Sunday, October 24, 2004

Fallacy Number Six

Grey vs. black. Or grey vs. grey?
It should be obvious that to someone like me, who apparently wants to drag the western world kicking and screaming into the 13th century, the United States and the Deranged Islamofascist conspirators are both mottled grey, and that the Islamofascists even have a few patches that are paler than the corresponding patches on the Great Satan.
But I am fortunate in that I am not forced to make such a choice, because this is only an existential conflict for the Islamofascists, and the dynamics of global hegemony are such that they will inevitably be bombed and Coca-colonised out of existence. Similarly, the Pope is not forced to make a choice, and can afford to indulge in pious platitudes against war, knowing his words are not going to have any bearing on the outcome. It is not like Spain in the 30's, when the Church had the potential to determine which of two equally powerful and very dark grey movements would prevail. Yes, we are very lucky. Powerless, but lucky.

Given that there is no existential threat to the West, there is no analogy to the stark choice facing the U.S. liberals addressed by Koestler. There is no need for such people to abandon long-term principles to defeat a non-existential threat. If you are someone who sincerely believes that Bush is leading the world towards tyranny, then you should not care if Al-Qaeda appear to be a bit darker grey than the military-industrial complex. The military-industrial complex does not need your help to squash them. The 'war on terror' may be a little longer, and more unpleasant for frontline countries like Israel (and perhaps the one or two American cities taken out by terrorist nukes) because of your liberal efforts, but if the resulting Orbis Americanis is a kinder, gentler one, it will be an acceptable sacrifice.

3 comments:

Dave said...

I guess what I probably really worry about is the US's apparent failure to recognise that its existence is not, as you imply, threatened in any real sense - but it's acting as if it is! But the Islamofascists (as good a name as any for the psychotic death cultists who tick the 'Mohammed' box on the 'Why are you killing people for no particularly good reason?' questionnaire) really are now fighting not only for the glorification of their increasingly insane world vision, but also their ongoing existence.

In other words, you have one side that genuinely has nothing to lose and everything to gain, countered by another one that sees itself as morally empowered to destroy the Evil Enemy (whomever that might happen to be). Neither can be dissuaded by a rational, moderate argument, because both envision their struggle as a conflict between White (us=good) and Black (them=evil).

I foresee the same kind of spiralling escalation as goes on and on between Israel and Palestine, except writ on a much larger scale, dragging more and more peripheral players into the fray. It just irritates me that World War Three could happen because of a handful of messianic gun nuts with short fuses happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Dave said...

I guess what I probably really worry about is the US's apparent failure to recognise that its existence is not, as you imply, threatened in any real sense - but it's acting as if it is! But the Islamofascists (as good a name as any for the psychotic death cultists who tick the 'Mohammed' box on the 'Why are you killing people for no particularly good reason?' questionnaire) really are now fighting not only for the glorification of their increasingly insane world vision, but also their ongoing existence.

In other words, you have one side that genuinely has nothing to lose and everything to gain, countered by another one that sees itself as morally empowered to destroy the Evil Enemy (whomever that might happen to be). Neither can be dissuaded by a rational, moderate argument, because both envision their struggle as a conflict between White (us=good) and Black (them=evil).

I foresee the same kind of spiralling escalation as goes on and on between Israel and Palestine, except writ on a much larger scale, dragging more and more peripheral players into the fray. It just irritates me that World War Three could happen because of a handful of messianic gun nuts with short fuses happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Dr. Clam said...

Curses, I seem to be talking myself into a more moderate position, the longer I go on...

It is not wise to attempt to reason with enemies who are implacably unreasonable, worse still to try reasoning with an unreasonable opponent who has adopted the outward forms of reason- and this is where I fear President Kerry may become unstuck- but it is also unwise to throw reason away, and act unreasonably because your enemies are unreasonable. I did not believe this was what Bush was doing, but now I am not so sure.

I guess I was suckered in by all that talk about a Neo-Conservative Conspiracy. It was the same story in 2000, when Maureen Dowd persuaded me Bush was alright by scaremongering about how he would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

And perhaps the Russian and Israeli men-on-the-street are not the best judges of the American president, after all. It might be for the good if Kerry wins- I have said before that I don't think his foreign policy will be anywhere near as different as Old Europe et al. would like, and since I don't think he is hated by the right quite as much as Bush is hated by the left, once he has demonstrated that he is not 'Hanoi John' the tone of debate can rise to a less rancourous level...