[lit-ideas] Re: Victor Hanson in Iraq

  • From: Eric Yost <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 12:02:30 -0500

>>I'm not sure whether Brian agrees with Zinn or Hitchens. But it doesn't matter.

Sure it matters. It matters because a nation is not insulated from its defeat. Defeat is never good. Our post-Vietnam defeatist generation may think that it's good for a terrible policy to be defeated, for the troops to come home defeated, and for the population to realize they were complicit in a defeated terrible policy. (As though in some fantasy we could all sing peace songs together and realize the errors of our ways and live happily ever after.)

Defeat is always worse than any terrible policy that engenders it. Defeat leads to even more terrible policies, and ever more defeatist sentiment.

What Lawrence refers to as leftism is basically what I referred to as "suburban nihilism." a belief in nothing that also believes itself immune from defeat. As though the water will always run and the electricity will always be on, the government will always be guilty and wrong, and the "enlightened" people who dispose of what the "unenlightened" propose will always be secure enough to do so.

Defeat always makes things worse. The inept policies of Carter for example (who George McGovern called the worst President of his lifetime) were born of the defeat of Vietnam.

So the real issue is not leftist or suburban nihilist per se, but the consequences of defeat, our attitude toward defeat. Should we have gone into Iraq? That question matters less than our attitude toward defeat. It's a larger question than whether the neo-con agenda was stupid and cruel. It's a larger question than whether we can pompously and self-righteously moralize over prosecution of our elected leaders.

When and if China becomes the new global hegemon, I doubt there will be such masochist scruples in Beijing. By then, of course, we may have grasped the significance of defeat, and our whiny little voices full of moral outrage will be our only defense against our failure. Toy dogs snapping at the ankles of power.

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