In a crisis, if a rational moral standard is discarded, pragmatism, allied with altruism, is the only recourse open to men attempting to end the crisis. Then the only deciding factor in a resolution is "pressure" on the conflicting parties to abandon or compromise their positions. A pragmatic standard, after all, would require recognition not of an absolute, non-negotiable value, but the fluid, subjective "ethos" that renders all values "value-neutral," and satisfy no one but the pragmatists. If a value is said to be no better than any other, it is implied that it cannot be so important that its defense is worth the risk of destruction, "violence," or a "disproportionate" action.
The news media reflects this philosophy in its choice of phrases and terms in reporting the Israeli-Hezbollah war. The reportage of the conflict, in general, is as far removed from reality as the thinking of the diplomats who are scrambling to stave off a wider conflict and evade having to take a moral stand.
There are no heroes in any news report. For example, John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, when appointed by President Bush to that position, was billed and subsequently excoriated by the press and media as a "hardliner" contemptuous of the U.N. and likely to start fist fights with the America-haters on the Security Council or in the U.N. cafeteria. But Bolton's tough talk mellowed; he has predictably succumbed to the corrupting ethic of the U.N.'s value-neutral pragmatism. It is Bolton who worked with French U.N. ambassador Jean-Marc La Sabliere on the wording of the resolution calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon.
MSNBC reports that Bolton told the Associated Press, "We're still pressing for a vote on a resolution as early as we can, but we've got to reach agreement, and there are still a lot of issues that need to be considered. So, when will the vote be? It's hard to say at this point."
Certainly not Mike Hammer speaking. Bolton subsequently, at France's behest (and on instruction from Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice), agreed to amend the wording and points of the resolution to accommodate the concerns of Arab League diplomats. And, yesterday, Rice announced a cease-fire "deal" that all parties, but most especially Israel, can "live with." A policy of pragmatism must necessarily focus on and require the submission of the victim, in this instance, Israel, not on the aggressor, in this instance, Iran, by way of Hezbollah. Absolutes, such as Israel's right to self-defense, are not options when pragmatists are "brokering" a peace. The rule that the "best defense is an offense," initially subscribed to by Israel (after years of retreat) is not to be found in any diplomatic manual.
La Sabliere, of course, acted on instructions from French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy (at the behest of President Jacques Chirac), who, according to BBC News, asserted that "there could be no military solution to the crisis -- so Israel must stop the shooting, as well as Hezbollah." France, so chic and sophisticated and worldly in some respects, is Europe's premiere connoisseur of pragmatism. Douste-Blazy recently met with his Iranian counterpart in Beirut and praised Iran as a "stabilizing force" in the Mideast. I am betting that the Iranian foreign minister retreated to a restroom out of earshot, and doubled up in laughter.
France, of course, seeks to ingratiate itself not only with its Arab friends, but also with its own hostile, refractory Muslim population.
Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, very likely surrendering to "pressure" from its alleged ally, the U.S., has indicated he is open to a U.N.-sponsored international force to secure the border between Israel and Lebanon. Which is tantamount to expecting the Visigoths to protect Rome against the Huns.
The U.S., ready to "negotiate" its commitment to Israel's existence, has also predictably allowed France to set the terms of resolution. BBC News reports that "France is at the center of intense diplomatic efforts to bring about a cease-fire in Lebanon, in the face of grave risks that the conflict could spread out of control. Does France hold the key to peace in the Middle East?"
No. It holds the key to further strife there, in the form of more attacks on Israel. There are no terms of reconciliation possible between Israel's wish to survive and the Arabs' wish for Israel to perish, either immediately or by bleeding it to death from endless suicidal concessions.
The Associated Press reported on MSNBC: "At an open Security Council meeting on Tuesday, Qatar's Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani, speaking on behalf of the Arab delegation [to the U.N.], warned Israel that continuing attacks on Lebanon will 'sow the seeds of hatred and extremism in the area' rather than restore peace and stability."
One must wonder if the reporter who filed this story presumed Jassem was speaking tongue-in-cheek. First, it was Israel that was attacked. Second, it is Lebanon that has served as the Arab world's "neutral" launching pad for rockets and other assaults on Israel, acting as a "democratic" proxy for its enmity for Israel. Third, the "seeds of hatred and extremism" were sown decades ago; the hatred and "extremism" emanating from diplomatic lounges and the "Arab street" show no signs of abating.
