Kemalization and other strategies

Must reading is Hugh Fitzgerald’s Reflections on Bernard Lewis, at JihadWatch. Fitzgerald shows how Lewis has always gotten Islam wrong, ignoring or downplaying the dreadful realities of jihad, sharia, and dhimmitude, and basing his hopeful and genial views of Islam on his friendships with secular Turkish elites who are, Fitzgerald says, as representative of the Moslem world as Stravinsky was of Stalinist Russia. Believing Islam to be reformable, Lewis strongly supported the disastrous Oslo process as well as the democratization of Iraq (a policy in which he encouraged President Bush). The correct approach, says Fitzgerald, is not democratization, since that would only unleash the Islamist forces of Islamic countries, but Kemalization. Unlike Lewis, unlike Bush, and unlike the neoconservatives, Kemal Ataturk recognized that Islam itself is the problem, that Islam is unreformable, and therefore that the solution is not to reform Islam, but to constrain it.

Furthermore, to be successful, says Fitzgerald, such Kemal-type leadership must come from within the Islamic world, not be imposed on it from without. The most the West can do is to create “end-of-their-tether conditions” in which Moslems themselves recognize the utter hopelessness of Islam, thus triggering the emergence of Kemal-type leaders who will de-Islamicize their countries. The practical question (not addressed by Fitzgerald) then becomes: what are those end-of-their-tether conditions, and what can we do to bring them about?

In the past I have noted four general strategic possibilities for addressing the Moslem menace, and said we should consider reasonable arguments supporting any of them. They are:

  1. Democratize and modernize the Moslem world;

  2. Crush and demoralize the Moslem world;

  3. Isolate and put a cordon sanitaire around the Moslem world;

  4. Police the Moslem world, that is, put a permanent military base somewhere in the Mideast (Kurdistan perhaps?) from which we could deter the emergence of Islamic regimes or terrorist forces dangerous to ourselves without getting directly involved in the internal affairs of the Moslem countries.

Now, option four, to police the Moslem world from a permanent base, could conceivably combine elements of options 1, 2 and 3. The fifth option, to Kemalize the Moslem world—or rather to create conditions of such hopelessness in the Moslem world that Kemalization from within becomes a possibility—may conceivably draw on elements of options 2, 3, and 4. It would seem to preclude option 1, democratization. So, by this logic, the thing we happen to be theologically committed to at the moment is the one thing we should not be doing.

(Note: while I read a printed version of Fitzgerald’s article that someone had formatted and put in an e-mail, in its online version it is published not as an article but, strangely enough, as an immensely long comment at a blog discussion. Go to the linked page and look for the comment that begins, “Bernard Lewis is an acute scholar about many aspects of Islam.”)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 19, 2004 08:13 PM | Send


Imagine what the area’s Armenians and Kurds will say when they learn their new rulers are to be Kemal jockeys.

Posted by: Reg Cæsar on June 20, 2004 12:26 AM

The Kurds are not Kemalists. In fact, they despise nationalist Turks.
Muslims as a whole are not ready for democracy, but various groups are.
For instance, the Iranians may well be on the verge of a revolution that will bring democracy.
I am sad to say that Turkey is not that well off. They elected an Islamist partyand are becoming increasingly hostile to America.
Democracy cannot be imposed by America or by an officer corps.
Only nationalism, a rising middle class, and educated women can break Islamism.

Posted by: RonL on June 20, 2004 1:59 AM

Not that he didn’t before (and he did), but Mr. Auster has been opening my eyes of late to some indredible writers, scholars and their sites, and is one of them. Hugh Fitzgerald is amazing—what a marvelous writer! I also like Ali Dashti’s replies. Great writing and done with flair and just the right amount of sarcasm. His knowledge of the Middle East, Mr. Lewis and in particular, Turkey is impressive. And I thought Turkey was our friend…

Of particular concern is the notion—now an obvious fact to me—that America continues to be “asleep” and the fact that our leaders are too afraid of “calling a spade, a spade” and (are afraid of) acting on it. By this I mean, “asleep” when it comes to Islam and “jihad” in particular.

I believe all the more that ANWAR needs to be opened to oil exploration so that we can begin to be less dependent on Saudi oil. Beyond that, I see no other remedy but to pressure the Saudis to get their house in order (go after all jihadists in the Kingdom)—or they lose their kingdom and we take over their oil. Naturally, we would need a larger military for such a venture and that in itself would pose many problems. Saudi Arabia is the source for most of the funding of terrorism. How long can the U.S. sit idly by and let Wahabbism run rampant there and pretend that these people are “our well-educated friends who speak out language so well”?

