Thursday, August 2, 2007

Liberal Arrogance

They want instant mashed potatoes, microwave popcorn, one hour
martinizing and Democracies Built in a Day. When they don't get what they want, they scream at waiters and berate dry cleaning clerks for making the coffee to strong, the taters too mushy and the starched shirts too stiff. And, they point to a "bunch of Arabs," sneer, and say "it will never work." They're talking about the Iraqi Parliament and Maliki government, who has been in office for a tad more than a year.

During this year, they have been battling a wicked insurgency, struggling to get the petroleum infrastructure up and keep a lid on sectarian mistrust that has existed for centuries. Meanwhile, the American left sits in comfortable, air conditioned offices and dismisses their efforts as meaningless.

The lack of Christian sectarian violence in western civilization is a fairly recent phenomenon. For centuries, Christian western powers fought religious wars against each other, killing each other in population proportions that make the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq look like a rush hour fender bender. Through a period of Rennaissance and Reformation, western civilization was able to rise above the propensity for violence and settle political, sectarian and religious disputes through a combination of tolerance and dialogue. We are not perfect, but we are not the barbarous slaughtering machines we were for the first thousand years or so after the founding of the Church.

It is the height of liberal arrogance to dismiss the efforts of the Iraqis to resolve their own differences. As our own history painfully points out, these things take time. Western civilization overcame its history. What makes us so special that we should believe Arabs can not do the same? These Arabs are the people who gave western engineers the concept of Zero. "Algebra" is an Arabic word. The most ancient Iraqis, the Sumerians, gave western civilization the written word. We are not talking about an ethnic group incapable of rational, intelligent thought. If we believe them intelligent and capable, then we should also believe them capable of working out their differences without killing each other. Mesopotamia is an ancient and beautiful land. Its people deserve the chance to live their in peace. It is in the United States' vital national interests to see the establishment of a peaceful and stable Iraq. But it is up to Iraqis to want that too, and want it badly enough to be willing to die for it. If they are willing to die for it, then they are willing to tolerate political and religious differences that do not, in the end, make them any less Arab or any less Iraqi than anyone else.

They are capable of doing that. To believe otherwise is the height of liberal arrogance and bigotry.