Stupidity; and too much time on one’s hands…
Ann Althouse asks:
These are starkly opposed positions. What mental leaps are required to decide to believe one or the other? Is it perhaps possible to hold in one’s mind the possibility that either might be true or that both might be part true and to make careful case-by-case decisions as we go along?
Both Sharansky’s and Buchanan’s arguments ring true. Sharansky is correct that democracies, in general, are peaceful. Buchanan’s claim is also true: that the U.S presence in various parts of the world is a source of resentment, and that such resentment culminates in attacks on the U.S., both here and abroad. However, I don’t agree with the conclusions Buchanan draws from his assemblage of the facts.
Buchanan misses the point. Most of the “resentment” that’s being touted is just simply irrational, and that’s a very critical distinction that I never see anyone making. A bunch of religious zealots want us off their nation’s public property because we’re defiling their soil? Our culture is polluting their youth? Etc. I think there are surely reasonable cases to be made about the U.S. being too adventuresome or meddling, but the above examples, and ones like it, are not reasonable or rational in any context. To top it off, they redress these faux grievances through terrorism.
This leads to the real reason for doing what we’re doing. Regardless of how well this turns out, those numbskulls over there aren’t going to suddenly love America any more than most of us are going to start loving their stupid culture (yes, I think it’s debilitatingly stupid on just about every level I can imagine). Setting them up with a democracy and economic stability through some degree of free trade is going to change the way that they seek redress of their grievances—not to mention employ the losers who currently have far too much time on their hands. In a multi-party democracy and modern economy, those offended by the U.S. will then have political means by which to [futilely] air their grievances, just as we do here.