Anyway, I want to again thank Mr. Auster for introducing Mr. Fitzgerald and to me.

Posted by: David Levin on June 20, 2004 5:43 AM

It’s not clear what Ron’s point is.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 20, 2004 5:51 AM

By coincidence I just came upon a blog entry from last October in which I make the same point about Islam that, according to Hugh Fitzgerald, Kemal Ataturk made: that the problem is not “radical” Islam, the problem is Islam itself.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 20, 2004 6:00 AM

A correspondent writes:

“Kemal was brutal.”

To which I replied:

“I guess your point is, the sheer unlikelihood that anything WE do could lead to conditions that would give rise to another Ataturk. A leader with the vision and the will of an Ataturk cannot be manufactured, he is a rare occurrence. But then, if there is no Ataturk on the horizon to render Islam harmless by constraining it, then WE must do the job. And that would have to be through some combination of crushing and demoralizing Islam, isolating it, and policing it.”

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 20, 2004 6:24 AM

Many of the Arabs have already tried their version of “Kemalization”. That’s what men like Nasser, Assad, Saddam and the Algerian leadership wanted to be - Kemalists. It was a dismal failure.
For more on Bernard Lewis, read this article by Derek Copold where he skewers Lewis.

Posted by: bartelson on June 20, 2004 6:33 AM

By the way, what happened to President Bush’s “forward strategy for democracy” in the Mideast? We’re currently in the act of surrendering all control over the politics of Iraq. So how is that a forward strategy for democracy? And how are we advancing this forward strategy for democracy in any other Moslem country?

The gap between Bush’s hugely arrogant, ambitious, and utopian policy pronouncements and his actual behavior reveals an empty presidency. Yet neither his foes nor his friendly critics ever seem to point it out.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 20, 2004 6:41 AM

i would reject the idea that the secular Arab nationalist tyrants of the Nasser, Saddam Hussein and other stripes ever really imitated Kemal Ataturk. Their dreams of revanche, military conquest, devotion to statist economic ideas, blaming all the faults of the Arab world on “furriners” and hostility to the West and readiness to ally themselves with the Soviets were all things Ataturk either rejected from the first or quickly dropped when he realized they did not work.

Posted by: Alan Levine on June 20, 2004 12:20 PM

I will have to consider the critiques of Bernard Lewis’ works more carefully before reaching a final conclusion. However, the Fitzgerald and Copold articles seem to me to make Lewis sound friendlier to Islam than he really is. Lewis’s “Muslim Discovery of Europe” makes the Muslims sound like a lot of bigoted dopes, and his history of modern Turkey is not at all favorable to the pre-Ataturk regime.

Posted by: Alan Levine on June 20, 2004 12:26 PM

By the way, I realize there is a certain ambiguity in the term cordon sanitaire. Here is the definition provided by the invaluable WordWeb dictionary:

1. disease-controlling barrier: a barrier erected to control the spread of a disease by restricting movement to and from the infected area

2. area separating warring nations: a neutral state, or a string of neutral states, lying between two states that are hostile to each other

[Mid-19th century. From French, literally “sanitary line.”]


So the question is, when used in a political sense, does cordon sanitaire necessarily mean a string of neutral states separating two warring states, or (closer to its original medical meaning) could it also mean a simple barrier against an enemy state?

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 20, 2004 12:40 PM

“I am sad to say that Turkey is not that well off. They elected an Islamist partyand are becoming increasingly hostile to America. Democracy cannot be imposed by America or by an officer corps. Only nationalism, a rising middle class, and educated women can break Islamism.” — RonL

Was this not really the goal of Kemalism in the first place? Despite its shaky success in Turkey, this secular movement appears to lack the roots of Islam and is now apparently in retreat. The underlying Islamic culture is now re-asserting itself there. I also think Mr. Levine makes a good case that Baathism has only a superficial resemblance to Kemalism. In the Baathist countries (Egypt under Nasser, Syria and Iraq), Arab nationalism was mixed with Socialism and a Stalinist-like cult of personality, while the underlying Islamic culture reamined largely intact.

Posted by: Carl on June 20, 2004 3:04 PM

Re: Cordon Sanitaire Against the Moslem………..While our political leaders keep saying that offense is the best defense; who has said the truth on this point: that defense is the best offense. The moslem, sealed off in his own circle of failure, will just languish and fail. Yet if he is allowed to come closer to people who are having some success, his envy and rage permits damage to be done. Allow my people to share, he cries. Yet that is a confession also.

