Wait! Come Back! We Didn't Mean It!
Come back! We were just kidding! We don’t hate you, really! So will come the supplications from the once-proud democracies of Europe. Turns out America as the world’s lone superpower might not be so bad after all. As Russian fascism re-emerges, transmogrified into what one might euphemistically call a “Corporate State,” and China’s leaders show no signs of taking their boots off of their citizens’ faces, the brave soldiers for democracy of the traditional European states are ready once again to hide behind America’s broad back. Of course, the nascent republics that budded off of the USSR sought shelter with us from the beginning; they knew what monsters there be beyond their eastern borders. The French, the Germans, the Italians, even to some extent the British, blew the U.S. elitest raspberries: “The Cold War is over—take your bad manners and your stinky feet and your bloody hands and go home!” (Never mind that the mud on our boots was European mud; and the blood on our hands was our own, spilled in defense of those who now spit at us.)
Conservatives know this truth: Good doesn’t always carry the day, and evil is preternaturally resilient. (At least until God declares history well and truly over.) History is not a Hollywood drama, with the guys in the
white (oops, racist code) whatever-stands-for-good-now hats facing down the guys in the other-color hats and emerging bloody but victorious. We can’t sit back in our comfy velvet theater seats, just pretending to cover our eyes at the gore, because after all, the hero never dies! Remember the Alamo? The good guys lost. We can lose this one too. Edmund Burke had it right: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.” (Although Wikipedia says the provenance of that quote can’t be reliably determined.)
While the left both here and in the EU was noisily clamoring for America’s leash to be yanked, the real nasty guys got ready for war. And war it will be—post-modern or plain vanilla 20th century style. Robert Kagan has a tremendous piece in The Weekly Standard on-line today. Here’s a sample from one of the final paragraphs:
“The spread of democracy in the last two decades of the 20th century was not merely the unfolding of certain ineluctable processes of economic and political development. The global shift toward liberal democracy coincided with the historical shift in the balance of power toward those nations and peoples who favored the liberal democratic idea, a shift that began with the triumph of the democratic powers over fascism in World War II and that was followed by a second triumph of the democracies over communism in the Cold War. The liberal international order that emerged after these two victories reflected the new overwhelming global balance in favor of liberal forces. But those victories were not inevitable, and they need not be lasting. Today, the reemergence of the great autocratic powers, along with the reactionary forces of Islamic radicalism, has weakened that order and threatens to weaken it further in the years and decades to come.”
The words I quoted in a post from the July 4th holiday bear repeating: America is now the heart of the flame. That flame is nothing less than Western civilization. It encompasses (to name just a few ideas) the rule of law, peaceful transfer of power, respect for individual liberty and private property rights, democratic representation in government (or a representative republic works), and the ideas enshrined in our Bill of Rights. American exceptionalism is not an illusion; it may once again be the salvation of what is most honorable, most true—indeed, most God-like—in the story of human civilization.