December 20, 2011

Segue of the Year

Like the Oscars, they always pitch their best in December to try and get the coveted pick. But Bret Stephens, at the WSJ Ed Page schools this segue lover on how it is done.

As cosmic coincidences go, the deaths of Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il in the same week the U.S. pulled the last of its troops out of Iraq is hard to ignore. Havel made the exposure of tyranny the great task of his life. Kim was tyranny personified. And the war in Iraq was the bruising leap over the wall of global indifference behind which all tyrannies subsist.

The power of indifference is something I first understood from Havel himself after interviewing him, over a beer, in the gardens of Prague's Czernin Palace. The occasion was a June 2007 conference of international dissidents that he co-chaired with Israel's Natan Sharansky. I asked him about his views on the war in Iraq. He had once supported it, but now he was more tentative. The rationale, he said, had not been "well-articulated." The timing of the invasion was "questionable." As in the 1960s, the U.S. risked becoming an emblem of William Fulbright's "arrogance of power."

Then Havel stopped himself and, as he seemed wont to do, put the train of his thought in reverse. "The world," he concluded, "could not be indifferent forever to a murderer like Saddam Hussein."


I once read somewhere "During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world." I have not given up on Sharanskyism, but feel that we face an existential crisis in domestic policy. If we are to follow Europe's economic example, we will accept Europe's inability to alter events. This will please my Facebook friends and my big-L libertarian friends. But the cause of liberty and prosperity is not served.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at December 20, 2011 12:26 PM

And yet, in honoring those who served in Iraq, the president never mentions the dismantling of a despotic regime. Not once. Instead it's an opportunity for partisanship and ideology:

"See, there's a reason our military is the most respected institution in America. They don't see themselves or each other as Democrats first or Republicans first. They see themselves as Americans first.

(...)

This cannot be a country where division and discord stand in the way of our progress. This is a moment where we must come together to ensure that every American has the chance to work for a decent living, own their own home, send their kids to college, and secure a decent retirement."

"Our" progress? Every American had a better chance at all of those things, before government resolved to "help."

Posted by: johngalt at December 20, 2011 2:27 PM | What do you think? [1]