The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Choice

The last six years have been a renaissance for “peace activists.” Positioned atop their high moral plateau, they tell us “no more war.” As if there is anyone, save a psychopathic few, who is in favor of bloodshed. These years have also been a renaissance for “human rights activists,” positioned even higher on the plateau, who regularly condemn not the suicidal killers who routinely and purposely kill and main innocents, but rather those, who in trying to stop them, inadvertently kill an innocent or occasionally become overzealous in their treatment of these psychopaths.

On top of the moral plateau, extreme sanctimony is rarely questioned. After all, all violence is bad. Only reasoned negotiations, and failing that, “sanctions,” are morally acceptable.

Ralph Peters comments:
Billions of words have been hurled at Sudan's government. The misery in Darfur not only continues but deepens. While intellectuals wrestled with compound sentences, Darfur degenerated from selective oppression to savage anarchy.

Legions of columnists and commentators have deplored Robert Mugabe's monstrous rule in Zimbabwe. But none of the hand-wringing by American, European or even African intellectuals restrained one fist or stopped one club in midair. Guess who "won" that election.

Regiments of professors and pundits have bemoaned China's gobbling of Tibet for half a century. The result? Beijing cracked down even harder.

"Brave" columnists wrote countless columns bemoaning the suffering of the Kurds and the Shia under Saddam Hussein. Their earnest paragraphs didn't save a single life.

Only when better men acted did the surviving victims of one of the world's worst dictatorships glimpse freedom - an imperfect freedom but better than a mass grave.

Nothing positive is going to happen in Sudan or Zimbabwe (or Tibet) until rule-of-law states take action. As outraged activists scribble on, Beijing blithely continues supporting these and other rogue regimes (and our president crawls to the Olympics - it's as if FDR had rushed to the games in Berlin).

It’s easy for the activists to target representative democracies when they use violence to protect themselves or as a last resort when words fail. Collateral damage is equated with purposeful terror. After all, we should know better. Guantanamo is equated with al Queda torture chambers. After all, brutal killers deserve full habeas corpus rights, even though if released, they would happily slit the throats of the activists who support those rights.

Representative democracies are generally populated by reasonable people who would like nothing more than to resolve all matters peaceably. They want to support human rights and want to treat everyone with respect and dignity. Some of those democracies have, in fact, chosen to abandon violent confrontation at all cost but do so with the certain knowledge that other, more responsible democracies will step up when the going get tough.

Peters continues:
Pacifists mean well. But they're a dictator's best friends. The man who won't fight for justice abets the terrorist, the tyrant and the concentration-camp guard.

All decent men want peace. But wise men know that not all men are decent.

The use of the pen is an indulgence we can afford only because better men and women grip the sword on our behalf.

The danger, I believe, is when a leader of a representative democracy begins to believe that the pen or the spoken word can somehow keep evil men at bay. When talking is the only option, when understanding the grievances of psychopathic killers and fanatics is the only strategy, when a subtle slide toward moral equivalence gives the actions of psychopaths the same weight as the actions of those who try to defeat them, we are headed toward a world of more violence, not less. Because in the end, even the activist will have to choose—subjugation and death against freedom and life. And the longer the choice is delayed, the more violent the outcome when the choice is finally made.

An aside:

Richard Fernandez (Wretchard) of the Belmont Club writes:
Barack Obama has reacted to the Iranian missile tests by suggesting diplomacy and negotiations.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that Iran’s missile tests highlight the need for direct diplomacy as well as tougher threats of economic sanctions and strong incentives to persuade Tehran to change its behavior.

Obama criticized the Bush administration for not engaging Iran in direct talks and for using bellicose language against the government while at the same time increasing exports to Iran.

Iran has been the subject of nothing but diplomacy. After the US embassy was seized, the US used diplomacy. Despite continuous attacks on American soldiers by Iranian officers and personnel, the US has used diplomacy. The entire Iranian nuclear program has been handled through diplomacy, in conjunction with European allies and the United Nations. A whole raft of Security Council Resolutions have directed at the issue of Iranian behavior. America is not at war with Iran. It doesn’t occupy a single inch of Iranian territory. It might be relevant to point out that once upon a time the US actually had diplomats in Teheran in the form of an actual embassy.

It’s a little disturbing when a major Presidential candidate’s first instincts after the Iranians test 9 long missiles are to blame his government for not engaging in direct talks. The real story here is to ask why, if Teheran has no WMD ambitions, it has any ballistic missile program at all. Does anyone actually believe these expensive missiles are going to be fitted with conventional warheads? That would be so cost ineffective as to be implausible. Any reasonable person, looking at the situation, would regard the firing of the 9 missiles with alarm. I think BHO’s reactions are almost unnatural.

And so, one candidate for President of the United States suggests that we talk and then talk some more, and continue talking until … what exactly? Until events finally force us to make a choice that doesn’t involve talking, so long delayed that our adversary has nuclear tipped missiles at the ready. A more violent outcome to be sure, because the choice was delayed.

Is that good judgment and strong leadership? Time will tell.