I haven't been posting over the last several days as I await the transfer of this blogsite to a new and improved server. Should happen any day now.
Meanwhile, I just wanted to alert readers to my upcoming appearance as guest-host of "Book Notes" on C-SPAN this weekend. I will be interviewing Pat Buchanan about his newbook "Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology and Greed Are Tearing America Apart."
The book is a Buchanan-esque (un-sugarcoated) overview of the weaknesses PB sees afflicting the Union, both domestically, and in regard to a foreign policy I would agree is over-reaching in its stated goal, as President Bush put it in his Second Inaugural Address, of "ending tyranny in our world." The book is, of course, bracing in its assessments. It also taught me a few things. For example, PB reviews a symposium he participated in back in 1989 sponsored by The National Interest in which a selection of writers (including Chas. Krauthammer, Ben Wattenberg, Jeane Kirkpatrick) were asked to discuss what US foreign policy should look like after the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union. This was before the Berlin Wall actually came down.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick contributed an essay called "A Normal Country in Normal Times" in which she discussed the "unnatural importance" foreign affairs had assumed over a half century of war and Cold War, and her contention that "most of the international military obligations that we assumed were once important are now outdated." Sounding a note at odds with what we now think of as neoconservative doctrine to democratize as much of the world as possible (robustly expressed then and now by Messrs. Krauthammer and Wattenberg, for example), she wrote: "It is not America's purpose to establish `universal dominance'...not even the universal dominance of democracy...It is not even within the United States' power to democratize the world." I definitely plan to take a closer look at this symposium.
Much has changed all over again in the 18 years since 1989, but one of "Day of Reckoning's" most compelling arguments is Pat's contention that we are in a period of "imperial overstretch," overcommitted and overburdened by defensive alliances with some 60 countries, many of whom are fully fat and happy enough to take on the cost and obligations of their own defense.
His chapter on free trade, which he calls "Colony of the World," is also an eye-opener.
Writing about what he calls "the gospel according to George W. Bush," he seizes on the same messianic devotion to democratizing Islamic cultures (whose authoritarian and religious traditions are wholly at odds with Western-style liberty) that I do in The Death of the Grown-Up. Where he emphasizes the fervor to democratize as the primary motivation, I ascribe it more directly to the multiculturalism that preaches that all peoples, civilizations, religions are the same. This positively delusional belief has practically destroyed the ability to discern and articulate difference across the political spectrum.
The biggest hole in the book for me is its abrupt dismissal of the Islamic threat to Western liberty and culture. While Pat does at least acknowledge a threat to Europe, and an "existential threat" to Israel, he points to the disunity of the Islamic world (54 countries of disparate regions and ethnicities) and the relatively small output (Gross Domestic Product) of these same countries (OIL ASIDE, which neither manufacture nor invent their technological necessesities, from consumer products to weaponry. These reasons, plus a small Muslim demographic in the US, he says, are why the US has nothing to fear from expansionist, jihadist Islam.
How could I disagree more? I find it more than passing strange that he utterly ignores the ideological aspect of Islam as expressed loud and clear by all manner of Muslims, whether active participants in jihad or not. This Islamic ideology threatens our way of life every bit as much as communism once did. More, even. Even where he discusses the threat posed by Al Qaeda, he sees not ideology but only worldly political grievances as set out in Al Qaeda communiques prepared specifically for Western audiences. He omits, discounts or perhaps doesn't know about the Arabic communiques, which have been diligently translated for us in The Al-Qaeda Reader by Ray Ibrahim, that trumpet for Muslim audiences the classical, age-old calls to jihad--something no imagined political redress can assuage. I think this same failure to assess the religio-ideological aspect of Islam is what enables him to imagine negotiations with Iran--something he urges--could possibly be worthwhile. Negotiations with a mullah-cracy operating on the jihadist spiritual plane, not the here-and-now, are worse than pointless.
He also overlooks the concrete manifestations of creeping sharia in the US, a cultural change every bit as transformative as the Hispanization of the culture through mass immigration, which he forthrightly laments. Nor does he reckon with our increasingly supplicant attitudes toward our oil-masters. the penetration of Wall Street by Islamic finance (although he's definitely upset about the global penetration of American business and finance more generally), and the colonization of American campuses by Islamic millions that buy chairs and whole departments for Islamic apologists. Somewhat surprisingly, given his un-PC, no-holds-barred career as a commentator, he also discounts US media failure to publish the Danish Mohammed Cartoons, which I see as a consequence of American dhimmitude. He sees the affair in terms of a needless "insult" to Islam.
The program airs on Saturday, 12/15 at 9 pm, Sunday, 12/16 at 6pm and 9pm, and Monday, 12/17 at 12 am and 3 am.