Posted by: John S Bolton on June 20, 2004 9:19 PM

Right on, Mr. Bolton. It’s never been said so succinctly. Our present policy is almost all offense (i.e., our “forward strategy for freedom,” as Bush calls it), and virtually no defense (i.e., containing the Moslems in their own lands, and keeping them out of our land).

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 20, 2004 9:46 PM

I’m flattered to see myself cited here. Let me respond to Mr. Levine’s point. He is correct to notice some differences between the Turkish and Arab experiences. However, these differences were mostly due to external circumstances; Kemal didn’t align with the Soviet Union or attempt any conquests because he was bordered on the south by the British and French, who then ruled the Levant, and on the north by the Soviet Union. The only weak country he bordered was Greece, and he had no compunction about taking as much territory as he could wrest after driving them back from Ankara.

Kemal also didn’t try socialism (at least not full blown socialism), as it hadn’t become fashionable, as it did after World War II, when the Arabs bought into it and other bad Western trends. Indeed, the only thing that really kept Turkey from falling into the Soviet orbit was our intervention.

As for bloody-mindedness and terror, Ataturk certainly didn’t lack, something the Aegean Greeks, Armenians and Kurds can attest to.

Beyond these things, you can still find the same basic core: a nationalist message centered on a charismatic strongman. Many of the statues of Hussein you saw pulled down last year look eerily similar to many of Ataturk you can still see in Turkey. Both Ba’athists and Kemalists strove to suppress public expression of religion, and both maintained a strong central state with a powerful military acting as secular check.

In the long, the cordon sanitaire is the only viable option the West has. We simply do not have the will to impose our way of life on the whole of Islam. Even keeping a base in Kurdistan is a dicey proposition, as we’d be dependent on Turkish goodwill to keep it supplied.

Posted by: Derek Copold on June 21, 2004 6:54 PM

I apologize. I didn’t really develop my point fully in the first paragraph. An alignment with Soviet Union would have alienated France and Great Britain, perhaps prompting them to support the Greeks with more gusto, so he wisely steered a middle course.

Posted by: Derek Copold on June 21, 2004 7:01 PM

I too believe a cordon sanitaire of the Dar al-Islam, including ending - nay, reversing - the flow of Moslems into the West is the only way to control the West’s Moslem problem. Turkey, however, poses an unusual dilemma. Practically speaking, the West (Israel also) needs to keep some alliance of expedience with Turkey, if only to help contain the Arabs and Persians. At the same time, the West cannot allow Turkey to become an unrestricted conduit for emigration out of the Middle East into Europe. At this critical juncture, however, enlightened opinion in Europe favors admitting alien Turkey into the diabolical European Union. A faster way to the ethnic and religious suicide of Europe is difficult to conceive. How to mollify the horrible Turk while insulting him by refusing him entry into the European club, which at the moment he has every reason to expect he will gain? HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on June 21, 2004 7:05 PM

I would very much like to see Mr. Copold or Hugh Fitzgerald (whom I have written to) lay out steps by which this sanitary isolation of the Moslem world could be achieved. Since immediately after 9/11, my view was that we had to defeat our immediate enemies, but that our longer range strategy should be to announce that we are not a multicultural society, that we regard the world of Islam as totally incompatible with us, and that we want, as much as is possible, mutual disengagement between the West and Islam. Then the Iraq war intervened and it was necessary to deal with that. For some time, I’ve been listing my three or four or five options on how to deal with Islam, but haven’t gotten anywhere with it. But Fitzgerald’s article, with its description of Kemalism as the constraining of Islam, not the reform of Islam, re-sparked my interest in my own, preferred, “isolate the Islamic world” strategy.”

One major question that arises is this: The cordon sanitaire is only external to the Moslem world, keeping them away from us. Kemalism means the de-Islamizing of the Moslem world from within. How would Kemalism interact with the cordon sanitaire? Or is the latter enough?

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 21, 2004 7:22 PM

The Iraq War did not just “intervene” as if it were some cosmic event out of our hands. We chose to invade the country, and we can choose to leave. In fact, we’re probably going to be thrown out soon enough.

The best thing we can do is withdraw from Iraq, after declaring victory and turning the keys over to some halfwit, who’ll no doubt wind up collecting flies in Firduz square. Once that’s done, we need to get ourselves disengaged from the area and its conflicts. If Saudi Arabia falls, that’s their problem. If they want to stick burkahs on their women and live in a pesthole, I really don’t care. If they increase the price of oil, well, we best get to work coming up with an alternative or making do.

