Conservatives will at first find much to love in Thomas Sowell’s op-ed in today’s WSJ, as he identifies what’s really wrong with America’s Iraq project: Diversity
That word has become a sacred mantra, endlessly repeated for years on end, without a speck of evidence being asked for or given to verify the wonderful benefits it is assumed to produce.
Worse yet, Iraq is only the latest in a long series of catastrophes growing out of diversity. These include “ethnic cleansing” in the Balkans, genocide in Rwanda and the Sudan, the million lives destroyed in intercommunal violence when India became independent in 1947 and the even larger number of Armenians slaughtered by Turks during World War I.
Anti-neocon advocates of Realpolitik meanwhile will get a pleasant shiver at his thoughts on nation-building:
People are not building blocks, however much some may flatter themselves that they can arrange their fellow human beings’ lives the way you can arrange pieces on a chess board.
The biggest and most fatuous example of nation-building occurred right after World War I, when the allied victors dismembered the Habsburg Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Woodrow Wilson assigned a young Walter Lippman to sit down with maps and population statistics and start drawing lines that would define new nations.
Iraq is one of those new nations. Like other artificial creations in the Balkans, Africa and elsewhere, it has never had the cohesion of nations that evolved over the centuries out of the experiences of peoples who worked out their own modi vivendi in one way or another.
Presidential foes will in smile with anticipatory pleasure as Sowell gives them a turn and slips the shiv of “hubris” between the administration’s ribs:
Even before 9/11, there were some neoconservatives who talked about our achieving “national greatness” by creating democratic nations in various parts of the world.
How much influence their ideas have had on the actual course of events is probably something that will not be known in our generation. But we can at least hope that the Iraq tragedy will chasten the hubris behind notions of “nation-building”
Keeping that smile on their faces will require studious devotion to appearances though, as he turns his gaze again upon “diversity” – this is the Wall Street Journal, after all
(C)hasten also the pious dogmatism of those who hype “diversity” at every turn, in utter disregard of its actual consequences at home or abroad. Free societies have prerequisites, and history has not given all peoples those prerequisites, which took centuries to evolve in the West.
He concludes of course where right and serious thinker must – an awareness as to the limits of our strategic flexibility:
However we got into Iraq, we cannot undo history–even recent history–by simply pulling out and leaving events to take their course in that strife-torn country. Whether or not we “stay the course,” terrorists are certainly going to stay the course in Iraq and around the world.
Political spin may say that Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror, but the terrorists themselves quite obviously believe otherwise, as they converge on that country with lethal and suicidal resolve.
Whether we want to or not, we cannot unilaterally end the war with international terrorists. Giving the terrorists an epoch-making victory in Iraq would only shift the location where we must face them or succumb to them.
Everyone gets a rap and it all seems like a long walk to the small house of “stay the course,” until you reflect upon the simple truth of what he’s saying – there aren’t any other choices better than the one that professional football teams get every weekend in their coin toss:
Would you prefer to kick, or to receive?