Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Liberals just don't get it

In an interesting (and optimistic) Charles Krauthammer column about Abbas' efforts to reign in his terrorists, I latched onto this paragraph:

Was not [Ehud] Barak [former dove-ish Israeli prime minister] the good guy? And [Ariel] Sharon the tough guy? Surprise. Arabs respect toughness. Sharon launched a massive invasion of the Palestinian territories after the Passover massacre of 2002. Western experts and the media were practically unanimous that this would achieve nothing. Completely wrong. In fact, it is precisely Israel's aggressive counterattack against Palestinian terrorists, coupled with the defensive fence (which has prevented practically all suicide attacks wherever it has been built), that has brought us to this point of hope. As the fence is extended, the Palestinians see the strategic option of terror gradually disappearing. Moreover, Israel's successful military offensive demonstrated to the Palestinians that the premise of the second intifada — that a demoralized and terrorized Israel would essentially surrender — is false.
The reason it struck me so forcibly was that I was watching the most recent episode of The West Wing, in which the show once again came down heavy-handedly on the side of negotation or nothing. That is, said the show's writers/producers, negotiation is always the better option, regardless of circumstances. In this episode, the show's moral compasses were arguing that they couldn't possibly strike at the dictatorial government in Iran, since it would irrevocably harm the growing reform movement in that same country. In a moment of sanity, the writers had one of the characters, a Brit, point out that the peace movement could take ten years, whereas the Iranians were months away from completing nuclear missiles that could take out London. He was properly put in his place. The thing is that this Brit might have had in mind Maggie Thatcher's foray into the Falklands. You remember that? It was a silly little battle over a silly little island (although several British military men sadly lost their lives). What was stunning about the whole incident, though, was that the astonished people of Argentina, once shown that their military dictatorship was not, in fact, all-powerful, took it down and democratized the country. (Here is an excellent Victor Davis Hanson article about the panic that ensued amongst the "negotiate at all costs crowd" when Maggie Thatcher insisted on going forward with the war; here is a website that collects article about the war, including the war's beneficial outcome for Argentina.) One doesn't have to go all the way back to 1982. I seem to remember something recently in . . . where was that? Ah, yes, Afghanistan. That's it. The U.S. eschewed diplomacy, brought down a horrible dictatorship, and the people had their first free election in their 5,000 year history. In other words, it is not always the best thing to talk, and talk, and talk with dictators, in the hope either that (a) they will change their wicked ways or (b) their struggling people will eventually gain the strength to overthrow them. Sometimes, you just take out the bad guy. As the Protest Warrior t-shirt says, "Except for ending slavery, fascism, Nazism, and communism, war has never solved anything." UPDATE: Coincidentally, Victor Hanson Davis today wrote a column in which he gives ten reasons to encourage democracy in the Middle East. Reason No. 2 touches on my point:
More often than not, democracies arise through violence — either by threat of force or after war with all the incumbent detritus of humiliation, impoverishment, and revolution. The shame of the Falklands debacle brought down the Argentine dictatorship in the same manner that Portugal's imperial disasters in Africa steered it from fascism to republicanism. Japan, Germany, and Italy arose from the ashes of war, as did South Korea and in a sense Taiwan as well. Most likely Ronald Reagan's arms build-up of the 1980s bankrupted the Soviet Empire and freed both its "republics" and the enslaved states of Eastern Europe. So the birth pangs of democracy are often violent, and we should pay little attention to critics who clamor that the United States cannot prompt reform through regime change. Instead, let skeptical Americans (who were not given their own liberty through debate) adduce evidence that freedom is usually a result of mere petition or always indigenous. Even the Philippines and South Africa were the dividends of diplomatic strong-arming, the cessation of U.S. support, and veiled threats that continued autocracy would lead to disaster.