Monday, January 10, 2005

Here to stay

Victor Davis Hanson's latest piece, "The Disenchanted American," starts off with a quick but frightening look at what the results of the last 15 years would be sans the USA. He goes on to assert:

In fact, an American consensus is growing that envy and hatred of the United States, coupled with utopian and pacifistic rhetoric, disguise an even more depressing fact: Outside our shores there is a growing barbarism with no other sheriff in sight.

He works up an excellent analogy comparing the world to an old western - needless to say, the sheriff wears the Red, White, and Blue on his right shoulder. He continues, on the tsunami relief effort:

So even in death and misery, the world's pathologies remain — as Israel is disinvited to help the dying as the most benevolent United States, which freed Afghanistan and toppled Saddam, is supposedly under scrutiny to "regain" its stature for its "crimes" of jailing a mass murderer and sponsoring elections in his place. Last year alone the United States gave more direct money to Egypt and Jordan than what the entire billion-person Muslim world has given for the dead in Indonesia.

He nails the real issue that upsets the UN and the EU:

Apparently the crime against America is not that it gives too little to those who need it, but that it gives too little to those who wish to administer it all.

His concluding thought:

All this hypocrisy has desensitized Americans, left and right, liberal and conservative. We will finish the job in Iraq, nursemaid democratic Afghanistan through its birthpangs, and continue to ensure that bandits and criminal states stay off the world's streets. But what is new is that the disenchanted American is becoming savvy and developing a long memory — and so we all fear the day is coming when he casts aside the badge, rides the buckboard out of town, and leaves such sanctimonious folk to themselves.

As usual, he cuts to the chase, but I think his conclusion is a bit off. He may be correct that we are growing world-weary. However, we won't be casting aside the badge any time soon, and the reason is simple: it's not in our country's best interest.

Stable economies, representative governments, and healthy populations throughout the world will always be beneficial to Americans, and poverty, dictators, tyrants, and human suffering will always be to our detriment.

The information age and the global economy continue to make our world smaller, and disenfranchised, oppressed, and impoverished people are not an asset to a free country, and they can easily become weapons against it.

Earlier in his article, Hanson includes this paragraph on the international aid situation, which I believe shows exactly why we will not (and cannot) "leave such sanctimonious folk to themselves":

In this weird sort of global high-stakes charity poker, no one asks why tiny Taiwan out-gives one billion mainlanders or why Japan proves about the most generous of all — worried the answer might suggest that postwar democratic republics, resurrected and nourished by the United States and now deeply entrenched in the Western liberal tradition of democracy, capitalism, and humanitarianism, are more civil societies than the Islamic theocracies, socialist republics, and authoritarian autocracies of the once-romanticized third world.

People yearn to be free, and once free they don't easily give up their freedom. Those who understand that concept also understand that the best interest of free nations lies in creating more free nations.

That said, we need not labor under the delusion that we came to Iraq to free the Iraqi people. We came to Iraq to protect the United States from Islamofacist attack. Freeing the Iraqi people was an excellent byproduct. Keeping them free is the best way to further our interests (and theirs), and a representative government and free market is the best way to accomplish that goal.

Similarly, we are sending huge amounts of aid to tsunami victims to prevent the spread of chaos, lawlessness, disease, and poverty, which is in our country's best interest (and also the best interest of the inhabitants of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc.)

This attitude may seem to stand in contrast with my previous post, but I do not think so.

The previous post features an individual acting unselfishly and putting himself at risk to help others. Based upon his quotations in the article I believe that he considers his risk to be insignificant in comparison with the benefit others will receive from his actions, and he also seems to be a Christian, in which case his unselfish actions are ultimately in his own best interest.

Additionally, it is rational for individuals to act unselfishly and to put the interest of others above their own if they believe in eternity and eternal reward. This principal does not apply to countries. It is irrational for a country to act out of accordance with its best interest, and we should not expect any country to do so.

Maybe VDH just finished reading some Ayn Rand and has dreams about creating a place free from the influences of the brutish world, but I think that the day we grow tired of sheriffing will mark the beginning of our demise as a country, and yes, I do fear that day.