Economic and political analysis-Window on culture-Media criticism

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

You can't intellectualize victory

I had my article about the bin Laden death posted on OpEdNews. Some people have got to calling it a "satire." I doubt many have actually read what they criticize. Unlike those who died in the effort to bring Osama to justice, my critics have a chance to voice their opinions.

I wonder if their lack of delight in Osama's death speaks to our nation's shattered psyche. It's worth remembering--isn't it?--that Osama created an ideology that is apparently still at work and at a danger to us.

Perhaps it's too much for some people to accept that Bush was right about Osama: he was a mad dog who had to be put down at any cost.

If America has been divided into partisan camps, Osama's not the only one to blame. We, the American people, need to come to terms with our foe and its malignancy.

It's our nature to feel relieved by Osama's death--what's the good in not recognizing that feeling? We do it in competitive athletics all the time. To the chagrin of the intellectual, all we can do with our feelings is choose to recognize them or not.

Sophisticated types in societies like ours tend too heavily towards recrimination, and introspection. They rely on intellect to make deliberate and thoughtful decisions. Vengeance acts on a whole 'nother level, as I say in my article.

For the more intellectual among us, a death of a hated enemy might not register at all as an achievement. Plus the crass nature of dancing around the fire rejoicing in our enemy's death would see barbaric.

Too bad we can't kill the ideology Osama spawned entirely. To the ground. Osama's evil--or tree as I say in my article--had too much time to grow, unmolested. Therefore ridding ourselves of the archenemy won't end the battle. So the battle must wage on, without closure?

How much more cleansing needs to be done before we can say we've destroyed the source of so much evil? And if bin Laden wasn't the sole source of terror, then I guess the War on Terror can't end. Congratulations, doubters, you've managed to make bin Laden's death scarcely a rest stop on the endless road of terror.

Not celebrating bin Laden's death isn't equivalent to not supporting the war. But what has the anti-war movement done recently? Have their been protest sit-downs? Nary a hand has raised a single objection outside of a few antiwar rallies. Nothing has been done to stop the war.

Our soldiers have done everything to end this war. By killing the source of so much suffering, so much hate, the haters have lost their figurehead of their movement. It's a catch and victory greater than Hitler because Hitler had no nuclear weapons.

The ideology Hitler spawned may be around us, but so is Osama's. And Osama's is stronger. Why? Because of superior firepower? No. Because of more resources, or followers? No. It's because Osama captured religious fundamentalism in order to popularize his anti-American vitriol.

The terror threat is greater now because Osama's succeeded in spreading his brand of hate. People have succumbed to the idea of the long war and can't even decide whether it's been worth it, much less what could constitute victory. For years, I've blogged about the mistake of setting unclear goals; it's our military actually that suffers the consequences, by bearing the brunt of the War on Terror (or, to be more specific, of the inability of other people to end the war they've been ordered to fight...)

The inability of our democracy to agree that we've destroyed a modern Hitler shows how divided and therefore weak--to replay the Bush concept--that we've become. It's like The 300 in which Leonidas has to charge ahead without the support of the Greek nation. It's through his glorious sacrifice on the field of battle--yes, it ends badly--that the Greeks get their act together and meet the evil from the East. The 300 of course pay the price; the public can only be gradually cajoled--time that the villain Xerses will use to his advantage. Someone must stop them.

The Straussians have been proven exactly right: the Western democracies are too weak to stop the rise of a Hitler. As I say in my article at OpEdNews.com, Strauss warned his students at the University of Chicago that like the English and French in the 30's, democracies like the US wouldn't see the rise of a Hitler-its citizens and politicians would elect to do what's easy, to go on indifferent to the magnitude of the threat rising against them.

The reception of Osama's death has been met by such a tepid response despite the threat he posed. Democracies and their citizens are almost conditioned by failing to recognize a rising demagogue. This attitude makes us vulnerable to those who would do us harm.

Why do dictators ascend? We know Hitler was a master of propaganda, so we also know the forces of darkness are well skilled at hiding their agenda. Maybe its the "sheople" effect of a mass consumption society--the abstract threat is only that abstract, someone else's problem, something that doesn't exist until it crashes into our living room.

During the Bush years, an attempt to shatter this indifference was made through public rhetoric, such as the proverbial expression (wasted on Iraq) about the "mushroom cloud" jarring us from complacency too late.

Without Bush, it's unlikely we would have done enough to stop bin Laden. It's doubtful Osama could not have been stopped were it not for a undemocratically elected, recovering alcoholic wannabe Texan with a big chip on his shoulder; his sheriff's badge shining more brightly now with bin Laden slumped dead over the saddle, his political legacy reinvigorated.

Yes, there was plenty of collateral damage--and there will still likely be--but by killing Osama we've stopped the source of so much evil in our world. Isn't that enough? Or do we need to keep raging, hellbent on destroying everything that opposes us? Closure is needed because it turns things off. And we can't dwell on all the side issues once we've committed to war. There can be no resolution until we achieve victory but Osama's ideology will outlive him.