When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

November 20, 2004

Lust for Peace

Demosophist

I watch LinkTV via satellite every once in awhile, and it's just brimming with these authentic looking and rather exotic documentaries. I saw one today that stars a double amputee in Kampuchea, who invented some special wheelchair that he teaches people to use. Almost as an afterthought to this humanitarian presentation the filmmakers present the US bombing in the '70s and the land-mining of Cambodia that resulted in most of the amputees. And after mentioning that fact they more or less state flatly that the unconscionable bombing and mining left a disorder that "led to" the rise of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. So if I were watching this program and wasn't aware of the details, and perhaps had an innate revulsion for war, I'd just assume that this was all presented honestly. The unavoidable inference is that the US = Khmer Rouge = genocide.

But what has always amazed me is that otherwise intelligent people who swallow this perspective also believe that they're "independent" in spirit, when they do so. It never occurs to them that they're being spoon fed a point of view, and that there are flaws in the tapestry that really ought to be questioned by an intelligent and independent spirit. Like, yeah there are power vacuums created by lots of circmustances that are negative, indifferent, or even positive... but they aren't always filled by genocidal murderers. Like the fact that if the families of the amputees are economically devastated, left to prostitution and begging, might not the ideology and legacy of socialism be partly to blame for the dearth of opportunities? Like the fact that if the aftermath of the bombing left a power vacuum in Cambodia, what about the overnight exit of American forces from Indochina at the behest of the "peace movement?" And this raises the question that if we suddenly pulled out of Iraq at the urging of the current peace movement (the more war, but later movement) would the role of that pullout in the resulting internecine turmoil be forgotten, and the consequences simply ascribed to US aggression again? You bet it would. The 'peace movement" stands around with wide eyes and hands displayed, palms forward, saying "We din't do nuthin'," and we wonder, are they just stupid? Or is something else going on.

I really wouldn't mind supporting an exotic and humanitarian mission if it weren't infused with the sort of mind poison these folks are sewing like seeds of change.

Lloyd Cohen, a law professor at George Mason University, wrote a paper recently about the "Palestinian Problem" that has a novel thesis. He says that the problem is really the consequence of Israeli lust. He's basically building a case that for cultural and circumstantial reasons Israelis have been swept up by the dream that they could trade land for peace, without noticing that the Arab populations and leadership in the region aren't motivated by a desire for peace, but by a desire for revenge. The "lust for peace" has distorted Israeli thinking and policy and led to the development of a cancer. So, I'm thinking that if this thesis applies to Israel, perhaps it has broader implications?

A theme of a book I feel is one of the seminal works of the young 21st Century, Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism, is that the peace movements of the last 150 years have been animated by "wishful thinking," which helps to explain their often self-destructive behavior. But my friend's thesis takes a step beyond that, to say that it's not merely a wish for, but a lust for peace that's the root of this evil. It makes sense because the tendency of lust to cloud the mind and induce a kind of tunnel vision, obscures causal chains that aren't part of the unnaturally narrowed focus of extreme desire. The concept explains not only the behavior of a few aging bell-bottom-wearing nostalgic ex-hippies or their modern deconstructionist emulators, but also the single-minded obsession of a Paul Krugman, or the lapse in professional judgment of a Dan Rather. And it's also something that could well have animated a Kerry administration had he won, in spite of what he claimed about his resolve to throttle the terrorists with his own bare hands.

I think it's time we begin to look beyond mere ideology, and to consider the role that lust may be playing at the heart of liberalism.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia and The Jawa Report)

Launched by Demosophist at November 20, 2004 03:24 PM
Neutiquam erro... Retaliates with: I find this rather amazing
American Digest Retaliates with: The Legacy of the Long Peace

Retaliatiory Launches

Well, it would help explain why so many people parrot the line "violence never solved anything" when it is so manifestly false.

I've gotten so that I just growl, "I'm sure Carthaginians agree," and walk away...

Posted by: cthulhu at November 21, 2004 05:58 AM

One doesn't need to be a misty-eyed pacifist in order to see the venality of much of the American involvement in violence. One does need to be in serious denial to ignore it, however. "The Bottom Line" is rarely a good reason to kill people, IMO. Call me kooky, what the hell.

You're absolutely right that these films called documentaries are informed by the cultural, political, religious, and social bias of their creators. I've not seen the documentary you talk about, but your reply seemed to indicate that the claims were 'distortions of the truth' rather than 'outright lies' - ie, you didn't seem to disagree with the assertion that it was US bombing that led to amputees and power-vacuum, just that it wasn't necessarily our fault that the Khmer Rouge was the sect that happened to fill it. I'd be inclined to agree that the documentary, as you expressed it, didn't tell 'the whole story' - but show me one that does...

It's my experience that we (collectively) applaud the 'documentaries' that agree with our prejudices as 'fair' and 'even-minded' and 'well thought out', but those that we disagree with are called 'biased', 'prejudiced', 'mind-poison', etc.

Posted by: Steve at November 23, 2004 05:58 PM

Steve:

Well I don't know for a fact that the bombing of Cambodia created a power vacuum or even a depressurization, but I do know that this was a backup story that was adopted by Noam Chomsky after he had tried and failed to sell a false story that the killing fields really weren't happening. And I also strongly suspect that although the bombing causeed a certain amount of disruption the really cataclysmic event for the region was our pullout of Vietnam, because that was something the region simply could not recover from.

We had become the protector of liberal aspirations, and however weak you feel those asperiations were, in both Vietnam and Cambodia, once we were gone liberals who were left without protection were simply slaughtered. And after that, everyone who had ever had contact with liberal aspirations, or who had even worn western spectacles, for that matter.

And that, my friend, is the real legacy of the anti-Vietnam War movement, and what Chomsky desperately attempted to cover up, first with a tapestry of lies and false data, and when that failed with this bogus story that we created the power vacuum and other social conditions that made the Khmer Rouge inevitable. And to understand why this "story" was a necessity for Chomsky, you have to understand the boneheaded dialectic that he uses to explain history. Here's a link to a passage from Paul Berman's book that I posted on my original blog. It'll at least get you started.

That fact is that this particular "distortion of history" has some especially dark connotations. And yes, it is a "lie," in every sense of the term. I think that were something similar to happen in the Middle East (a pullout at the behest of the peace movement) what would follow would make the Cambodian Killing Fields look like a Sunday picnic. Yes, very dark indeed.

Posted by: Demosophist at November 24, 2004 03:43 AM

free hit counter