November 13, 2002
LEFT AND RIGHT INTERNATIONALISM IN A NUTSHELL:
Light in the Tunnel
(THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, November 13, 2002, NY Times)
or a brief, shining moment last Friday, the world didn't seem like such a crazy place. When all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council, including Syria, raised their hands in favor of a U.N. demand that Iraq submit to unrestricted inspections of its weapons arsenal or else face "serious consequences," it was the first hopeful moment I've felt since 9/11.
I've no desire to be overly harsh here, because Mr. Friedman, unlike many on the Left and most at the Times, seems to have tried very hard in the months since 9-11 to put aside reflexive criticism of the U.S. and inordinate love of internationalist "solutions" to the world's problems. But that first paragraph really took me aback. Compare his statement that this was the first hopeful moment with what I suspect was the moment when the rest of us first felt hopeful:'My War': Sebastian Junger Describes Why the War in Afghanistan Was So Special for Him
(ABC.News, Oct. 7, 2002)
ABCNEWS.com: You of course covered the war in Afghanistan last year for ABCNEWS. Looking back on that now, were there any particularly memorable experiences?
Sebastian Junger: Well, the most obvious memorable experience was taking Kabul. We were with them, some of the lead Northern Alliance units. I didn't know what we would get. I mean, I was an American and the American Air Force has just finished bombing them and civilians had died, I mean by accident, but still...
And we got in there and the Northern Alliance was cheered wildly. They were received incredibly warmly and even Americans were cheered. People were shouting "America, America" on the streets because they knew that without the U.S. they would not be liberated from the Taliban.
To see a city in that kind of jubilation ... it's something that as a journalist, as a person - and frankly as an American because we played such an important role in that - was incredible. It was an experience I'll never forget because I don't think it will ever be repeated, for me.
Mr. Friedman's joy was provoked by a paper agreement--signed off on by despicable governments in China and Syria and elsewhere, bickered over by our putative allies in France and Russia--which in the final analysis does nothing more than give the imprimatur of a corrupt and ineffective bureaucratic institution to an action we were going to undertake anyway. Mr. Junger's joy, and mine, and maybe yours, came at the sight and sound of a people being freed from tyranny. It was especially satisfying because we'd helped these people to liberate their country, but, even had we played no role, it would still have been an occasion to warm the heart of any democrat.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 13, 2002 11:16 PM
All very true--but caution, dangerous curves: Israeli soldiers, after kicking out the PLO from South Lebanon in 1982, were at first welcomed by the Shi'ites there; however, the Israelis outstayed their welcome with disasterous results. And then there's how some Kuwaitis perceive the US post 9/11:
But hadn't the terrorist fled in front of the Israelis? So it was the real people greeting them. Then , as they stayed, the terror groups came back and counter-attacked?
Agree completely that liberals are more interested in getting pieces of paper done rather than results (applies to domestic issues as well).
Glad to see Mr. Junger make sense. I have followed his career since he wrote the Perfect Storm (about Gloucester MA where my in-laws are) and was worried he would turn out to be a typical lefty writer.
I think a variant on your thesis was seen in Michael O'Hanlon's piece regarding the UN Resolution on Iraq, where the whole point seems to be one of ensuring that a "process" is underway.
In their world, jaw-jaw is ALWAYS better than war-war.
Perhaps, but I think it's fair to say that in this part of the world, which, over the centuries, has been overrun countless times by conquering armies, a rule of thumb developed (and perhaps Darwin (!) might be invoked here), viz. that to ensure one's survival, one welcomes the latest, greatest conqueror (no matter what one really thinks of him), and then tries to get on with one's life. Problem with us in the west is that we believe that people actually express what they truly feel, rather than what they believe they ought to express in order to save their necks (this is not to cast blame, as it's a pretty human calculation; it's just an explanation of the dynamic that may have occurred in South Lebanon and perhaps in Afghanistan).
On the other hand, the South Lebanese may have truly loved the Israelis (and the Afghans, the US) for "liberating" them from the PLO (Taliban)--and by all reports, Fatahland was not a terribly happy place for the local Lebanese inhabitants; but they also may have become very alarmed when the Israelis took their time about leaving. America should perhaps take note, though there is every indication that an Afghan government can not sustain itself without western forces to defend it (which means what, alas?....).
And Fouad Ajami has made the point that for the sake of pure survival, the local inhabitants, knowing that at some point, the western armed forces (i.e., US) will leave, must be wary of showing too much support for those armed forces, lest they be on the wrong side of accounts settled after the westerners depart. For an example, see the sorry episode of Israel's Christian and Shi'ite allies in south Lebanon following Israel's withdrawal (or flight, if you wish). You can bet they'll think twice before throwing their lot in with the Israelis again....
Well, Barry, if you mean they have decided
that slaughtering helpless non-Christian
women and children was a bad idea, I'd call
that a gain.
Orrin's optimism that the Afghans are through
with tyranny is unlikely to be justified, either.
They probably aren't through, but they have the opportunity to decide for themselves what their future will be.
Rather few peoples have ever chosen freedom for any extended period of time, they usually prefer security.
Don't miss this takedown
of Friedman by Jay Nordlinger. It'll warm your heart.