From our end, we can shut off immigration, and bar all radical Islamic countries’ citizens from coming in (excepting perhaps diplomats). Europe should do the same thing, but they have to do it for themselves. Those non-citizens still here should be shown the door, and those Muslims who are citizens should be viewed socially as being on the same rung as Moonies, Hare Krishna and other dubious cults.

Now for the big problem: Israel. The Israelis need to be made aware that ultimately their country is theirs to defend. They cannot count on us to provide them aid forever. This is a fact of life, not an opinion. So it’s best for both parties if we phase out our aid over a period of time. Yes, it’ll hurt them in the short run, but in the long run they’ll be better off and so will we. We won’t be identified with their activity, so they can do what they want with their neighbors. And as they won’t be getting a huge subsidy, they’ll have motive enough to reform their government. (Needless to say, cutting off aid goes double for other countries like Egypt.)

As for imposing Kemalism, I am not interested in imposing anything. I don’t care what the barbarians do as long as they foul their own nest. The key is to keep them out of here. It’s a difficult task, but it’s a lot easier than trying to control them over there, where they have every advantage. Of course, if they slip through, there are retaliatory options.

If certain countries reform and show they want to be civilized, well, we can make exceptions. No foreign policy should be utterly inflexible. After all, we dealt with the Red Chinese and Yugoslavians when it was in our interest. The same can be done with well behaved Mohammedans.

Posted by: Derek Copold on June 21, 2004 8:47 PM

Mr. Copold’s strategy is basically similar to my preferred approach, though, as I’ve said, it’s one option I think about along with others. But in order for this to work, it seems to me that all non-Moslem nations would have to cooperate in it. They would all have to work together in keeping out Moslems and sending many of them back home.

On another point, at the end of his article on Lewis, Mr. Copold calls Huntington and Lewis the godfathers of the Iraq war. That’s not at all true with regard to Huntington. His whole idea in Clash of Civilizations is that the West is distinct, and that it doesn’t seek to make the whole world like itself. This is the opposite of the neocon/Bush view. In fact, when Clash was published, the Weekly Standard derided it as “multiculturalist.” For the neocons, the only alternative to One World is multiculturalism.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 21, 2004 9:31 PM

I don’t think we should abandon the Jewish people in Israel, though I don’t know the extent of what our commitment should be. Israelis are justified in their desire for a country no less than we white Christians are, even if their liberal elites (and maybe majority) might think such an idea evil. If they did not believe in identity, they would not exist today. Moreover, Israel is a Western country in conflict with a murderous, evil Muslim ideology, and we are in conflict with the same ideology. Israel is a powerful, geographically strategic country capable of being a powerful ally in such a conflict. We should encourage immigration of conservative Jewish people from Israel; I don’t know why God made Jewish people so uncommonly gifted, but their gifts are further reason for a welcome.

If the Jewish immigrants would want to maintain their own culture (and race?), who am I to object as long as they don’t intend to destroy or to dominate mine?

Who isn’t unsure about how to sort out the conflict with the Palestinians? I am unsure mainly because Israelis don’t seem willing to reproduce sufficiently. This does not mean we should throw up our hands; white Christian-Americans might as well do the same.

Posted by: P Murgos on June 21, 2004 11:30 PM


In fairness, I don’t think Huntington is an intentional godfather of neocon interventionism. However, his thought has been used as an intellectual prop.

P. Murgos,

Stopping government subsidies does not equal abandonment. Free money is always harmful in the long run. Cutting aid, of course, doesn’t mean we won’t sell and trade with them, or, in case of dire emergency advance them some help. However, they need to understand that ultimately they, and only they, can sustain their country. As long as we provide free money they’ll avoid making the tough internal choices necessary to survive.

Posted by: Derek Copold on June 22, 2004 9:35 AM

I think Derek Copold’s suggestions about how to deal with Moslem lands, Israel and America’s profligate aid to both are about right. Combine the cordon sanitaire with as little engagement as we can get away with. At the moment, the Western nations lack the guts to do as Mr. Copold suggests, although it is self-evidently in our long and short term best interests. I cannot tell what would make Americans and Europeans wake up about this - maybe another, and worse, September 11th. I suspect al-Qaeda’s leaders can think these things through as well as we; maybe that is why there has not been another September 11th. We have been missing the point ever since: why risk our waking up now, when Christendom is falling into their hands like an overripe pomegranate? Haven’t we, in the long run, done the jihadists a service by removing a corrupt secular Ba’athist dictator whom they despised and unleashing the sort of confusion in which jihadists flourish, just as we did them a service by making Bosnia and Kosovo safe for militant Islam?

