"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Of Weak Leaders, Immigrants and Tragedy

We get the leaders we deserve and choose the immigrants that reflect our culture.

Why Western governments fall apart and the coming tragedy

Robert Spengler, an essayist at AsiaTimes:

Never have the governments of the old Atlantic alliance appeared as weak as they do today. President George W Bush, his popularity ruined and his political agenda junked, is boxed into a corner, but his position seems enviable compared to that of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who just lost a decisive battle over anti-terror measures. 

But both appear strong compared to President Jacques Chirac, who has let France slip into civil unrest. Germany, despite last week's appointment of Angela Merkel as federal chancellor, in effect has no government, for the parallelogram of political forces neutralizes all parties. Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi must do his best to avoid prison after the seizure of funds from his media company.

The leaders of the West seem to somnambulate through affairs of state, oblivious to the disaster around them. In her mercy, history anesthetizes those whom she intends to destroy, wrote Leon Trotsky in his History of the Russian Revolution. He had in mind Czar Nicholas II's diary entries for the days before the October Revolution of 1917, full of court gossip and the minutiae of family life, but without a glimmer of the doom soon to befall him.

No part of the political spectrum can take comfort from this predicament. Those who want to subject American policy to the counsel of the world community, as Senator John Kerry proposed, now have difficulty identifying who that world community might be ? surely not France, which has become an embarrassment, and surely not the United Nations, which has a black eye from its scandal-plagued Iraq oil-for-food program. Only in Beijing and Tokyo do we find strong governments in powerful nations.

Is it simple coincidence that the West cannot field a single functioning government? The punditry dismisses Bush as dumb, Blair as smarmy, Chirac as arrogant, Berlusconi as bent, and Merkel - well, when they discover some identifying characteristics of the new German chancellor, the punditry doubtless will find grounds to dismiss her as well. Perhaps it is just the luck of the draw, but the odds do not favor the interpretation that all the big nations of the West had the misfortune to find themselves led by ninnies at precisely the same time.

What is it about the personalities of Western leaders, though, that might explain their common predicament? Perhaps it is the fact that the leaders of the West mirror the qualities of the people who voted for them. Americans are obstreperously anti-intellectual, and chose a president with whom they can identify. The British always have been hypocrites, and elected the most hypocritical of prime ministers. The average Frenchman is no less arrogant than the president of the republic, while the Germans, at least since 1945, have devoted their storied thoroughness to becoming as nondescript as possible. Almost every Italian is on the fiddle, and it is fitting for their prime minister to be fiddler-in-chief.

That leads to a simple interpretation of the general crisis of Western politics, namely, that the people of the West, as it were, are the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is not the leaders of the West per se, but rather the voters who put them in office, who comprise the problem.

To make clear why the French are the wrong sort of people to begin with, consider why American Muslims do not sally out by night to burn cars. A very different sort of Muslim emigrates to the United States; according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, more than half of American Muslims hold a graduate degree. Among the brightest Arabs, Persians or Pakistanis, a high proportion seeks graduate training in the United States, especially in engineering, computer sciences, physics and chemistry. The median income of Muslim households in the United States is above average.

American immigration laws, to be sure, favor the rich, the talented and educated. But that sheds some light on the character of the United States, which absorbs immigrants directly into its elite. Europe, which allows barely one in eight of its school leavers into university, does not want immigrants who might displace the local talent. It has recruited an immigrant population of dustmen, whose children burn cars out of frustration...The reason that the leaders of France can offer no solution to the present crisis is that no solution exists...

Apparently Spengler is not familiar with the characteristics of most of the immigrants from Mexico. However, as many of them are illegal, and thus not chosen, Spengler's thesis should hold up.

The tragedy of the Americans, I have argued in the past, is that they cannot understand the tragedy of other peoples. With force as deadly as the mounted hordes of the past, America's influence has swept through the world and overturned the traditional order, leaving ill-prepared peoples to fend for themselves in the chaos...Americans selected themselves according to precisely the criteria that make democracy succeed.

Americans selected themselves according to precisely the criteria that make democracy succeed... it is clever Indians and Chinese who have emigrated, either by accumulating capital in business or by passing competitive examinations to obtain a university degree.

Spengler predicted that the War (really the Battle of) in Iraq would lead to a civilizational war by the tragic figure of George W. Bush.

Comparing the inevitability of World War I, Spengler avers that to counter the the rise of nuclear powered states in the Muslim world, Pakistan, Iran and others, the West is compelled to act, with the same tragic result...inevitable future conflict that will be "ruinous beyond imagination."

But an even deadlier threat is "Europe's demographic collapse and the replacement of European Christians by Middle Eastern and North African Muslims."
Tragic strategy extends to Turkey, Russia, the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union.

According to Spengler:

Washington believes that stabilizing Iraq will stabilize the entire region: Moscow knows that the Iraq war already has destabilized the region. In the 21st century version of the Great Game, Russia's winning chess move is to replace Turkey as the dominant power in Central Asia...

It is more probable that Turkey will revert to an Islamic model under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan than it is that Iraq will emerge as a secular democracy on the old Turkish model. Erdogan wants involvement in regional conflict less than anything in the world, except for one thing, which is the humiliation of Turkic populations in adjacent countries. He no more can remain indifferent to the plight of ethnic Turks in the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union than could Nicholas II of Russia abandon the Serbs to Austria in 1914. By the same token, Russia does not want to engage its weakened and demoralized army in a foreign venture. But it no more can remain indifferent to Turkish agitation in the Caucasus and Black Sea than could Austria tolerate Russian subsidies to Serbian terrorists in 1914.

Those are the characters in the next act of the tragedy, and their motivations. The role of tragic lead falls to George W Bush...

As we wait for the next shoe to fall, European Muslims are agitating to establish the Millet system as under the Ottoman Empire, self-segregated housing paid by public monies in the UK, Muslim-ruled cities in Sweden, Muslim inspired speech censorship in Australia, and lawsuits against authors critical of Islam and Muslims.

The tragedy is multifaceted. Not only do we have weak leaders at this point in the War of Civilizations, but as in the prelude to WWI, most deny the legitimacy of conflict in the West and refuse to take action. And, as in Europe, we are in danger of being taken over from within.


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