The West's concept of a "stabilized" Mideast is based on a Hegelian notion of the marriage of thesis and antithesis -- Israel coexisting with the Arabs -- to attain some ethereal apotheosis in human evolution and "multicultural" relations. The Arabs' concept of a "stabilized" Mideast is simply the obliteration of Israel. Name one ayatollah, imam (abroad or here at home), Iranian president, Jordanian king, Palestinian or Hamas thug, Syrian dictator, Hezbollah cleric or Saudi or Pakistani madrassa that hasn't preached that concept and goal and never minded its being known to the West. Which concept is dotty, and which is "realistic"?
Hitler was being "realistic" in his appraisal of France and Britain's moral fiber and commitment to the sovereignty of nations he wished to conquer. The diplomatic waffling of Britain's Neville Chamberlain especially only emboldened Hitler to move into Poland, the Rhineland, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Similarly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has taken the measure of the U.S.'s commitment to defend Israel. He has already dared to send Iranian "volunteers" to fight alongside Hezbollah, in addition to supplying rockets and other war matériel by way of Syria.
Significantly, there has not been one news item anywhere reporting that Ahmadinejad, a pig for publicity, has denied the charge.
Correspondents of mine have precisely described as "reactive" overall Western behavior since 9/11 and the Islamic declaration of war on the West, and particularly on the U.S., while the creation of Homeland Security, TSA and all the nascent totalitarian restrictions being imposed on Americans they likened to erecting a virtual Maginot line (which the Germans, when they moved on France, simply bypassed) to keep out the Hun.
I'll go one better, and liken our current policy to a permanent circling of the wagons, or building a stockade to repair to next to a frontier town, with no hope that the cavalry will ever come to the rescue by eradicating the Indian war parties and lifting the siege, because it's pinned down up at Little Big Horn. That is what our policy has done, transformed the world into a frontier in which civilized men exist in constant peril, and the Indians may roam and raid at will, untouchable, because that is their "lifestyle" and their grievances over encroaching civilization are legitimate and beyond judgment.
That is, the West has accepted, indefinitely, as a norm, a state of siege. A state of siege requires the diminution of the freedom and liberties of the besieged, which is what we are witnessing now in the U.S. The besiegers will do as they please, and keep probing for weaknesses, or find a way to bypass our Maginot line. And all we will do is "react."
It is certainly pragmatic to prohibit paying passengers from taking liquids, make-up, toothpaste and laptop computers on board commercial planes to thwart suicide bombers. But this is merely another example of a siege philosophy, a policy to protect the country from enemies the Bush administration refuses to acknowledge and attack. Do these restrictions on Americans serve to preserve freedom, liberty and other rights that creatures like Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security, claim they are serving? Hardly.
What is preventing the U.S. from dealing with Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia as they should be dealt with, that is, as enemies dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the U.S. and candidates for a thorough, debilitating military reduction? For one thing, our State Department. John Bolton hales from the State Department. Condoleezza Rice now heads that department. Both have been either seduced or corrupted by it. One would need to go back more than half a century to find the name of an individual in that department who boasted an iota of moral courage.
Our State Department is markedly anti-American. It has been staffed by leftists, One-World loons, and Hegelians for decades. It has worked to undermine or sabotage every semi-assertive, semi-rational policy adopted by various occupants of the White House over the last forty or so years, rare as those policies have been.
Another disruptive factor is multiculturalism, which acts as a cognitive anticoagulant that stops the West from formulating and adopting a solid, assertive, and self-assertive moral policy vis-à-vis its enemies. One isn't likely to proclaim freedom, individual rights and press freedom (too much) if one is convinced that those values aren't superior to or any better than abject submission to religious tyranny or other form of "cultural" collectivism. They are just "different," beyond judgment, beyond comparison.
A mind poisoned by multiculturalism and suborned by political correctness will see no difference between, say, Rudolph Evans's magnificent statue of an intransigently proud Jefferson in the rotunda of the Jefferson Memorial and the degrading, obsequious figure of a Muslim bowing to Mecca. Such a mind would shudder at the prospect of swearing eternal hostility to anything, never mind to every form of tyranny over the mind of man. That kind of language is banished from the minds of our pragmatic policymakers.
But, these are the kinds of minds that are preparing the U.S., Israel and the West for future turmoil and disaster.