As for Israel, I can remember reading Benjamin Netanyahu, before he became Prime Minister, on the subject of how excessive dependence on American aid hurts Israel economically and militarily. Back then, he wanted to wean his country. He was right, and so is Mr. Copold.

I am confused by P Murgos’ post. He seems to say that the United States should both defend the Jewish people in Israel and solicit Jewish immigrants from Israel, which rather undercuts the idea of Israel as the Jews’ rightful homeland. He also describes Israel as a Western nation. While Israel has many Western features, the common element in all modern Western nations is a Christian foundation. By that criterion alone, Israel is distinct from the nations of the West. Also, a Western nation that attempted Israel’s unblushing religious and ethnic preference for one race would be an utter pariah. Remember the opprobrium directed at South Africa and Rhodesia? (As it is, unfairly, Israel is something of a pariah.)

As for encouraging immigration of Israeli Jews, America should actively discourage immigration of anybody, with very rare and individual exceptions. I hope I will not be slandered as an anti-Semite if I question the wisdom of encouraging more Jewish immigration to the United States. As I have said elsewhere on this site, Jewish immigrants of the Great Wave and their descendants bear a disproportionate responsibility for injecting the destructive and acrimonious politics of the hard Left into American society. As Mr. Auster and others have pointed out, the Jewish role in foisting mass immigration on America has also been grossly disproportionate and almost wholly destructive. The current importation of what is politely called the Russian mafia is actually largely Jewish, and even more vicious and efficient than the Italian varieties that have already afflicted America for over a century. The United States is, or used to be, a Christian nation. Jewish groups have been more active than anyone else in attacking that Christian character, or at least prohibiting public manifestation of it, with extraordinary success. In all these things, Jews have not been the only actors, but they have been persistent, disproportionately influential, very successful and, from my point of view anyway, almost always wrong.

Mr. Murgos asks why he should object if Jewish immigrants choose to maintain their culture and race as long as they don’t intend to destroy or dominate his. Leave aside the waiver of assimilation that he seems to offer, something I doubt he would countenance for Mexicans or Moslems. There is, unfortunately, abundant evidence that the Jewish groups that have become so powerful in America (ADL, AJC, ACLU) do seek to destroy mainstream American culture in an illusory pursuit of ethnic security in a multi-culture stripped of a dominant majority. I believe their efforts have done America far more harm than good. Mr. Auster’s latest at FPM reviews the history.

I agree with Mr. Murgos that God has granted Jews, on average, extraordinary intellectual gifts. As he does not seem to have granted them, on average, political and social common sense to accompany those gifts, however, I must disagree with Mr. Murgos and decline to make an exception to my no-immigration stance for Israeli Jews, who provide quite a few of America’s myriad illegal aliens anyway. If Jewish Israelis were being driven into the sea by murdering Moslems, as I pray will never happen, I would of course reconsider. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on June 22, 2004 10:26 AM

Is there any other place in the country where serious patriotic men can come together (in a manner of speaking) and argue in candor about the increasingly-dire future of their nation? VFR is singular, I think.

Yet it is a sad comment on the state of our public conversation that such candor as this cannot hardly be spoken freely. Free speech is nearly dead when Americans speak as patriots.

Fr. J. C. Murray describes a political community as a people locked in debate about themselves and how they should be organized for action in history. Does this definition even apply to us anymore?

Posted by: Paul Cella on June 22, 2004 12:54 PM

In reply to Mr. Copold: Two of the few mistakes Ataturk did make was to try alliance with the Soviets and duplicate some Soviet economic policies; he quickly learned he was wrong. As for abandoning the Middle East: the fact is that the West and Japan are dependent on oil from that area and we cannot disinterest ourselves from it, at least for the forseeable future. Mr. Murgos has made as good a case for continued alliance with Israel as I could, but I do not see that that bears on the question of immigration from Israel. I do not wish to get into an argument with Mr. Sutherland, but his view of Jewish immigration seems to me even more exaggerated on the other side! Obviously, I am prejudiced! My own inclination is to feel that no immigration should be the ideal, from anywhere. But what happens if disasters develop in Western Europe,and many people wished to flee here? Amend that… since those disasters seem inevitable.

Posted by: Alan Levine on June 22, 2004 5:39 PM

Mr. Levine and I don’t need to argue. We agree that no immigration should be the ideal, from anywhere. If murderous Moslems were driving Christian Europeans into the sea, I too would reconsider my no-immigration stance for them, just as I would for Israelis in the same fix. By the time that happened, of course, the Moslem caucus in the Congress, with its allies in the black and hispanic caucuses, would likely have enough power to exclude emigrating white infidels. If we don’t wake up long before that happens, we won’t be waking up at all.

