Saturday, December 13, 2003

The Nation, Divided 
One wonders if Roger Normand, writing for The Nation, was under the influence of mind-altering substances (say, Patchouli), when he wrote this passage:

It is the world's sole superpower--the primary architect of the United Nations and its Universal Declaration--that is now shaking off all legal constraints to unleash the most destructive military machine in history.

Is our military more destructive than that of Saddam Hussein’s? In what sense, precisely?

Is our military more destructive than the Nazi war machine of World War II? You know, the one that engineered the Holocaust?

Is our military more destructive than the Red Army that enforced the starvation of the Ukraine that killed millions?

Is our military more destructive than the Khmer Rouge, which murdered almost a quarter of the population of Cambodia in the 1970s?

Are we more destructive than the Japanese in their murderous occupation of China, Korea, and the Philippines in WWII?

Are we more destructive than the Mongols, who may have killed up to 800,000 people in what is now Iraq alone?

You want destruction? Let me throw out a few more examples of real destruction:

Caesar in Gaul.

WWI. On either front. Which left a shell of an entire generation of British, French, and German youth.

Scipio Africanus in Carthage.
The Assyrians at Lachish
The 30 Years War.
The Crusades.
The Ottomans in the Balkans. The Christians right back against the Ottomans.

I could go on. Not one of the above conquerors even attempted to create anything approaching a democratic Republic among their subjects. Rather, entire cities were slaughtered, or sent into slavery. Caesar financed his Gallic campaigns with the capture, transport, and sale of thousands upon thousands of slaves.

All this is to say that Normand’s critical thinking skills seem to have been completely trumped by a rabid and reflexive rage. There is nothing going on here--even in the U.S. military's very worst moments, that is even remotely comparable to the tragic but established norms of warfare, even in the 20th century.

I’m wary of throwing the term “America-hater” around to describe the handwringers on the left. But it certainly seems apropos in this case.

No wonder Christopher Hitchens told these guys good riddance (Thanks to Ranting Profs for pointing this out.)

I’d like The Nation to publish more work like this superlative article from Lauren Sandler.

That’s what progressive left journalism should look and feel like. Sandler sticks with a sober-minded focus on the facts involved and the women and girls tragically affected by them. In so doing, focuses our attention on the dispossessed in a disciplined, credible, and moving way. She lets the Iraqi women she interviews tell their own story, and the story stands on its own merits. It does not self-aggrandize, it does not puff itself up. It does not distract the reader with a blinding salvo of straw men, red herrings, and reckless, easily falsified assertions.

Normands’ incoherent rant, on the other hand, accomplishes little more than turning his article into a grotesque caricature of itself.

In a larger sense, the two articles, appearing side-by-side on The Nation’s website, encapsulate the struggle for progressivism’s soul. Sandler appeals to empathy; Norman appeals to cynicism. Sandler evokes sympathy, Norman anger. Sandler draws in the swing voter; Norman alienates him. Sandler expands progressivism; Norman marginalizes it.

I still carry a photo of Anne Frank around with me. One of the reasons I volunteered for this gig in the first place is because I didn't want young women in Iraq to have to live in fear of their own government.

Anne Frank and Lauren Sandler both help keep me grounded.

Splash, out,

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