July 5, 2003

Patience Please, An American Empire Takes Time

"It is odd to see sophisticated observers lapse into moral equivalence-as if an elected government, with an independent judiciary and a free press, that is armed with nuclear weapons is on the same moral plane as an autocracy, with no opposition or transparency. It is not the weapons per se that cause fear, but the nature of the government that possesses them." -- Victor Davis Hanson

One of the mildly exasperating things about the plethora of news media available now is having to wade through a much more extensive swamp of fetid posturing and vain prognostications on a daily basis. The stalemate of this in the quagmire of that consumes these imposters. The disaster of beginning weakly and the hubris of winning resoundingly confounds their timorous timetables. The warnings not to be too weak in struggle nor to overbearing in victory erupt from their mouths like gouts of steam from a Yellowstone blowhole ringed round with slackjawed credulous groundlings. The endless whines about the least loss of innocence in the inadvertent slaughter of an innocent slink out of their yawps as dependably as hamsters multiplying in a cage of some kindergarten.

The war must be won in a week! If not, abject failure and the military must go to its room.

The peace must be won in a day. If not, rioters will strip the country bare and another Vietnam will spring up from the desert sands like the ghost of Christmas past.

We must pacify a foreign country and make them love us in a month, or, well, we're just not good enough or smart enough or nice enough.

The usual whining chorus starts these off-key and historically flat refrains, and, like a bad rap group with ears of tin and hearts of slush, repeats it over and over and over again until even the more clear-eyed among us starts to think, 'Humm, it's not a catchy song but since everybody seems to be playing it in heavy rotation, maybe there's something in it.'

The idea here is that repetition creates credibility. But to believe something merely because it is repeated from seemingly different angles and seemingly different sources is not, in general, a solid means by which to develop a view of the history that is now unfolding before us. No, taking something as writ because it is said... that sort of attitude is not the kind that marks the deep thinker and man of conviction and character, but only the man whose mind is a thin and fragile reed, the man who on honeydew has fed for far too long.

And yet who can blame this multitude of wafflerers among us. We've all been feeding on flesh of the honeydew for too many decades. Sweet and soft mush has been the mainstay of our cultural diet since the rise of the Monkees. Not only

that, but a generation that has been drenched in the moist sop of the marijuana and psychedelic cultures, has schooled yet another two generations in the value of tofu over Toynbee and to admire Gurdjieff far above Gibbon. We've been, in essence, on a binge of soft-thinking, soft-hoping, and soft Tofutti covered philosophical slop for so long it is little wonder we haven't the patience of a June Bug in heat when it comes to having, holding and controlling this empire that has fallen to us.

We are deep into the denial/avoidance stage of acknowledging our current role on the world's stage. Why? Because, man, woman, and child, we are just nice guys. We don't want to cost anyone any pain, difficulty, or money in the course of giving them freedom from some of the worst tyrannies in the history of the world. Nope. Indeed, we want to spare them anything unpleasant even if it means bankrupting the nation and sacrificing the lives of our soldiers in bits and pieces over a long period of time. Heaven forbid we do anything that creates less love for America in a world that would cut its throat and pillage its purse if it got a chance.

Over and over we see the weakest among our so-called political and cultural leaders advise more restraint, more sacrifice, and bigger checks sent out into the bottom cesspits of the world. Over and over we see our shabby celebrities plead for their fellow citizens to open up "their" wallets and send "their" sons and daughters out into the world. Not to make the world safe for America, but to make the world love America. Since these celebrities thrive on the fan love they've bathed in for all of their wretched lives, it is little wonder they feel that more love for America means a better world. After all, more love for them means more record, book, or movie sales and hence a fatter payday for their already overfattened egos. Why wouldn't that work the same for a nation? The nation that bases its foreign policy on the thoughts of those good at pretending to be others or on the lyrics of popular songs, is a nation overdue for a mugging at the hands of history.

Over and over we read, see and hear the slack-minded and morally bankrupt pundits of one shade or another counseling more attention to the corrupt United Nations (a grant-in-aid program for the most useless intellectuals of its component members),and working through the wiser and older cultures of the EU (that body that probably hasn't 200 years of stable government among all of its countries combined). Above all, these constipated blatherers counsel the restraint of the American Armed Forces from any duties except stopping floods, feeding famines, and acting as targets for the scum of the earth's many scummy nations and half-baked civic and celestial religions. But then, why shouldn't these career parasites counsel this? After all, they are basking in the attention of a content-starved commentary industry and the increased consulting fees that flow from a five-minute oral slop fest with Aaron Brown. Why would they want to bolt from the trough that feeds their monumental egos and their miniscule intellects so consistently?

