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Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015

Anti-neocons and the lessons of Iraq

The 21st century will be a battle over the future of the nation-state

L ast week one panelist on Fox news—I don't recall his name, only that he appeared to be a big fan of Brylcreem—bluntly stated that people in the Middle East are not intelligent enough to have a functioning democracy.

What he probably meant was they were not politically sophisticated or well educated enough, but in that Freudian slippy moment he hit upon a fundamental truth: societies cannot jump directly from tribalism to a functioning democracy. Political science tells us that they also need education, ethnic unity, a work ethic, and a reasonable standard of economic well-being.

This is one of the things Kissinger's much-maligned Realpolitik got right. South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines are three countries that progressed under military dictatorships for decades, building up their economies, and then seemingly overnight, with relatively little bloodshed or debate, turned democratic. It seemed almost miraculous.

America's transformation was also miraculous, because we had those factors at the beginning. We're losing them today because the primacy of the nation-state is being abandoned by the Democratic party.

As a result, Democrats appear disloyal and unpatriotic to Republicans. But their current leader was not just some random community agitator who infiltrated the Democratic party. He embodies their spirit. Their goal is to replace the nation-state with an international authority. The tactics they use are destruction, betrayal, and rabble-rousing.

Their true loyalty is to the world government they dream of establishing. To achieve that they must denigrate and weaken individual nations, including their own, without seeming to do so and thereby creating opposition. Their counterparts in Europe believe likewise.

By contrast, national loyalty is a virtue that Republicans are proud of. Republicans, for the most part, believe in their country, and conservatives both here and in Europe are fiercely nationalistic.

Thus, it would be a mistake to view the conflict as a continuation of the 20th century struggle between communism and freedom. The 21st century is shaping up to be a colossal battle over a more fundamental issue: the future of the nation-state itself. Even communists still believed in the Westphalian system; indeed, China today is one of its fiercest defenders, saying repeatedly that they reject ‘interference’ with their internal affairs.

Single ethnic nation-states with democracies are probably the most stable version of the classic nation-state, and for good reason. Just as capitalism channels our natural greed into something constructive, nations channel our genetically programmed tribalism into loyalty toward a state which the people trust. That trust is derived from confidence that those in government have the same interests as the people, and they represent the people by virtue of having been democratically elected.

This is why leftists institute multiculturalism, and why they struggle, or pretend to struggle, against racism, even when only they seem able to see it: ethnic identity is a threat to multiculturalism, and multiculturalism is a prerequisite for world government.

This has concrete implications for our foreign policy. It is foolish for Republicans to pretend that America can maintain a muscular involvement in the world so long as internationalists at home will undermine it, as they successfully did in Vietnam and Iraq.

Like the Chinese, Vladimir Putin, despite his undemocratic and heavy-handed tendencies, also believes in the nation-state. He appears to believe that a military should act only when national interests are threatened, retaliate ruthlessly when attacked, and leave those who survive the retaliation, if any, to rebuild if they wish to do so.

After Obama's disastrous withdrawal from Iraq, this idea has a certain appeal in America, which may be why we're suddenly seeing critiques of neoconservatism among some commentators.

The mistake the neocons made was to believe that democracy is the wave of the future. There are many things to admire about democracy—its inherent stability and legitimacy, for example—but we may have been too well conditioned by our childhood education to see that others might not believe in the value of democracy for its own sake.

Only if we are confident, honest, powerful, and economically successful, will people in other countries try to emulate our economic and political system. That is the lesson we can learn from psychology, and one we should have learned from the neocons.

But as long as there is one Democrat still breathing in this country, the policies of Putin remain more practical: we should not send a single troop abroad to risk their life to 'help' another country. Nor should we bomb them except in retaliation or to eliminate a danger. The anti-neocon idea is this: once the danger is eliminated, we should leave them to pick up the pieces, if they are not fused together. Putin is giving us a demonstration of this philosophy, and we'll see if it works.

It might seem contrary to the lesson we learned from WWII, but the anti-neocon ethic is the only alternative left after Vietnam and Iraq. A Marshall plan strategy will not work when resistance still remains, and Democratic policy ensures that resistance will always remain.

It is not just a matter of looking out for number one. Self-interest is the very essence of the nation-state system. That system is what is under threat today, not only by the Islamic terrorists, but by multiculturalists in Western countries. Leftists sympathize with Islamists because they have the same goal: to replace the nation state with a world government, a world living in harmony under one rule. They differ only in their methods. Islamists are trying to expand their territory by unconventional military force: terrorizing citizens to get them to pressure their governments to withdraw, and then colonizing the territory. Multiculturalists use international agreements to hamstring, paralyze, and eventually replace national governments. Both are slow processes, but the goal is the same.

As John Lennon put it in Imagine: “Imagine there's no countries, ... A brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world.” This is not just communism—it is a full-scale rejection of the nation-state.

A world government thus envisioned can only be stable in a world with shared values. This is why, at our universities, there is so little tolerance of diverse values and viewpoints: the only way a world government could be stable would be to impose a ruthless tyranny and a single value system. This goal has filtered down to the students. Imposing it globally would mean Soviet-style gulags and Maoist thought control. Ultimately, ethnic tensions would probably still tear it apart, and so they would have to eliminate all ethnic divisions, one way or another. Hence the left's obsession with race.

It may sound crazy to those of us who still believe that the Treaty of Westphalia was a pretty hoopy bit of thinking for Earthmen, but abandoning it is the price the left is now willing to pay for a ‘brotherhood of man.’ Too bad we have not yet evolved enough to make it happen without paying a terrible price.

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