Jewish World Review May 8, 2003 / 6 Iyar, 5763

Bob Tyrrell

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The only intellectual force in Western history to gain moral superiority by being wrong


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | In September 2002, the Bush administration released a 31-page strategy statement that took cognizance of the new type of international conflict facing the civilized powers. It was this national strategy statement that got us to where we are today with two rogue nations, Taliban Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, disarmed and other rogue nations feeling the heat. Terrorists everywhere have sobered up a bit.

The Truman administration's policy of "Containment," proclaimed in 1947 and meant to contain the Soviet Union and its aggressive puppets, was replaced by the Bush administration in 2002 with a policy of "Pre-emption," for after September 2001 the administration's policy planners had noticed that "America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones." Coming to the point, the new national strategy statement noted that, "The gravest danger our nation faces lies at the crossroads of (religious) radicalism and technology." Thus in such a world, "We cannot let our enemies strike first."

The Truman administration's 1947 policy of "Containment" was opposed by much of the American left for decades, and a whole school of egghead thought rose up complaining that it was the Truman administration that had made Soviet communism hostile to America, not Stalin or communist ideology. Now, of course, that which passes for the American left today is carping that American recklessness and self-indulgence have set the terrorists against us.

Susan Sontag, the literary egotist, adumbrated the complaint immediately after Sept. 11, when in The New Yorker she sermonized: "The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality (!) and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this (the suicide attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon) was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?"

Since Sontag's bull, the chorus from the left has grown against "Pre-emption" and led to many very stupid statements about the futility of opposing terrorism and rogue state's with military force. A memorable example came from Professor James Galbraith in the American Prospect just a few days into our forces' dance through Iraq, in which he pronounced the war practically lost and suggested that we salvage our "disastrous position" and "accept a cease-fire, which would lead to the withdrawal of coalition forces under safe conduct." Safe conduct from whom -- the Iraqi army then on the run?

The left's complaints against America -- its foreign policy, its economy, its culture -- have expanded steadily for five decades. With the presidential campaign of Sen. George McGovern in 1972, the left's influence has suffused much of the Democratic Party and many cultural institutions. In fact, many of the Democrats seeking the presidential nomination at this very hour intone the left's complaints against American culture and now even in this hour of vindication Bush's policy of "Pre-emption."

This colossal record of error makes one wonder. The left has been wrong for so long and about so much. Remember in the 1980s and 1990s the widespread claim on the left about how as an economic power America was kaput? Remember the claptrap about how we were running out of resources? Read the intellectually indispensable Paul Krugman in his New York Times column. He spouts this stuff even now.

The left has been wrong for so long that no knowledgeable observer even expects its pontificators to be right. I do not believe many members of the left expect to be right. Yet after all these decades of erroneous pronouncements, the American left remains both intellectually and morally superior to you and me.

The American left is the only intellectual force in Western history to gain moral superiority by being wrong. In world history, I can think of only one other movement that has gained moral and intellectual superiority in this way, the mullahs of Islamic fundamentalism.

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JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

05/01/03: Dinning with Tom Wolfe: More lessons in nusual aspects of American life, hitherto ignored
04/28/03: Ambuscade at scholarly frontier
04/21/03: Stars in search of a galaxy
04/10/03: Baghdad Bob and Tom Daschle
03/31/03: When the media itself becomes the story
03/20/03: Revealed! Estrada is a gifted linguist -- a Japanese-American fluent in Spanish
03/14/03: Genuinely in charge
03/10/03: Stalin and Saddam
03/05/03: They just cannot stomach a protracted alliance with the Bushies
02/25/03: Identity gridlock
02/18/03: People calling Dean a fruitcake are underestimating his political savvy
02/13/03: The new political establishment
01/30/03: The time is now
01/27/03: Witnessing self-love by people completely incapable of self-criticism
01/21/03: Of course our kiddies are depressed
01/13/03: Why is it that Official Washington still believes that a tax reduction means a revenue reduction?
01/02/03: Missing Moi
12/27/02: The grizzled and menacing-looking senator in Confederate drag is a Dem
12/24/02: Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land
12/20/02: Under fire, Lott showed an ignobleness that is embarrassing
11/26/02: Bartley's enemies have been routed
11/14/02: Clarence Thomas and the segregationist Mississippi sheriff
11/07/02: I muffed up
10/31/02: Is the American university turning its back on change, on progress?
10/24/02: So why aren't the Dems buoyant?
10/17/02: Mourning the loss of the "yellow-belly"
10/10/02: American politics at its most ignominious
10/03/02: A man above the law, a bully
09/26/02: Is Bob Greene a victim of an anti-Clinton backlash?
09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and
09/12/02: Chickens and poseurs
09/05/02: Sympathizing with the Europols
08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
08/22/02: Public persons frivoling with serious matters
08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
02/21/02: Mike Tyson: Made for Washington?
02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies . Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
01/24/02: Hucksters will move on to make their next marks
01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
08/16/01: They claim to be doing so much good
08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The G-dphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate