Monday, May 01, 2006

Am I the only one....

... who's tired of reading various blogs that think that removing Saddam was BAD but think that the largest moral imperative of the time is that we ought to go kill a bunch of Sudanese drug-addicts forthwith? Yes? I am? Well, never mind then....

Oh, fuck it, it's my blog and I can be an asshole if I want. At the second link above, Michael Reynolds blogs about his experience at the anti-Darfur-genocide wankfest in DC last Saturday.

Speakers began shouting around 1:30. Always shouting. The theme was “Never again.” The unintended lesson was: don’t try to sound like Martin Luther King. Good advice for public speakers: do yourself a favor and do not try, “I have a nightmare, today.” Just don’t. Especially in rabbinical cadences. For half an hour afterward I couldn’t stop doing the “I Have a Dream” speech as Jackie Mason Jr.: “Oy, such a dream I have today.”

That quote about captures the flippant tone of the post up until Reynolds decides to work himself into a state of high dudgeon:

If we’re seriously opposed to genocide it seems to me we have to be ready to think very seriously about having the means, and the will, to send troops to shoot some of these evil bastards in the head. As it happens, we’re in the middle of just such a head-shooting venture. However muddled the thinking, however disastrous the planning, however dishonest the sales job, Iraq is in part about taking out a murderous thug who was, without question, the moral equal of any Janjaweed rapist or child killer.

Hey, great, someone acknowledging that force just might be necessary to stop killers with guns! Hallelujah! Praise God and pass the ammunition!

But wait, there's more! You know these good centrist blogs can't post anything without blaming Bush for all the world's evil:

Part of the reason I seethe at the Bush administration’s incompetence, is that the underlying notion that the United States has the right to pre-emptively defend itself, and the moral obligation to use its power to get between people like the Janjaweed and their victims, is correct. We have the right to defend ourselves, even if it means striking first, and we have the moral obligation, where possible, to shoot the man who would murder a child. Those ideas have both been damaged almost beyond repair by the arrogant, reckless, swaggering stupidity of this administration.

This passage led Justin Gardner over at the first link to make the following supremely stupid comment:

And then this about the US losing the ability to claim the moral high ground and take the thugs out...

Brilliant. Truly scathing. Except for this little problem mentioned in the post Justin gushes over:

People who oppose the Iraq venture often do so on grounds that we have no right to “impose” our world view. Some oppose the war in Iraq on grounds that we failed to build international consensus. Well, what’s needed in Darfur is for us to impose our world view — the one that says, “don’t throw babies onto bonfires, don’t gang-rape women.” And international consensus is hard to achieve when major world players like China and Russia have no moral objection to genocide, and when the French and Germans are so compulsively anti-American in their policies that they would welcome, to steal a Simpsons line, “our new insect overlords,” if it meant poking Uncle Sam in the eye.

Of course Justin, with his soft-stick-of-butter-sharp wit, missed that paragraph.

For whom - from whom - do we have to claim the moral high ground? The Russians? Yes, their hands are clean. China? Well, China is complicit in the genocide in Darfur, not to mention their other problems with human rights in China itself. The French? The fact that the French government was on Saddam's payroll should disqualify them from sitting in judgement of the character of other nations. That goes double for the leadership of the UN.

When reviewing the cast of characters that comprise the international community one can't help but notice that few nations can truly claim any kind of moral high ground, and that those nations matter least. (Who fears the legions of Iceland?) Talk of a moral high ground in international relations, and the US having lost its deed to that particular piece of real estate, brings to mind the words of that great 1980s philosopher Cindy Lauper: "The mind simply boggles!" What are these people thinking? Do they really think the world revolves around their sheltered concept of morality? Are they truly that ignorant of both history and current events?

...

Reynolds keeps coming back to the phrase "Never again!", and wonders if "we’re just mouthing off to make ourselves feel good." He states

The fact is and will remain that if we genuinely intend to stop genocide everywhere it rears its nasty head, then yes we’re going to need international law, and yes we’ll want diplomacy, but yes we’ll need bullets, too.

Of course, his earlier paragraph about how the Russians and Chinese will block all efforts in Darfur seems to have already escaped him. We saw what diplomacy can do more than a decade ago in Rwanda: it will send observers to watch 400,000 people get hacked to death, refuse to do anything to stop it, then give the diplomat in charge of allowing the slaughter the Nobel Peace Prize and allow him to bleed a country dry to make himself and his family rich. Yes, that's the fruits of international law and diplomacy! But we should hang our heads in shame because, you know, Guantanamo. We've ceded the moral high ground.

...

After WWII, the phrase "Never again!" entered the public consciousness, a cry of horror at the evil that men had wrought. The horror, and the cry, and the conviction faded quickly from consciousness for all but the Jews. First, Eastern Europe was abandoned to the Soviet regime. And western Europe, exhausted after decades of war and economic depression, jettisoned their colonial possessions, abrogating their responsibilities to the peoples they had chosen to rule.

Since then, we have seen genocide and mass slaughter again, and again, and again, ad nauseum, ad infinitum. And rarely, if ever, does anything happen in time to stop the worst of the killing.

The reason for this has to do with diplomacy, and international law, and the willpower of the peoples of the free world, who are the only ones who really care even a little bit. (A nomad sitting in his yurt in Central Asia doesn't care about genocide in Darfur. This is not a moral failing on his part. He may not even know where or what Africa is, and in any event has more immediate concerns with his daily existence. The kind of moral preening we're discussing is a luxury afforded to the rich.)

We have seen again and again that diplomacy and international law do nothing more than provide cover for regimes that want to do nasty things. (See above regarding China and Russia.) We have also seen again and again that the free peoples of the world aren't willing to do the hard work of enforcing even the most basic justice in the nasty places of the world. If we don't have the will to stay the course in Iraq, what makes anyone believe that we are willing to spend the lives and treasure necessary to police the African continent? Millions die in Africa in wars that most people in the free world have never even heard of. And yet, 1000 lives lost per year is enough to make America eat itself over perceived failures.

No, I don't want to hear any more about Darfur, especially from those who opposed doing anything in Iraq. The free peoples of planet Earth aren't really interested in doing the hard work of making "Never again!" actually mean anything. If they were, we wouldn't actually need to know where Darfur is on a map, because we would have never allowed things to get this bad.

6 comments:

Icepick said...

An additional note: Am I the only one that has noticed how the people who think we needed at least 500,000 troops to control Iraq think we can get by sending a small force of Marines to Darfur? Why is Darfur so much more tractable than Iraq? Than Somalia?

Personally, I believe it's a case of people not really believing we will do anything substantial, so they are safe running their mouths in whatever way is most politically expedient. But then, some might accuse me of being cynical....

Pooh said...

some might accuse me of being cynical....

never!

(again)

(and just when I thought I had the most jaundiced view of the world possible...)

Icepick said...

Actually, my wife keeps telling me I'm an idealist - and that's why I get so angry about this sort of thing. She's right, of course.

and just when I thought I had the most jaundiced view of the world possible...

I'm not jaundiced. I'm just tired of feel-good bullshit decoupled from reality.

Still, it could be worse, Pooh. We could be nihilists.

Icepick said...

Actaully, the protest over the weekend seemed like a bad carricature of the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movies of the 1930s.

Mickey: I hear there's a genocide going on in Darfur! What'll we do?

Patsy: I know, let's put on a rally in The Mall!

Pooh said...

I don't even need to click on the nihlists link do I? Ve Believe in nussing...

Icepick said...

No, you don't!