Putting Aside Pesticide Residue Levels And Climate Change
Will The City Of Light Be A Beacon For The West To Combat ISIS?
We Can Never Prosper If Our Civilization Crumbles
Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, November 16, 2015
We spend so much time and money working with produce trade associations, but every once and awhile something happens to remind us that these associations often don’t deal with the most important governmental decisions. Pesticide residue levels and similar things matter right up to the day something reminds us that there are bigger issues to be addressed.
Certainly the coordinated attacks in Paris – at least 129 dead and 352 injured – serve as such a reminder.
There is a real question as to whether President Obama is willing to accept the reality of the situation. The day before the attacks, the President recorded an interview with George Stephanopoulos, in which he claimed that we had “contained” ISIS:
Stephanopoulos asked Obama if ISIS was gaining in strength, to which Obama denied they were.
“I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” Obama responded. “What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them….”
This all follows on previous comments in which the President claimed that ISIS was a “JV team.” There is a real question about whether the President recognizes the seriousness of the situation.
The President’s official statement after the attack was poignant, but not true. The best piece written in the immediate aftermath of the attacks is by Mark Steyn and is called The Barbarians Are Inside, And There Are No Gates:
Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight's events as "an attack not just on Paris, it's an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share".
But that's not true, is it? He's right that it's an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world — an attack on one portion of "humanity" by those who claim to speak for another portion of "humanity".
And these are not "universal values" but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta "universal" when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those "universal values" are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.
The president of France said all the right things: “nous allons mener le combat, il sera impitoyable" — which translates as: We are going to wage a war that will be pitiless. But really, what is the likelihood?
The French have already announced that they are going to go ahead with the Climate Change conference scheduled for later this month. Of course, the correct thing to do would be to cancel the conference, not because security cannot be provided, but because if you are waging a “pitiless” war, that is what one must focus on, not as Steyn so aptly puts it, “talking about sea levels in the Maldives in the 22nd century? By which time France and Germany and Belgium and Austria and the Netherlands will have been long washed away.”
There are two basic issues:
The first is that the West is at war with a civilization; call them jihadists, medievalists, Islamic terrorists or what you will. And, secondly, wars are different than crimes. The President in his statement got what is required almost precisely wrong:
We’re going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice, and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people.
Finding the individuals who did this is not the point. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we did not say that we would hunt down the pilots, the navel crewmen and all those directly involved. In fact, we never tried to do anything of the sort. We attacked the ecosystem that trained, equipped and inspired those individuals.
The panoply of hashtags and sorrowful outcries is misdirected. Of course, we feel bad for the victims and their families, just as we felt bad for the American military members who were killed at Pearl Harbor, but our response was to address the attack on us as a collective.
Our leaders, though, are not serious. Hillary Clinton in the most recent debate said, “I also said that we should take increased numbers of refugees. The administration originally said 10,000. I said we should go to 65,000, but only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine, whatever resources it takes. I do not want us to in any way inadvertently allow people who wish us harm to come into our country.”
But it is self-evident that there is no possible way to run a “screening and vetting” process in Syria. It is not a serious response to the problem; it is asking for what cannot be.
Way back in 2009, we wrote a small piece for The Weekly Standard titled The Swiss Ban Minarets:
With word that the Swiss had unexpectedly voted to ban the construction of new minarets the predictable outcry against such "racism" has begun.
The Wall Street Journal, however, editorialized that the real problem is that the ban, which does not ban the building of new mosques, has no substantive effect on how Muslims are integrated into Swiss society.
The larger question, though, is whether a nation is any more than a geographic entity. If some Parisian Rip Van Winkle wakes up one distant morning and finds himself in a nation that speaks Arabic, where the people are Muslim, food is by law Halal and the government follows Sharia law, is that fellow still, in any meaningful sense, in France?
Is it simple racism for, say, the Dutch to want their nation to stay Dutch —not just in terms of geography — in terms of language, food, religion, government, architecture and all the things that make up a culture?
Switzerland is small, and whether minarets are built there is of little importance. The issue, though, is whether it is a legitimate aspiration of a people to want to maintain a nation as a home for a certain people.
This is the real question. Does the West have enough belief in its own civilization to defend it? Rob Lowe, of all people, got in trouble because he tweeted after the attacks when the President of France announced that France would close its borders:
Yet Lowe is right. What was happening was and is entirely predictable. And the “pitiless war” was supposedly declared on 9/11. France is dropping some bombs on jihadi training camps, but for Western civilization to win, we have to believe we are in the right, and we have to put aside hopeful wishes.
The West needs to be bolstered on everything from demography to allocating resources to defense, not welfare. Clearly the Schengen agreement, allowing open borders in Europe, cannot be operative.
And in the US, the Americans must elect a President who accepts reality. William Kristol explained the point:
During the Democratic debate Saturday night, Hillary Clinton said that ISIS "cannot be contained; it must be defeated." She also said, not once but twice, that this "cannot be an American fight" (while adding, "although American leadership is essential").
But the fact is that if ISIS is to be destroyed, it will be because America decides it is an American fight. Of course, we should enlist all the allies we can; there is no need to go it alone. But bromides about American leadership will no longer do the trick. If ISIS "must" be defeated, then we must be willing to take responsibility for defeating them.
Otherwise, we remain in what Churchill memorably called in 1936 an "era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients of delays."
Who is to be the Churchill of this generation?