The question of how Jewish immigration has changed the United States is fascinating, if radioactive. The paradox I see is that while Jews have for the most part assimilated extremely successfully to America they have also contributed enormously to disrupting American society. I don’t pretend to know why the Jewish experience in America has been so singular, but it stands out as something quite distinct among the assorted strains of immigration to the United States. I don’t think anyone can seriously question that, man-for-man, Jews have been America’s most influential immigrants. As I said above, I think it has been a mixed blessing.

It is true that the West and Japan are far too reliant on the Middle East’s oil. We need to wean ourselves from it, both by finding other sources in safer parts of the world (Alaska will do for a start) and by changing our habits to use less of the stuff. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on June 22, 2004 6:04 PM

Mr. Levine,

I’ll accept your correction concerning Ataturk, but it still doesn’t much change the fact that Nasser and other Arab Secularists generally followed the Ataturk model, whose success is still in doubt.

As for the oil in the Middle East, adjusting won’t be easy, but it can be done. Sooner or later, we’re going to have to do it. We’d best start while there’s still enough capacity in the market to make the glide easier. At any rate, I don’t see any reason for us to commit troops alone.

Posted by: Derek Copold on June 22, 2004 6:36 PM

It’s true, the best strategy is to disengage from the Muslim World. This would be a multi-pronged strategy, of course. We must recognize Islam for what it is. We need to stop propping up these regimes (such as the House of Saud). We need to stop importing Muslims into the West. And we need to wean ourselves away Middle Eastern oil.

Posted by: Allan Wall on June 22, 2004 8:48 PM

Then energy independence is clearly a crux of any civilizational disengagement strategy. Maybe Mr. LeFevre has some suggestions on this. I think he’s made some before, but now, at least for me, there’s more of a context to take in a subject that I frankly haven’t paid much attention to before.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 22, 2004 8:55 PM

Given the challenges we face, it occurs to me that this is a time for some young traditionalist conservatives to go into international relations, strategic studies, and so on.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 22, 2004 8:59 PM

In response to Mr. Cella’s fine comment of 12:54 p.m., that is what we’re trying, in our limited way, to engage in here—politics, the discussion of the good of society. Politics generally doesn’t exist anymore. It has, as Jim Kalb would say, been abolished. It only exists—more as an attempt than an actuality—in little forums and corners like this. But in this way we try to keep the flame alive.

By the way, is Mr. Cella sure that John Courtney Murray used the Voegelinian term “organized for action in history”? As far as I know, that comes from Voegelin’s New Science of Politics, published in 1952. Murray’s “We Hold These Truths” was published in (I believe) 1960, so it would make sense. However, I think of Murray as a proto neocon, so I wouldn’t have expected him to use Voegelinian concepts.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 22, 2004 9:09 PM

“Then energy independence is clearly a crux of any civilizational disengagement strategy.”
Definitely ! And we need to get to work on it, because it won’t happen overnight.
I would prefer to buy more oil from Mexico, but the dysfunctional Mexican oil monopoly PEMEX makes that difficult (see ).
The long-term solution is the commercialization of alternative energy forms. I just can’t believe that in the land of Thomas Edison and Bill Gates , that it’s impossible.

Posted by: Allan Wall on June 22, 2004 9:13 PM

My apologies, the link above is

Posted by: Allan Wall on June 22, 2004 9:17 PM

Couple posters mentioned an aid Israel gets from US and how large it is.


“The Israelis need to be made aware that ultimately their country is theirs to defend. They cannot count on us to provide them aid forever. This is a fact of life, not an opinion. So it’s best for both parties if we phase out our aid over a period of time. Yes, it’ll hurt them in the short run, but in the long run they’ll be better off and so will we. We won’t be identified with their activity, so they can do what they want with their neighbors. And as they won’t be getting a huge subsidy, they’ll have motive enough to reform their government.”

Mr. Sutherland:

“Copold’s suggestions about how to deal with Moslem lands, Israel and America’s profligate aid to both are about right.”

As far as straight cash is concerned Israel gets $3B/year in grants and maybe loans. Bulk of that money is spent on US made military hardware. $3B is a nice chunk of change but Israel has $103B economy. Termination of this aid will not be a disaster. In fact Ben Netanyahu (sp?) was making noises about reducing aid to allow Israel to be more independent. Israel friends in Congress would have none of it.

To put things is perspective: by time the major activities will be over in Iraq, we probably will have spent $200B on that pisshole. You can rest assured that return from Iraqi adventure will not correspond to the blood and treasure expended.