With a few, and only a few, exceptions those people who pass for American intellectuals today are just that; passing for intellectuals. Who believes that, listening to someone such as, say, Howard Dean, that they are listening to anything approaching a first-rate mind? John Kerry, that horse faced Lothario of women with more money than discernment, as a person to lead this nation into the encounter with history it has already begun? Hardly. Instead perhaps that fountainhead of Democratic Party future vision, Al Sharpton, can be seen as the man to put the world to rights. Politicians, thinkers, pundits, and palaverers. All weak and empty and capable, at this juncture, of mere repetition of obsolete reformist notions that were due for the ashpit of history by the mid-1970s. If this is the best the Democrats and the Left can muster, and it is, then let the backhoes be brought forth and the burial of this bloating hulk begin.

Those who are passing for "celebrities who think" are also just passing. But in their passing, like comets on a last plunge into the sun, they throw off bright plumes of hot gas against the limitless space of their ignorance. Will Tim Robbins be remembered more for his films or his feeble notions of "free speech?" Neither. He'll be lucky to be a footnote in a pass/fail master's thesis at USC in the year 2022. No, not even the dulcet tones of that aged harridan Barbra can save America for the love she so richly wants to absorb into her far-too ample self.

None of these types, these cheap 25-cents and two Wheaties box-tops cereal premium brains has the wit or the wisdom or the vision to see that their snug little liberal world faded on the falling of the towers, and the only question waiting for America to decide at this moment is whether it is ready to step forward and assume the burdens and gather the rewards of a global empire.

For this is where, at last, the rag-tag haters of America from the Arabian peninsula have led us, and it is a road that now must be traveled. We can travel it weakly and with trepidation -and be killed and crippled as a people and a nation - or we can travel it in strength and with a terrible purpose that brooks no terrorist response without a terrible price being enacted immediately and without reservation.

But will we do this? I do not believe, looking about the landscape of America at the mid-point of the year 2003, that we have yet reached a consensus to proceed as a nation down that path. But soon, with I fear, another brutal and perhaps most costly attack on American soil, we will find within ourselves the commitment to go forward. But we will go as first at least as reluctant imperialist.

We are, after all, Americans. We like to have out little pleasant lives in our little pleasant neighborhoods, villages, towns and cities. We like to have our families happy and our jobs secure and our leisure abundant. We like to have enough money to spend and enough to put away for our old age. We like vacations, and Little League, and puppies and kittens and cute kids. We don't like running about the world, putting out other people's brushfires. We dislike giving people a democracy which, since they didn't have the metal to fight for it, they cannot appreciate. We dislike less sitting around handing out fat checks and getting our soldiers shot as thanks. We'd probably just as soon sit at home and let the rest of the world get sucked down the drain of history which, without the support of the United States in treasure and in lives, would be its fate. We'll have our empire by and by, but what we'd really like is just to be able to have a really nice 4th of July cookout, a day at the beach, about $500,000 worth of fireworks and then early to bed every day of the year.

What we're going to get instead is an Empire. And we'd better start getting good at it.

Instead of nothing but aid going out, we'd better start to see a little tribute coming back in. Time to start to insist on some of those "loans" to the wretched of the Earth getting paid back instead of written off. Time to think about imposing a 30% of all oil profits from Iraq for the next 20 years as a way of showing some gratitude for being saved from having nothing for the next 20 years.

Instead of having our troops getting picked off by scum overseas and picked on by traitors here at home in pursuit of office, we'd better start picking off scum in large numbers by land, sea and air assault overseas, and stop electing those who would put them at greater risk once in office here. It is said that we can't kill all the terrorists in the world, but I have a great faith in the ability of the ammunition factories of this democracy's arsenals to tool up to the task. I think it is about time that, as Empires do, we start to push the general concept towards various belligerent nations with more testosterone than sense that if they don't like our Stealth bombers, they'll really hate our ballistic missile submarines. I hope we will not have to arrange a demonstration, but considering the mentality we are dealing with it would not surprise me if we did.

I have had conversations with various acquaintances about this need to become as Romans and they always caution "Remember what happened to Rome." I remember well what happened to Rome, but it took a few centuries to build and many more to burn. These days I'd settle for a few centuries of Empire. By that time the rest of the world might just have enough time, especially the infant cultures of Europe and the ossified cultures of the Middle East, to grow up into decent, civilized places where all the citizens on God's green earth could have a nice 4th of July cookout without worrying that some demented second-cousin is going to turn up with a couple of pounds of TNT strapped to his chest and a deeply confused notion of God boiling over in his brain.

A decent goal for a decent Empire. For once.

Posted by Vanderleun at July 5, 2003 4:58 PM
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