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Who Can Cross the Partisan Divide? Can the Left Abandon Appeasement?

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Is The West Too Soft To Be Ruthless?

by Christopher Chantrill
July 25, 2006 at 11:39 am

CONSERVATIVES are taking a look today at the meaning of “proportionality.” Asks John Podhoretz:

What if liberal democracies have now evolved to a point where they can no longer wage war effectively because they have achieved a level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any really cold-eyed pursuit of their own national interests?

Or you could wonder, with the more pungent Mark Steyn, what to do in your state when

the bumper stickers proclaim confidently, War Is Not the Answer.

It’s true, Steyn writes, war is not the answer. War is the question: “[I]s what you are worth defending?”

“You may not be interested in war,” said Trotsky, “but war is interested in you.”

The logic of appeasement is that it is the logical course of action for a people that does not yet realize how interested war is in them. Only when they catch up with reality do they switch from appeasement to resistance.

Podhoretz asks the question:

Could World War II have been won by Britain and the United States if the two countries did not have it in them to firebomb Dresden and nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

The answer is that in the 1930s they did not have it in them to firebomb innocent civilians. It took the crucible of war and the London Blitz to rile them up enough to find ruthless warriors like “Bomber” Harris and Curtis LeMay that had it in them to carpet bomb German and Japanese cities.

After the war, of course, those with delicate sensibilities could start second guessing, and build distinguished academic careers building the nuanced case that the strategic bombers, the ruthless men of action, were monsters.

The point is that in today’s war we are not “there” yet. We are not to the point where we are willing to go ruthless in the War on Terror.

For the Israelis, of course, that point has already been reached. If they do not take out Hezbollah then they are saying that it is OK to rain missiles on the Israeli heartland. For them the years of proportionate response are over.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill