A civilization that has become just a dream.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
I recently had a dream that British marines fought back, like their forefathers of old, against criminals and pirates. When taken captive, they proved defiant in their silence. When released, they talked to the tabloids with restraint and dignity, and accepted no recompense.
I dreamed that a kindred German government, which best knew the wages of appeasement, cut-off all trade credits to the outlaw Iranian mullahs — even as the European Union joined the Americans in refusing commerce with this Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic, and thuggish regime.
NATO countries would then warn Iran that their next unprovoked attack on a vessel of a member nation would incite the entire alliance against them in a response that truly would be of a “disproportionate” nature.
In this apparition of mine, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, in Syria at the time, would lecture the Assad regime that there would be consequences to its serial murdering of democratic reformers in Lebanon, to fomenting war with Israel by means of its surrogates, and to sending terrorists to destroy the nascent constitutional government in Iraq.
She would add that the United States could never be friends with an illegitimate dictatorship that does its best to destroy the only three democracies in the region. And then our speaker would explain to Iran that a U.S. Congresswoman would never detour to Tehran to dialogue with a renegade government that had utterly ignored U.N. non-proliferation mandates and daily had the blood of Americans on its hands.
Fellow Democrats like John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and Harry Reid would add that, as defenders of the liberal tradition of the West, they were not about to call a retreat before extremist killers who behead and kidnap, who blow up children and threaten female reformers and religious minorities, and who have begun using poison gas, all in an effort to annihilate voices of tolerance in Iraq.
These Democrats would reiterate that they had not authorized a war to remove the psychopathic Saddam Hussein only to allow the hopeful country to be hijacked by equally vicious killers. And they would warn the world that their differences with the Bush administration, whatever they might be, pale in comparison to the shared American opposition to the efforts of al Qaeda, the Taliban, Syria, and Iran to kill any who would advocate freedom of the individual.
Those in Congress would not deny that Congress itself had voted for a war against Saddam on 23 counts — the vast majority of which had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction and remain as valid today as when they were approved in 2002.
Congressional Democrats would make clear that, while in the interests of peace they might wish to talk to Iran, they had no idea how to approach a regime that subsidizes Holocaust denial, threatens to wipe out Israel, defies the world in seeking nuclear weapons, trains terrorists to kill Americans in Iraq, engages in piracy and hostage taking, and butchers or incarcerates any of its own who question the regime.
In this dream, I heard our ex-presidents add to this chorus of war-time solidarity. Jimmy Carter reminded Americans that radical Islam had started in earnest on his watch, out of an endemic hatred of all things Western. I imagined him explaining that America began being called the “Great Satan” during the presidential tenure of a liberal pacifist, not a Texan conservative.
Bill Clinton would likewise add that he bombed Iraq, and Afghanistan, and East Africa without congressional or U.N. approval because of the need for unilateral action against serial terrorism and the efforts of radicals to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
George Bush Sr. would in turn lecture the media that it was once as furious at him for not removing Saddam as it is now furious at his son for doing so; that it was once as critical of him for sending too many troops to the Middle East as it is now critical of his son for sending too few; that it was once as hostile to the dictates of his excessively large coalition as it is now disparaging of his son’s intolerably small alliance; that it was once as dismissive of his old concern about Iranian influence in Iraq as it is now aghast at his son’s naiveté about Tehran’s interest in absorbing southern Iraq; and that it was once as repulsed by his own cynical realism as it is now repulsed by his son’s blinkered idealism.
I also dreamed that the British government only laughed at calls to curtail studies of the Holocaust in deference to radical Muslims, and instead repeatedly aired a documentary on its sole Victoria Cross winner in Iraq. The British, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Spanish foreign ministers would collectively warn the radical Islamic world that there would be no more concessions to the pre-rational primeval mind, no more backpeddling and equivocating on rioting and threats over cartoons or operas or papal statements. There would be no more apologies about how the West need make amends for a hallowed tradition that started 2,500 years ago with classical Athens, led to the Italian Republics of the Renaissance, and inspired the liberal democracies that defeated fascism, Japanese militarism, Nazism, and Communist totalitarianism, and now are likewise poised to end radical Islamic fascism.
Europeans would advise their own Muslim immigrants, from London to Berlin, that the West, founded on principles of the Hellenic and European Enlightenments, and enriched by the Sermon on the Mount, had nothing to apologize for, now or in the future. Newcomers would either accept this revered culture of tolerance, assimilation, and equality of religions and the sexes — or return home to live under its antithesis of seventh-century Sharia law.
Media critics of the ongoing war might deplore our tactics, take issue with the strategy, and lament the failure to articulate our goals and values. But they would not stoop to the lies of “no blood for oil” — not when Iraqi petroleum is now at last under transparent auspices and bid on by non-American companies, even as the price skyrockets and American ships protect the vulnerable sea-lanes, ensuring life-saving commerce for all importing nations.
I also dreamed that no columnist, no talking head, no pundit would level the charge of “We took our eye off bin Laden in Afghanistan” when they themselves had no answer on how to reach al Qaedists inside nuclear Pakistan, a country ruled by a triangulating dictator and just one bullet away from an Islamic theocracy.
And then I woke up, remembering that the West of old lives only in dreams. Yes, the new religion of the post-Westerner is neither the Enlightenment nor Christianity, but the gospel of the Path of Least Resistance — one that must lead inevitably to gratification rather than sacrifice.
Once one understands this new creed, then all the surreal present at last makes sense: life in the contemporary West is so good, so free, so undemanding, that we will pay, say, and suffer almost anything to enjoy its uninterrupted continuance — and accordingly avoid almost any principled act that might endanger it.
©2007 Victor Davis Hanson