In general, I think Goldman usually had better arguments than Reilly, but for this specific instance, Goldman's argument that the US should hire foreign mercenaries instead of trying to fill the ranks at home, is deeply mistaken. If there is anything the Forever War started by 9/11 has proved, it is that the US can recruit, train, and deploy quietly competent servants of empire out of the vast American hinterlands.
It isn't clear that we have any grand strategy for deploying them, but it is still true that we can direct rough men to kill people and break things in the service of state as well as anyone.
Spengler, The Darwin Awards, and a Secularist Manifesto
That Spengler at Asia Times seems to be losing the old Faustian spirit, at least with regard to the War on Terror, if we may so judge by his most recent column:
Like or not, the US will get chaos, and cannot do anything to forestall it. My advice to President George W Bush: When chaos is inevitable, learn to enjoy it. Take a weekend at Camp David with a case of Jack Daniels and Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest ...
Nonetheless, note that is Spengler is not among those who fear the victory of Islam: he speaks instead of its decomposition:
But the US is in large measure responsible for the chaos that overstretches the world from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. Trade, information and entrepreneurship have turned the breakdown of traditional society in the Islamic world into a lapsed-time version of the Western experience. ...
In any case, he makes bold to offer the US some deeply unsound advice:
The US has the wrong sort of military to engage the enemies it currently confronts, for it has the wrong sort of population whence to recruit soldiers...The cultural lacuna that cripples US arms cannot be filled quickly. As a long-term solution, the US might establish a National Intelligence Academy in parallel to West Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs, and train the sort of intelligence officers it requires from the outset...The best solution would be to adopt the French model, in the form of a Foreign Legion based offshore. The world still is full of first-rate soldiers with a Russian or South African pedigree who are not suited to civilian life. By extension, Washington might issue Letters of Marque to private entities to deal with enemies at arm's length. .
This Spengler is as misguided as Ferguson.
* * *
The infallible sign of fiscal idiocy in the United States during the 1990s was the advocacy of a Balanced Budget Amendment for the federal constitution. And look: it's back again, among the contenders for the Republican Presidential nomination of 2008:
WASHINGTON, DC – As part of his comprehensive three-point plan for fiscal responsibility, Senator George Allen (R-VA) today introduced legislation that would call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget and restore discipline and accountability in Washington. In a floor speech after introducing the measure, Senator Allen called on his colleagues to join him in the effort to “ensure the next generation of Americans is not burdened with overwhelming debt or higher taxes” as a result of wasteful and irresponsible spending.
“Balancing the budget is not just a matter of making sure that expenditures are equal to revenue; it’s about making sure that the Federal Government fulfills its proper, focused constitutional role—and not expanding into everything including matters reserved to the people or the States. Because, we all know that a big, bloated government stifles innovation, saps initiative and reduces personal responsibility,” said Senator Allen in his floor statement.
Actually, balancing the budget is just a matter of making sure that expenditures equal revenue. That's what budgets are for.
* * *
But here is a good idea, the best concept for a film I have read in a long time. I will certainly see The Darwin Awards:
Over the last few years the Darwin Awards have built up a dedicated worldwide following. Named after evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin the awards are bestowed annually upon those individuals who instigate the most idiotic accidents of the year – thereby doing the human race a favour by removing themselves from the gene-pool!
Now for the first time, this global phenomenon is being made into a motion picture. Finn Taylor, the writer director of DREAM WITH THE FISHES and CHERISH has assembled an all star cast led by WINONA RYDER and JOSEPH FIENNES to pay tribute to some of the very best (or should that be worst) Darwin Awards of all time.
It is a comedy, of course.
* * *
Jyllands-Posten publishes things in addition to cartoons, among them recently a manifesto entitled Together facing the new totalitarianism. [Hat-tip to Cosmophant.] The manifesto as signed by such worthies Bernard-Henri Lévy, Ibn Warraq, and Salman Rushdie: most of the signers are Muslims and ex-Muslims. You can find the text and links here, as well as some criticism to which I will get in a moment. The manifesto itself reads in part:
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
The criticism comes in part from conservatives (my link is to an American, but the sentiment is not unknown in Europe), who point out this text seems to delegitimize opposition to the Jihad if the opposition is not secular. Indeed, the text might be seen to be as hostile to European tradition as Islamism is hostile to it.
There is also so this: some of the signers seem to be advocates of the "two-poles" theory of evil in the 21st century, which has it that the European Enlightenment is threatened equally by Islamic terrorism and state terrorism from the United States. Marym Namazie, one of the signers and apparently an Iranian Communist, is said to express these sentiments in this interview. (Non-Danish-speaking readers must wait for the English-language section.)
The Enlightenment is a bit beyond our likes and dislikes by this point. All politics, including all forms of conservatism and traditionalism, are as much manifestations of the Enlightenment as are Marxism and post-humanism. Yes, there are western theocrats: they are creatures of the Enlightenment, too, though they are also as rare as hen's teeth.
The Jihad is an assault on the whole of the West. The attempt by secularists to use the Jihad to launch a civil war within the West against their opponents on the Right is worthy of a Darwin Award.
Copyright © 2006 by John J. Reilly