Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Michael Barone on the Benefits of Markets and Democracy

Michael Barone's latest U.S. News commentary lays out some positive indicators on global trends and America's world leadership:

After our victory in the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama proclaimed that we had reached "the end of history," by which he meant the end of any serious argument over what constitutes the best kind of society. That is disputed by the Islamist fascists who have made it clear that they will do whatever they can to inflict harm on our civilization; as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in his recent letter to President Bush, "Liberalism and western-style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today those two concepts have failed." That's obviously nonsense, of course. Free markets and democracy are chalking up one ringing achievement after another--as we can see from the surge in world economic growth and the reduction of armed conflict--while the Islamists can achieve their goals only through oppression and slaughter. Yes, they can inflict severe damage on us by asymmetric warfare, as they did on September 11, and we must continue to take determined action to prevent them from doing so again. Yes, a nuclear Iran is a severe threat. But we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that, in most important respects, our civilization is performing splendidly.


M1 said...
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M1 said...

Since when did Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the so-called Islamist fascists co-opt the position of credible representatives of a critique of Liberalism and western-style democracy? Of course Mahmoud is schizoid but does that mitigate in any way the voluminous critique that this Administration deserves as self-professed ambassadors of Liberalism and western-style democracy?

Am I to understand that the Manichean choice at hand stands between the vision conveyed by the opportunistic expropriations of Mahmoud's tirades and the Bush Administration's version of Liberalism and western-style democracy? Are our alternatives reduced to one or the other? Moron Mahmoud is as irrelevant in tending to our own backyard as last year's snow is to tomorrow's plans for the beach.

Is the Bush vision synonymous with the best of what we can do and optimal performance in the opportunity management of past, present, an future? I thinky not.

To paraphrase McCain, whose solution to everything appears to be that he is a wounded war hero, I believe that the Bush vision is a fine caricature of the worst that we can do within the framework of the opportunities afforded us. Whacko-Mahmoud's philippics (we call him Chad at SMC) hardly lets us or the Bush Administration off of the hook from drastic self examination and accountability.

Relativizing the one against the other to exclude all competent critique is a cheap shot and intellectually dishonest at best. It is the stuff of demagogues the likes of Chad, Goebbels, and other pedestaled seducers of the gullible.

And if this civilization of ours is performing splendidly as you put it, how then does a Burkean revolutionist envision something even more splendid?

PS As the Austrian Nazi chieftain of Holland said just before he was hanged for convictions on charges of waging wars of aggression at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg, "I hope that this . . . is the last act of the tragedy of the Second World War and that the lesson taken from this world war will be that peace and understanding should exist between peoples.” When diabolical tyrants make utterances of “peace” and “peoples,” they always do so to deceive and manipulate the populace. The only time that they utter such humanistic words with sincerity and belief is when they face imminent death"

Donald Douglas said...

Your Demosthenic vocabulary is impressive. But I wonder if you read Barone's whole piece. Here's the introduction:

"Things are better than you think. Yes, I know, most Americans are in a sour mood these days, convinced that the struggle in Iraq is an endless cycle of bloodshed, certain that our economy is in dismal shape, lamenting that the nation and the world are off on the wrong track. That's what polls tell us. But if we look at some other numbers, we'll find that we are living not in the worst of times but in something much closer to the best. What do I mean?"

I inserted the essay's last part about the clash of civilizations for the drama, but it's good in any case to have a refresher on the trends in global freedom. The (swede)meat of your argument has to do with questioning this Manichean trade off between competing sets of values, and with the hollowness of the Bush's version of values on the Western side, no? First, you can't blow off what Iran's president says. It is worth taking seriously anybody that speaks of wiping Israel off the face of the earth, especially the leader of a country that will at some time develop the capabilities. Second, I think Bush taps universal values. Maybe he doesn't sell the ideas that well, or at least not as well as McCain. And our approach isn't unassailable. Look up Madeliene Albright's essay in www.foreignaffairs.org, September/October 2003, for a forceful Democratic version of the rightness of the cause but an alternative to the methods.

P.S. I'd appreciate a tutorial on creating links inside the comments window, or at least a link to references as to where I can learn about it. Thanks.

M1 said...

I am not left speechless by your reply but I am found in dire need of sleep so I shall reply in full tomorrow. Suffice it say for tired ol' now, you are far too kind and I had to Websterize
Demosthenic without becoming any wiser per intuitve understanding. But I shall not desist stubborn comprehension.

As for the technical query - it coincides with a head scratcher of my own that I ended up directing towards Effwit. I can't remember the answer though I received one and archived it some damnwhere. I will have to beg for a stay of answer till tomorrow when I shall deal with all other procrastinations.

You're a good sport for not moderating comments and daring to respond to most of them despite the generic knowledge that life is short. But then again, a good dialectic is the only road to salvation.

And what a sport you are for reciprocating with your own typos and misspellings. You truly know how to make a meatball of one feel comfortable.

Tomorrow, Kali-Kid

Donald Douglas said...

Is that "Madeleine" Albright? Even a retentive speller like me let's a misspell slip through from time to time. Have Effwit cruise over to the Burkean site, if he's up to it. I can always talk to the technologists at my campus instructional development center, either way. And get some sleep, if you expect to mount an honorable ideational wrangle!

M1 said...


Here's the techy part, cut and pasted from Effwit's advice to the Meatball posse. Notice that the instructions contain rather laborious substitutions of brackets. This is just so I can post this instructional here without the code being read/interpreted by the browser. Here we go:

Use the html anchor format, as follows.

Note: Substitute < or > for the [ or ] that I use in the examples.
The examples won't send properly if I use the real < or >.

If you want the reader to get a hot link to SMC, for example, you
would use the following html:

[a href="http://swedemeat.blogspot.com/"]Swedish Meatballs

Remember to replace [ with <, and ] with >

You must use the quotation marks around the URL, too.

And the only space allowed is between a and href at the very
beginning, and that space is required.

Where the words Swedish Meatballs Confidential are in my example, you
can put any words you want and those will be viewed by the reader.

Donald Douglas said...

Thank you, man, and Effwit too! You guys are pros!

M1 said...

Call us Commies - that would be a much better misrepresentation than pros.