Victor Davis Hanson has a really long piece about "The Wages of Appeasement", and even though it's too long for me to focus on, there are some real gems.
In the face of such visceral anti-Americanism, the problem may not be real differences over the West Bank, much less that "we are not getting the message out"; rather, in the decade since 1991 the Middle East saw us as a great power that neither could nor would use its strength to advance its ideas--that lacked even the intellectual confidence to argue for our civilization before the likes of a tenth-century monarchy. The autocratic Arab world neither respects nor fears a democratic United States, because it rightly senses that we often talk in principled terms but rarely are willing to invest the time, blood and treasure to match such rhetoric with concrete action. That's why it is crucial for us to stay in Iraq to finish the reconstruction and cement the achievement of our three-week victory over Saddam.As Sun Tzu said millenia ago, the best way to win is to convince your enemy not to fight. The best way to convince your enemy not to fight is to demonstrate that the results of fighting will be disasterous for them. And that means sometimes you have to fight, just to prove the point.
Further, as VDH points out, many Americans just don't realize how good we've got it. Many Americans don't have the intellectual confidence to argue that the United States is the greatest nation that has ever existed on the face of the earth. They waffle, yes, but..., and it's true, America isn't a perfect country. But there's a reason everyone in the world wants to come live here. We're wealthier and more free than any place else, bar none, and it's no accident.
Capitalism and liberal democracy work. It's not a crime against multiculturalism to say that the Middle East would be better off without madrassas, female circumcision, and Islamofacism -- it's just a fact. Similarly, those on the left who pine for disappearing cultures should ask themselves why the cultures are disappearing. Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, has some thoughts on the matter.
Reason: Environmental activists often oppose road building. They say such roads will lead to the destruction of the rain forests or other wildernesses. What would you say to them?Once people from backwards cultures are exposed to modern life, they don't want to keep living in the wilderness. I don't blame them. Being a tribal nomad would suck. Everyone knows that, including members of the cultures the left wants to "preserve" (by denying poor people the opportunity to leave). It's not at all unreasonable to say that American culture is simply better than the rest. Just look at the evidence.
Borlaug: These extremists who are living in great affluence...are saying that poor people shouldn't have roads. I would like to see them not just go out in the bush backpacking for a week but be forced to spend the rest of their lives out there and have their children raised out there. Let's see whether they'd have the same point of view then.
I should point out that I was originally trained as a forester. I worked for the U.S. Forest Service, and during one of my assignments I was reputed to be the most isolated member of the Forest Service, back in the middle fork of the Salmon River, the biggest primitive area in the southern 48 states. I like the back country, wildlife and all of that, but it's wrong to force poor people to live that way.
I think the primary cause of past American appeasement was moral ignorance. We look at other cultures as museum pieces, all equally valuable just because they're different. But these primitive, barbaric cultures oppress real people, just like you and me, who don't deserve to be refused entrance to modernity just because we (and the elite of a given culture, who profit off the misery of others) want to preserve their culture as a curiousity.
Plus, as VDH notes, we were fat, happy, and invulnerable -- or so we thought.