Thursday, July 15, 2004

A Good Response

Peggy Noonan wroate a response to the letter making the rounds of the blogosphere, including a stop on this humble board, about the idea that the electorate might choose Kerry over Bush out of a desire for a break from the war.

Ms. Noonan has been a supporter of the war effort for as far as I can recall (I really have to expand my reading). Her recognition of the long-term benefits of the Iraq invasion have always been focused on the benefits to the United States:

I do not feel America is right to attempt to help spread democracy in the world because it is our way and therefore the right way. Nor do I think America should attempt to encourage it because we are Western and feel everyone should be Western. Not everyone should be Western, and not everything we do as a culture, a people or an international force is right.

Rather, we have a national-security obligation to foster democracy in the world because democracy tends to be the most peaceful form of government. Democracies tend to be slower than dictatorships to take up arms, to cross borders and attempt to subdue neighbors, to fight wars. They are on balance less likely to wreak violence upon the world because democracies are composed of voters many of whom are parents, especially mothers, who do not wish to see their sons go to war. Democracy is not only idealistic, it is practical.

I always try to give recognition to people who can express my view better than I can, so thank you Ms. Noonan.

She continues on into the article with an analysis of what I'll call "War Fatigue", or perhaps an extrapolation from the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times,":

What I wrote about a few weeks ago was my fear that the American people have grown or are growing tired of the heightened drama of the times. Americans like drama in their lives--they like graduations and first jobs and prizes and the birth of a baby in the family; they like triathalons and great stories and local mysteries. They like movement and action on a personal level. But they do not want it on a historical level if they can avoid it. They don't want to send their sons, or daughters, off to war. They don't like that kind of excitement, or they don't like it for long. This is part of why we used to be called Isolationists. We weren't and aren't--we just have a bias for peace. Can that bias be overcome? Of course. Pearl Harbor overcame it. The Soviet desire to expand and impose communism overcame it. Sept. 11 did too.
Which gets us to Mr. Bush, and Mr. Kerry, and which of the two is likelier to make things historically boring again.

Ms. Noonan sees the problem for Bush as failing to use soft speach in addition to the big stick, almost to the point of taking an unseemly joy out of the war.

While she does have a point, I would say that another matter that needs to be attended to is that the people need to accomodate to the reality that the US government does not control everything that happens in the world. The expectation that the President can by fiat return the world to its original boring state has always been an illusion. The only reason that it lasted so long is that no one has called us on it. The illusion was so strong that it slumbered on through two terrorist bombings on our soil, one foreign contrived (WTC 1993), and the other home-grown (Oklahoma City, 1995).

Essentially, the issue in the upcoming election is who can do the most to create real peace for us and future generations. For the condidates, the problem is going to be that they may have to lead, to convince, a war weary populace to have the patience to carry through the tasks necesarry to acheive real peace rather than the ephemera of the previous twenty-five years.

No comments: