Monday, September 24, 2007
"Realism" in Action
Some time this weekend, I glanced at the Drudge Report to see whether there was anything there I might want to blog and was astounded to see links to two particular stories there at the same time. (I was too busy at the moment to get the headlines or collect the actual links.)
One story, alarming, but hardly surprising, discussed the fact that Syria has been caught red-handed with nuclear material imported from North Korea, with whom we've made so much recent "progress" in our diplomatic efforts to end her nuclear weapons program.
Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.And yet, as of September 19, we are preparing to sit at the negotiating table with the nation that supplied our ally's enemy with material to manufacture weapons! It would have been more effective to have simply bought it all ourselves!
The attack was launched with American approval on September 6 after Washington was shown evidence the material was nuclear related, the well-placed sources say. [bold added]
The other headline? We're inviting Syria to regional "peace" talks!
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has fleshed out her ideas for the conference in talks with the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators, including her decision to invite the Arab League committee grouping the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. [link added]This reminds me of the following portrait of the "realist" school of foreign policy painted by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein in the Summer 2007 issue of The Objective Standard in their article, "Neoconservative Foreign Policy: An Autopsy":
"Realism" holds that all nations are, in one form or another, "rational" actors that pursue common interests such as money, power, and prestige. Given such common goals among nations, "realists" hold that, no matter what another nation's statements or actions toward the United States, there is always a chance for a diplomatic deal in which both sides make concessions; any other nation will be "rational" and realize that an all-out military conflict with superpower America is not in its interest. Thus, America pursuing its "national interest" means a constant diplomatic game of toothless resolutions, amorphous "pressure," and dressed-up bribery to keep the world's assorted threatening nations in line. The only time "realists" are willing to abandon this game in favor of using genuine military force against threatening regimes is in the face of some catastrophic attack. Otherwise, they regard it as not in our "national interest" to deal with other nations by military means. Why take such a drastic step when a successful deal may be just around the corner? [bold added]It is jaw-droppingly amazing that our behavior towards Syria and North Korea could be regarded by anyone as "realistic". And yet it is.
Rational Moral Judgement as Mortal Sin
In a comment, Joe pointed out to me last night a post by Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert Comic strip, which is basically a long, sarcastic rant damning Americans for not wanting the Iranian thug Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia University. Here is how it ends:
If Ahmadinejad thinks he can be our friend by honoring our heroes and opening a dialog, he underestimates our ability to misinterpret him. Fucking idiot. I hate him.My initial, innocent reaction to this last night was, "That is a truly amazing feat of context-dropping, matched only by its level of hatred of the West."
I have to take back the first half since I was only half-right. Considering Ahmadinejad's repeated denials of the Holocaust, promises to make one happen, preparations to do so, and continual acts of war against the United States, I see no innocent or decent way to entertain the notion that perhaps Ahmadinejad wants to honor our heroes or be a friend.
And this piece goes even further: It spares not one ounce of vitriol for anyone who won't give Ahmadinejad the benefit of the doubt -- even though there is no rational basis for doubting that this man is a monster. Were I to summarize this essay, it would be as follows: "Who the hell are you to judge Ahmadinejad?"
Or, as Scott Adams might put it: So, sure. Mahmoud may rant about killing the Jews and work to build missiles tipped with nuclear bombs, but he wants to speak here, so don't you dare judge him, you fuckwad, until after he has said his piece, if you ever do. How dare you challenge someone when he says, "Trust me."
It is as if Adams sees judging a man as a monster as a sin worse than actually being one.
Needless to say, Adams attracted lots of criticism for his piece which he "answers" sarcastically today, claiming falsely that he does not argue for "moral equivalence" among the nations he discusses. He does see all nations acting out of his amoral notion of "self-interest". Yeah. That's completely different.
And he ends today's rant by wondering aloud whether we should overthrow the government of the United States.
This is so wrong and so disappointing I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it....
Although the fact that I link somewhere else is not an endorsement of the views expressed at that site, I find myself having to remove the link to The Dilbert Blog from my sidebar. For the same reason I don't want Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to desecrate my country by even stepping foot in it, much less gloating over the WTC site, I don't want a daily reminder on my blog, which is a labor of love, that that piece of filth has such a friend in America.
A Spot of Humor
After the first two bits of today's post, I feel the need for a laugh. Thanks to reader Adrian Hester, that need is very easy to address.
Take a gander at the comics at The Perry Bible Fellowship. Some of these will make you laugh out loud. This one -- a perfectly work-safe, yet laugh-out-loud strip set in a nude beach -- shows the subtlety of the artist.
For future reference, you can find this site again by going to the "Humor" section from "Some Links" in the sidebar.
Today: Corrected some typos.