Beside monetary aid, US provides an implicit security protection to Israel and explicit political cover in UN. It was 30 years since last time Israel needed help in crisis situation. If not for US cover in UN, Israel probably would have been expelled from UN and embargo would have been imposed. Do Mr. Copold and Mr. Sutherland propose that UN embargoing Israel benefits USA?

Do they seriously think that US should be neutral in conflicts between a good friend and states that wish us dead?

Posted by: Mik on June 23, 2004 1:18 AM

Mik, I seriously doubt that Mssrs. Copold and Sutherland would advocate the US abandoning its support for Israel in the UN, provided they think we should even remain in the utter facre that the UN has become. My personal opinion is that the UN really needs a new headquarters. The island of Bouvet in the extreme South Atlantic is the perfect place - far away from everywhere. The thought of Kofi and all of those UN diplomats cooling their heels amongst the penguins of Bouvet is a cheerful one indeed - though perhaps one of the guano islands in the South Pacific would be the best of all.

Posted by: Carl on June 23, 2004 4:09 AM

Thanks to Carl for sticking up for me. Ending foreign aid to Israel is not abandonment, and does not preclude friendly relations to the extent consistent with American interests. I would end all unconstitutional foreign aid if I could, especially to Moslem countries. I agree with Netanyahu about U.S. aid to Israel, as I wrote above, although I’m not sure that is Netanyahu’s position today. That said, I agree with Mik that we are likely to be net losers as a result of the Iraq Attaq.

Carl is right again: get the UN out of New York, and the United States out of the UN. New York has far too many odious (and odiferous) unwelcome aliens as it is. Getting rid of the UN would not cut down the numbers much, but every little bit helps… Why deprive the Norwegians of Bouvet for the sake of the UN? According to some UN agreement, nothing south of 60 degrees south latitude is supposed to be subject to any sovereign nation’s control, in order to preserve Antarctica pristine. If that is what the UN wants, isn’t Antarctica the perfect place for its headquarters? Put the bureaucrats on an ice floe and, yes, let them take their cues from the penguins. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on June 23, 2004 9:20 AM


Free money, even for weapons, turns into a burden in the long run. And it goes beyond the $3 billion in direct aid that are on the books. There’s also another $7 billion in loans that often get converted into grants down the road. Added up over time and that’s a lot of money. It still isn’t as much as the $200 billion we’re quite frankly wasting in Iraq, but it’s still alot, and it entangles us in Israeli disputes, both to our detriment and to theirs. “Free money” isn’t free.

Posted by: Derek Copold on June 23, 2004 10:09 AM

To Mr. Auster:

It is possible that Fr. Murray was quoting Voegelin in the passage I had in mind. It is also possible that I have conflated the two. It is further possible that I was thinking rather of Willmoore Kendall, who was a disciple of Voegelin; and indeed used Voegelin’s terminology and method in the last book he wrote, The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition.

I think it is probably fair to conceive of Murray as a “proto neocon,” as Mr. Auster puts it. Indeed, is most famous book We Hold These Truths is subtitled “Reflections on the American _Proposition_.” But, just as the first generation of neocons were more serious and thoughtful men than their later acolytes, so their forebears were yet more serious.

For example, Fr. Murray’s critique of modern First Amendment jurisprudence is brilliant (not to mention, I would guess, wholly unpalatable to contemporary neoconservatives). I relied on that critique for this essay:

Posted by: Paul Cella on June 23, 2004 10:55 AM

(My apologies for inserting a comment so unrelated to the discussion at hand.)

Posted by: Paul Cella on June 23, 2004 10:56 AM

Here is a fine essay which seems apropos to this sidebar:

And I will take the opportunity to point VFR readers and contributors to a publication that shows great promise, The New Pantagruel:

Posted by: Paul Cella on June 23, 2004 11:22 AM

I should have made it clear but failed to do so. I think cutting or totally removing US financial aid to Israel is good for both sides.

For the USA it is an apparent savings of a few billions a year, not that these savings would not be blown on something much worse than the aid to Israel.

For Israel it will cause a moderate pain for a short time which will cause them to drop a few more socialistic dead weights from their economy. A more healthy economy and relationship with US will result.

As far as political cover US provides for Israel, it should be expanded as much as is compatible with the US interests.

Having said that, the US aid to Israel is the biggest direct aid to a foregn country but a very small amount as far as US goverment expenditures abroad. I bet the defense of neutral Europe (why?), semi-neutral S Korea and semi-friendly Japan costs order of magnitude more.

