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How to Make Sure the Flight of the Intellectuals does not Become the Flight of the Conservatives

Posted on July 17 2010 11:00 am
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You identify four forces that should be educated about the very real threat posed by radical Islam, or  Islamofascism- or whatever term one chooses to call those who subscribe to its theories. The best place to start to learn about it is Jeffrey Herf’s important book, Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, and Paul Berman’s new book on the failure of American intellectuals to oppose the threat, The Flight of the Intellectuals. Together, these two books clearly identify the importance of understanding what we in the West face.

Those who move towards the paleo-conservative point of view either ignore or deny that such a threat exists, or believe that it is not a dire one, and that we can pursue a modern policy that comes close to appeasement.  Of the four you mention, I would omit Fox News. That is an entity in which contributors hold many different points of view; the effort should be made to get those who lean towards the Buchananite position to move in a different direction. They should be challenged by viewer e-mails with links to what they may learn from sources of which they may not be aware.

As for Sarah Palin, it is not as yet clear where she really stands on these issues, or just how much she comprehends about the nature of the threat. Clearly, her sentiments are in the right place, but she tends to endorse people on both sides of the issue, which indicates that she is not putting foreign policy concerns up front when making a decision. As for the Tea Party movement, it is a coalition, and as long as it sticks to domestic policy, this should not be a concern. The danger is that in seeking candidates to back, they may turn to someone like both Ron and Rand Paul out of agreement with their domestic position on debt and the deficit, again ignoring their foreign policy.

Glenn Beck, because of his admiration for Ron Paul, is clearly a man of influence who at times on his program, has indeed endorsed an isolationist position similar to that of Buchanan, and has even said he favors immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, without giving any indications of how and when this should be done. One would hope that people whom he listens to would seek to provide him with alternative arguments that he might pause to consider. Whether this is possible or not I have no idea.

As the nation comes to tire with the loss of American lives in Afghanistan, and with no clear strategy for “victory” and not enough troops to secure success for the McChrystal-Petraeus strategy of counterinsurgency, the possibility exists that a growing antiwar movement might take root, as it did as Vietnam dragged on. That would not only divide the nation, but potentially lead to continuing Democratic strength among the electorate, and drain the chances for Republican electoral success. For those reasons among others, it is important to raise the issue of foreign policy now, rather than later when it may be too late.


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