Let Us Deal With The

Let Us Deal With The Way We Are Rather Than What We Hope To Be: Victor Davis Hansen, as always, is right on target with his latest editorial. There are a couple of passages that I thought were particularly noteworthy…

“Who, after all, enjoys cynicism — much less the pessimistic acknowledgment that humankind is impressed more with power than reason? Nevertheless, we know in our hearts that all these regimes see such kindness as weakness, and instead interpret the recent mention of American force, not merely as serious but almost in an eerie way as admirable.”

We like to think that humankind has gotten more civilized and that we’re no longer the same savage, brutal, race that we’ve been for thousands of years. However, that is merely an illusion we’re able to maintain by the subtle threat of force. Moreover, as Reagan said, trouble usually starts when people and nations believe that the price of aggression of cheap. Once nations reach that point, moving troops to their borders will achieve more than a decade of negotiations. Here’s a little more of Hansen’s column…

“…With leisure and comfort also comes a distance from physical hardship and ignorance of just how brutal life was for Americans until the last few decades — and still is for billions abroad. By the same token, education and learning create a brotherhood of enlightened minds that profess to assume all behavior is governed by the dictates of reason, rather than by superstition, prejudice, or religion. Such often-welcomed thinking among our elites in academia, government, and the media can nevertheless be as arrogant as it is dangerous — haughty in that it assumes that books and classes have all the answers to man’s fate, perilous in its wrongheaded assumptions that the rest of the world either wishes to, or in fact will, join them and so shed its age-old trust in the tribe, the patriarch, the holy man, or the creep with sunglasses and a holster.”

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As Hansen implies, we cannot merely talk out our differences with every nation because many of them are not run by truly “rational” people. When we make the assumption that we can work out a dispute with Saddam Hussein over weapons of mass destruction the same way we can settle a trade dispute with Canada, we are being fools. There’s nothing wrong with trying to work out peaceful solutions with our enemies, on the contrary, it’s the right way to start things out. But on issues that we cannot afford to compromise on, like the support of terrorist groups or the development of WMD, we have to be ready to take action when negotiations fail. We also have to recognize the sad fact that annihilating Iraq’s army and blowing Saddam’s head off will give us more leverage with people like Crown Prince Abdullah and Yasser Arafat than all the talk and appeals to reason ever could. Like Teddy Roosevelt said “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Eventually, if the soft speech doesn’t work, it’s time to wield that stick. We’ve reached that point with Iraq and Israel has long since come to that juncture with Arafat. At least with those two tyrants, the time for “hoping against hope” is over…

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