial imperatives.  Tolstoy had no use for the Great Man view of human history and concluded that each individual decision – such as Napoleon’s commands at Borodino – was so conditioned by the millions of random and purposeful events which preceded it, that it was in itself meaningless.

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There was no such thing as progress said Shakespeare implicitly in all his Histories and Tolstoy expressed explicitly in his Second Prologue of War and Peace. Mankind was not on the way to a better world nor to a worse one.  The world would continue to revolve and men along with it.

With even a cursory look at history, it is difficult to come to any other conclusion.  Ever since the first civilizations formed at Mohenjo-daro and in the Fertile Crescent, history has repeated itself.  No age could be consider better or worse than any other.  The Pax Romana lasted 200 years and was a result of a particularly felicitous combination of Roman decentralized administration, a pre-Machiavellian understanding of power, savvy, intelligent, and ruthless emperors, and a respect and tolerance for religion and local customs.  In other words there was nothing particularly good about the Roman peace.  It was simply an aberration in the cycle; and life after the fall of the Roman Empire was just as bloody as its conquest.

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Why, then, should anyone be surprised at the events in the Middle East of today? It should not be a surprise that the particular configuration of autocracy, repression, marginalization, and poverty drove people into the streets and then, quickly thereafter into ethnic and religious clans determined to get vengeance, retribution, a cut of the pie, and a reordered social order.

It should not be a surprise that resurgent religious radicalism is filling the vacuum left by failed nation-states; and that new constellations of power and influence are being formed across national borders.  Nor should it be a surprise that the same fights over territory, resources, and religious dominance are recurring just as aggressively as they did during the War of the Roses or the Hundred Years War.

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Where in all this hubbub were there diplomatic solutions?  Of course kings, emperors, and popes concluded treaties which they hoped were to their advantage.  None of them believed that peace was a moral issue or that Christian compassion and respect were values of a higher order. Monarchs concluded treaties as means to ends.  They never once lost sight of their desires to reign ascendant.

One once had hope for the Trobriand Islanders which looked to be perhaps the only truly peaceful, collaborative, and compassionate society on earth and one which gave the rest of the world hope; until Margaret Mead was outed for having made shit up.

The Twentieth Century appeared to have had more than its share of evil; and if anyone had maintained the notion of human progress before it, they certainly gave up all hope after.  Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mobutu, the Hutus, and Charles Taylor.  The list is endless.  Neville Chamberlain will be remembered for only one thing – his ignorant, idealistic capitulation to Adolph Hitler.  Churchill knew that the man was not to be trusted and that Chamberlain and his claques were dreamers.  Progressives in Western Europe and the United States believed that Soviet Communism was the way forward – a true democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people – and so enamored were they of the very idea of social harmony that the shut their eyes to the gulags.

Infrared Congo

No sooner did the 21st Century start than Muslim zealots blew up the Twin Towers and unleashed Islamic terrorism around the world.  The Arab Spring was only a cough and sputter in radical Muslim expansionism.  The world is a far more dangerous place than it was when the US and the Soviet Union had nuclear missiles pointed at each other.

President Obama and the State Department are dumbfounded, flummoxed, and totally disoriented by ISIS.  We are our of our league because his administration fails to see the inevitability of ISIS. He cannot seen to get it through his head that they do not play by the same rules nor by the same moral precepts.  The ends justify the means and the establishment of a glorious heaven-on-earth Caliphate is worth everything.  Why is this such a surprise?

Despite ancient history, European history, Asian history, and modern American history, progressives in this country still believe that negotiation, reasonable treatment, and treaties made on the basis of mutual interest will prevail. Eventually – and it may take a while – the world will be a peaceful, harmonious place.

Benjamin Netanyahu knows that this will never, ever be the case.  Arabs not only want to annihilate the State of Israel but to kill all Jews.  He has never once caved in to the pusillanimous and craven liberalism of the Democratic Party of the United States.  He has bombed Hamas and Gaza to smithereens knowing full well that they would be back, but he would be ready to scorch their earth again and as many times as necessary.

RADICAL ISLAM

Union General Sherman did not only want to defeat the South, he wanted to humiliate it.  He ravaged and burned and marched his cavalry through the streets of Southern towns which were iconic in their cultural importance.  This is what will happen if you try this again. Netanyahu has certainly studied the Civil War and the tactics of William Tecumseh Sherman.

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Iran cannot be trusted. They have never given any sign of trustworthiness since 1979. ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, and hundreds of other militant Islamic groups cannot be trusted.  They want the destruction of Western, godless, materialistic society.

Netanyahu is right and should be listened to.  He is the only Western world leader who gets it.

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