Saturday, February 04, 2006

Why I am scared of right-wing politics

Here’s Glenn Reynolds excerpting an interesting and rational point by Lee Harris, and taking the precise opposite lesson from it that any reasonable person would. After an analysis of why a madman swinging a gun around his head is scarier than a policeman, he suggests that:
“the United States probably needs to be scarier and less predictable itself.”
Then of course, Reynolds links to some kook who uses the phrase “warmongering pacifists”—in quasi-jest it seems, but such an Orwellian turn of phrase can do no good.

I was always shocked when my friends from grammar school would casually suggest that we nuke China and get it over with. The suggestion was generally made in half-jest, but it underscores an indifference to the lives of others that is disturbing, and most of all, an indifference to the delicate nature of international relations. But what can you expect from children?

The sentiment reminds me of a quotation from a favorite author of mine about a person who, if you overloaded him with information, “would just kill you to make things simpler.” I think that a portion of the base of the Republican party is merely a grown-up version of these kids who casually suggest nuclear war. As kids, they do not really know what this entails; they do not try to appreciate the waste and evil; it’s all really too silly to dispute—they know nothing about these people halfway around the world, except that they are making trouble for America and we are capable of destroying them. As adults though, the attitude is manifest in a seemingly more benign attitude: the assumption that America has a right to act in whatever way it sees fit while the rest of the world must watch helplessly. The same principle is at stake, and the same disdain for the respect of the people of the world. Reynolds, in his more childish moments, shows this immature disdain, as so many of the UN bashers (but not all—there are real problems there). This visceral sense of American entitlement and just-ness in doing whatever it pleases is precisely what the neo-conservatives appeal to in their domestic strategy to buttress foreign policy; and it is also precisely what has led to the worldwide drop in how well people view America.


At 1:56 PM, February 04, 2006, Anonymous Brandon Clivens said...

I'm not sure if the United States can be any scarier than any other declared nuclear state. It's not like we can undeclare our nuclear status. Also, I think that the US is not even of a concern to much of the rest of the world, with the exception of the Middle East because they have nothing else to be angry at. While liberals may be afraid of the country in which they live, I think that they should be worried about places like North Korea - those undeclared nuclear states. Sure, the US can blow up the world 9X over alone, but what are these other people capable of? Just because the US is capable of doing something like this, people know that we wouldn't even allow it. As far as these other guys, they may be crazy enough to do something like that.

At 3:34 PM, February 04, 2006, Blogger Joe Campbell said...

I agree that America has not acted in a crazy enough way to make the world think we are insane and willing to do anything--but this is what some right-wing nut jobs want.

But they miss the whole point: America sets the standards for the world; America is the power; America created most international law, and created an international system of checks and balances and has been, on the whole, a responsible and benign hegemon. In other words, people trust America because we have, for the most part, acted rationally, and without trying to enact revolutionary changes.

Suggesting we do away with this--that the acquiesence of the world to our domination is unimportant--is stupid and juvenile.

(I also disagree with your assertion that "people know" that America wouldn't nuke anyone, or that Americans should not be concerned at whether or not America is acting responsibly in foreign affairs, or that most of the world is not "concerned" with the US. Liberals have every right to demand that America act responsibly in the world; all Americans have that right, and must exercise it. Many others around the world are concerned about abuses of US power.)


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