The Therapy Sessions
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Just carrying out the sentence
The Belmont Club:
Podhoretz lays out the themes of Bush's policy speeches side by side with their implementation and concludes the President has founded his strategy on four pillars.
The idea that Western civilization is worth fighting for in a contest with an ideology which aims to destroy it;
That regimes which abet this hostile ideology will be destroyed or reformed;
That America has the right not merely to respond, but to pre-empt enemy action;
That the Arab-Israeli issues will be judged by their contribution to the goal of creating democratic institutions in the Middle East, and not upon any grounds of historical entitlement.
Taken together, these pillars implied a revolution in international affairs, not simply because they overturned the institutional framework of the last half century, but because they introduced a normative standard into what was previously the absolute prerogative of nation-states. Woven through his account in ways that almost become a personal history are Podhoretz's recollections of how the Left, of which he was once an adherent, suborned, subverted and distorted -- at times almost fatally --the American response to each of the challenges it faced.
While schematically relegated to the background, the machinations of the Left in the World War IV article repeatedly threaten to upstage the notional villain, radical Islamism. By placing the War on Terror in serial with World War 2 and the Cold War (World War 3), the article makes it hard to wholly escape the notion that the West has been gripped by one auto-immune crisis after another, first against monsters of its own conjury (the Nazis and the Communists) and this time, against a parasitic infection spreading over its weakened corpus. Watered by the defeatism of Jimmy Carter and egged on by the Western "intelligensia", radical Islam appears less a malevolent force in its own right then the longed-for "exterminator" which will carry out the sentence of guilt which the Left has passed.