Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Let he who pays the piper call the tune, Part II

I blogged a couple of days ago about the Left's (to me) weird demand that the government be obligated to pour money into their institutions of higher learning, while ceding to the Left's demand that it give up its freedom of speech at those same campuses. This isn't even the most egregious example of the government's inability to close its checkbook when writing a check is against its best interests. Let me back up a minute, though. I'm still happily reading Natan Sharansky's brilliant book (see sidebar), and have been drinking in the sections about what keeps fear societies (as opposed to free societies) alive. According to Sharansky, who has the inside track having been raised inside and having helped destroy the Cold War's largest fear society, fear societies cannot maintain on their own, since they stifle their citizens' creative abilities. They can maintain some internal cohesion by convincing their people that they are surrounded by enemies. In this vein, all fear societies have discovered that the Jews are useful "enemies," being both internal and external. (By the way, is anything I'm writing here reminding you of the Arab countries in the Middle East?) Fear societies also keep some momentum by relying on the technology invented by free societies, and can even augment themselves it for a while, giving the illusion that they are leading the way in technology. Ultimately, though, a fear society needs outside help. This works fine if you're a satellite of an even larger fear society (N. Korea, Cuba, most African Marxist nations during the Cold War), but doesn't work at all if you're at the top of the fear society food chain. By the 1970s, the Soviet Union desperately needed an outside infusion of cash. And in comes the United States. Just when the Soviet Union was beginning to lose control, the realist school, led by Kissinger, mistook the Soviet Union's rigid internal cohesion (created by immersing its citizens in a world of fear) and its ability to use Western technology, as a sign of a tremendously strong country, not realizing that the Soviet Union was hanging on by the skin of its teeth. Detente posited that, if you could find common ground with dictatorships, and if you could make them a bit richer, they'd gradually find their way to a stable relationship with the West, lessening their threat. Detente didn't care about what was going on inside the fear country, it cared only about some nuanced balance that would defang that country a bit. Fortunately, Henry "Scoop" Jackson, the Democratic Senator from Washington, didn't buy into this. He believed that it was in America's best security interests to be surrounded by nations that treated its citizens well. His thinking was that you can't trust a country that doesn't trust its own people. Around this time, the Refuseniks (the Soviet Jews who were being refused permission to leave the country and who were being punished terribly for their temerity in asking), were beginning to capture people's attention. Scoop Jackson pushed a bill through Congress tying trade concessions to the Soviet Union to the latter's willingness to allow Jewish emigration. This was a wedge issue, and truly the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union. Reagan pushed the end even further by facing down the Soviet Union, and calling evil by its name. You'd think that, considering how spectacular and swift the Soviet Union's demise was, we'd have learned the lessons in Sharansky retells in his book. But we haven't. America repeatedly rewards fear societies and corrupt behavior: *The Palestinian Authority, which has broken every promise it's made in the last 13 years, which trains its citizenry to slaughter from the cradle, which oppresses its own people horribly (murdering anyone it suspects of being less than enthusiastic about the PA), and which has one of the most profoundly corrupt administrations in the world, gets more and more money, and the promises of more and more money, from the U.S. *Egypt, which oppresses its own people fiercely and which (no surprise) harbors some of the vilest anti-Semitism on the planet, is one of the largest recipients of U.S. aid. *The U.N., which has proven to be a spectacularly corrupt body, steeped in anti-Semitism (amazing how corruption, oppression and anti-Semitism march together), and anti-American in its efforts, is entirely dependent on the U.S.'s willingness to pay up. I know we've been withholding some payments, but we're still the single largest financial contributor. *Saudi Arabia is the one conundrum in this lot. It's a fear society and it's in horrible shape. It's been held together for decades by billions in oil money, but the whole structure is ready for collapse -- hence the ruler's desperate efforts to stave off that collapse by first directing fear and hatred at Israel and then, through the Madrassas, at America. The problem is that, unlike the other fear countries, Saudi Arabia (to which we give a lot of foreign aid), has something we genuinely want and currently need: oil. And we're afraid that, if we stand up to the Saudis, that oil will be directed elsewhere -- and probably to other fear societies, which will gain temporary strength, threatening us. Those are examples off the top of my head -- I'm sure you can think of others. Despite common sense, despite the experience of the last 30 years, we keep thinking that if we throw money at corrupt, oppressive entities or countries, they'll get better. We never seem to realize that it's our money that is propping them up, and preventing their inevitable self-immolation. UPDATE: And while we're on the subject, check out this Elan Journo article about the fall-out (pun intended) of Clinton's decision to prop up North Korea's dictatorship. Wasn't it nice of us to give them money to build nuclear bomb that now threatens, not just the Korean peninsula but, through the hands of terrorist networks, the whole world?