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Chappies on the Road to the Middle Class Driving Miss Hillary

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Iraq Election: A Teachable Moment?

by Christopher Chantrill
January 30, 2005 at 9:31 am


TODAY THE Iraq election is over and Senator John Kerry is wisely advising that:

No one in the United States should try to over-hype this election... This election is a sort of demarcation point, and what really counts now is the effort to have a legitimate political reconciliation that is going to take a massive diplomatic effort and a much more significant outreach to the international community than this administration has been willing to engage in.

Quite right, Senator. I couldn’t agree more. To translate from Mandarin into English: the election was a stunning success and we elite Bush-haters are going to have to mount a massive international operation to make sure that Bush doesn’t get the credit.

On Democratic Underground they are wailing: “Where are the freedom fighters today?” But the Iraq The Model chappies speak of “tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.”

Then there’s this quote from a Sunni voter in Falluja: “We want to be like other Iraqis, we donĀ“t want to always be in opposition.” Translation: We quit.

The real danger of the Iraq election is that it might turn out to be a great teachable moment—for liberals, of course. They might get it, at long last. But, given the reaction of the quintessential Sixties liberal, Senator Kerry, and the lefties at Democratic Underground it looks as though the moment will pass. This is good for conservatives and other Americans.

The teachable lesson from Iraq is that this isn’t a very nice world. It’s a world full of conflict and killing in which there is often no option but grinding it out on the ground. War is the norm, and peace is the pause that refreshes. But in our modern era, it is easy to lose sight of this. Back in the good old days of wise aboriginal tribes that were close to nature about 40 percent of men died from violent conflict. But in the twentieth century, an era we like to imagine as the very abyss of violence and war, only five percent of men died from violent conflict.

Our modern American elite has lived a life peculiarly free from conflict. Its defining moment of conflict was opposing the Vietnam War. But its battle was never a real war. Anti-war activists were cosseted and encouraged by their liberal parents and the liberal media and indulgently made into heroes for striking a few elegant poses. Then they bravely took up arms against their liberal professors who were quite happy to cave in and grant all their demands without even the pretence of a fight. In consequence, our liberal elites imagine that everything can be decided with a telegenic demonstration and a TV-friendly spokesperson, or failing that, diplomacy and a peace process.

You can tell that liberals don’t have a clue about conflict by listening to their commentary on the war on terror. They are easily discouraged, and make every setback into a frightening quagmire. But any student of war knows that every conflict is a confusing and demoralizing grind that often seems to be an exercise in futility.

Liberals are also woefully ignorant about strategy. Three years after 9/11 they are still unable to penetrate the transparent strategic moves made by the Bush administration: disengaging from Saudi Arabia, backhanding Arafat, transforming Afghanistan, and occupying the strategic hinge of the Middle East along the Mesopotamian rivers.

Liberals are ignorant of all these things because they have had everything so easy. Conservatives have learned the arts of conflict because they have had to. Starting from nothing in 1950 they have built first a cadre, then a movement, and finally a political majority, step by step, with plenty of setbacks along the way.

Liberals should be paying attention as President Bush conducts his seminar in global strategic conflict. They could be taking notes. They are going to have to learn the arts of war sooner or later as they struggle back from defeat and humiliation, for that is what is in store for them in the years ahead as the American people reject the rule of the liberal experts that has oppressed them for the last century. But it looks like they aren’t ready to pay attention yet.

This is good, because we conservatives have a lot to do. What we want, above all, is to build a self-governing America in which ordinary people get to make decisions about their lives without having to get permission from the ever-interfering liberal. We want to court our brides and get married without liberals muddying up the idea of marriage; we want to raise and educate our children without twelve years of marinating in liberal schools. And we want to deal with our doctors without liberal interference. You could encapsulate all this into a bumper sticker slogan: Smash the Liberal Veto. But that might hurt liberal self-esteem.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990

Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures

German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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