Tim Oren points me at a well-written comment over at the Belmont Club that ties – indirectly – to Chester’s excellent post of the other day. On wretchard’s great post on Blowback, commenter Wanda says:
Going back to Geraghty’s comments and Wretchard’s followup, I think that if this shift in Western opinion is happening (and I think it is) much more than just the ports deal is dead. President Bush is in imminent danger of finding himself left behind by the American people, and he doesn’t seem to realize it. He could soon be in the same position as the leaders and spokesmen of the EU – a font of noble-sounding platitudes and maxims that nobody pays attention to anymore.
Meanwhile, he will have lost his ability to sway his own people’s hearts and minds, because he invested everything in the cause of winning the enemy’s hearts and minds. All the emphasis has been on persuading Muslims to change; how was it possible that nobody thought that WE might change too? That never entered into the calculations; it always seemed to be a given that the West would be eternally patient, open, and willing to woo the reluctant Muslim world. But while President Bush has been anxiously hovering over his delicate Islamic plant, watching for any promising little green shoot that might repay all his efforts, behind him his own garden has changed into a dangerous, bristling jungle. When he finally turns around, he won’t know where he is anymore.
Now, does this suggest that Tom, Trent, Charles Johnson and the LGF community are bellweathers for a future national majority? Can we expect antimuslim rants on Kos and MyDD?
Maybe not so soon.
Let me suggest a likely outcome, based on a humble metaphor. Food. Specifically, my favorite food, BBQ.Here in Los Angeles, we periodically get upscale BBQ restaurants in fashionable locations – The Pig on La Brea is an example – But I tend to look down on the food in places like that (because it usually sucks) and prefer places like Phillip’s, Woody’s, and The Pit.
I’ve got an eclectic group of friends, but one core group who live on the Westside (yes, they’re all far wealthier and more successful than I am but I love them anyway), and we wander around and do friend-type things that often involve food or culture. Many of them are stereotypical, LAWeekly-liberal in their politics; they have a kind of reflexive progressivism. On matters of race policy, they’re probably more progressive than even I am.
But none of them will come to South–Central with me to get BBQ.
And I can watch them go on alert like pointers when we’re walking in Santa Monica and they see a group of two or three fashionably-thugged out black kids.
Their kids go to private schools, rather than the racially mixed schools of Venice or Santa Monica.
So for them, progressive, egalitarian views are great – at arm’s length. Imagine if you would a Michael Moore who lives in an exclusive co-op, and sends his children to private school – wait a minute, he does.
This isn’t about dissing their views; because I don’t (another post on that soon), I understand them. But it is a model to consider as we talk about the notion that a sea-change in “the Western Street” could take place which involves a fundamental belief that we can’t deal with the Arab world, and that what we need to do is to disengage fast and hard.
In essence, it’d be a position that said “we’re washing our hands of you”, bulked up border and internal security, and made it a point never to drive through ‘those neighborhoods’ without locking the doors, and never, under any circumstances, to stop there. It solves that whole messy “war” thing, and makes sure that no one says bad things about us in our hearing. We’d be clean-handed liberals, and feel secure.
And it would be a disaster.
It would first and foremost be a moral disaster, because we’d be condemning billions of people to a battle with a homicidal tyranny that we had a hand in creating (indirectly, through our policies in the Middle east from the 1900’s onward). We’d be condemning Israel to become even more of a besieged outpost than it is today. We’d be condemning Europeans to a bitter struggle with an increasingly empowered minority.
And while we’d have told them all ‘not our problem’ – to quote Atrios:
Certainly an Iran-with-nukes could blow the hell out of a city or two, but an Iran that did such a thing would pretty much cease to exist. It isn’t mutually assured destruction, it’s you fuck with us a little bit and YOU NO LONGER LIVE BITCHES!
Not our problem, because we’d hide behind our wall of nukes.
And it’d be a practical disaster.
It’d be a practical disaster, because the war within the Muslim world would wind up being won by either brutal oligarchs or by homicidal fascists. If the oligarchs win, we’ll have trading partners, for a while, until they need an outside enemy to whip up their population against. If the fascists win, we’ll have a war right away.
Now Atrios may he happy with bombing the Arab world into oblivion. But I’d really like to avoid that if I can.
The last person to propose anything like this in detail was Jim Henley. My response to him pretty much sums up my response to this whole idea:
Maybe I’m just too tired right now; it’s been a heckuva week, on many fronts. But when I was pointed to Jim Henley’s Grand Plan, I just lost the capacity for reasonable thought; it was so dumb, such a dorm-room, bong-hit driven idea of how the world ought to be that I almost left it alone. Then I got a link to it from a non-blog person, and realized that I had to Go Back In There and wrestle with it.
Because for many of the folks on my team – the left – this is what foreign policy ought to look like, and in a big way my fear is that this could become something actually thinkable. And I’m not sure if I’m more scared that Trent’s vision of the world or this one will come to pass. Actually, it’s because I believe that this one leads, almost inevitably, to Trent’s.
It’s a fantasy that we can all move to a gated community and leave our troubles behind. If nothing else, what would we do for good BBQ?