Undue attention to this small element of the US security budget is surprising at the very least.

Posted by: Mik on June 23, 2004 11:12 PM

Hugh Fitzgerald’s comment was too long and too interesting to be a comment so I’ve reposted it in its own page where it can become the basis of further discussion.

Posted by: Hugh on June 24, 2004 12:52 AM

We shouldn’t be underwriting any country’s defense. The rationale for NATO and our presence in Japan and Korea died with the Soviet Union. All of these countries should be encouraged to build up their own defenses.

Posted by: Derek Copold on June 24, 2004 10:00 AM

Once again Mr. Copold and I agree. The preoccupation with the Persian Gulf and Desert Storm helped ensure that the necessary thoroughgoing review of the U.S. armed forces’ roles and missions that should have followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact never really took place. It is long overdue, and there is no reason for U.S. forces to be permanently based in Germany, Korea, Japan and the United Kingdom any longer (or most anywhere else for that matter). Use the Army to contain Mexico, project power with the fleet, and maintain the sea and airlift to deploy forces as required from domestic bases.

As an immigration restrictionist South Korea really sticks in my craw. We fought a war for that country, have defended it for over half a century and sent it untold billions in aid. Under our defense umbrella the country has prospered, yet still sends millions of immigrants to the United States, including via package tours to Los Angeles for pregnant Korean ladies so they can give birth to anchor babies. Koreans are industrious, if not very friendly, and I have nothing against them. But to defend and fund their country and still let them move here essentially unrestricted is too much. One of the Bush administration’s most remarkable forays into immigration idiocy was to support re-settling 8,000 North Korean refugees … in the United States! What for? HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on June 24, 2004 5:18 PM

Howard Sutherland on South Koreans:

“Koreans are industrious, if not very friendly”.

In my experience they are very unfriendly.

Posted by: Mik on June 24, 2004 10:31 PM

To Mr. Sutherland,

What are the _ostensible_ reasons given for the continued large scale presence of U.S. forces in Germany, Japan, and Britain? (Korea is obviously a separate case.) I’ve never seen this explained.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 25, 2004 5:46 AM

What is the ostensible reason for the continued existence of NATO?

Posted by: Clark Coleman on June 25, 2004 8:03 AM

Carroll Quigley once wrote that institutions begin with an objective, external purpose, but eventually lose that purpose and then just exist in order to maintain their own existence, or for some other purpose separate from the ostensible purpose of the organization. That seems to be the case with NATO since 1991. Since the previous purpose of NATO was to defend Europe from the Soviet empire, and since the Soviet empire no longer exists, the purpose of NATO at this point seems to be nothing more than to hold the Western countries together and to give the US continuing influence in Europe. That’s its real purpose. It exists in order to go on existing. But obviously that can’t be publicly stated, or so I would assume. So some ostensible or formal reason for its existence must be given. But I have no idea what that ostensible or formal reason is.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 25, 2004 8:35 AM

To Messrs. Auster and Coleman,

The only post-Soviet explanation I have seen for the continuing presence of U.S forces in Germany, Great Britain and Japan is the need to maintain stability, never defined. Same with NATO, along with occasional boilerplate about containing Russia, a concern that seems to me misplaced.

I think the Quigley thesis is as good an explanation as any, along with bureaucratic inertia and using preoccupation with the Middle East as an excuse for not coming to grips with force structure changes we need to make elsewhere in the world. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on June 25, 2004 9:40 AM

Perhaps the soldier’s purpose is to keep the economy going in the towns they are stationed in or near?
“Gosh, we’ve relied on business from American troops for so long, we cannot think what would happen if the US army took its fat wallet elsewhere.”
That’s why Germany wants US troops to stay, anyway.

Posted by: Michael Jose on June 25, 2004 1:23 PM

A Washington policy person who often writes about U.S. relations with Islam sent me this comment on the original article in this thread. I reproduce it with his permission:

“Well, two thoughts. first, I don’t think that the characterization of Bernard Lewis’ work is fair; he’s certainly distinguished among different Islamic groups and nations over the centuries. He admits he was wrong to believe in Oslo.

“Second, as I have said many times before, I do not believe in such blanket generalizations. My ancestors in the Middle Ages would, and in some cases were, delighted to take refuge in one of the two caliphates from the antisemitic regimes in place in “Christian” Europe. So by your yardstick I suppose we should have concluded that Christianity was not capable of reform and that we’d better go elsewhere. but reform did occur, and there have been many fairly tolerant Muslim moments.

“In short, as usual, I bridle at efforts to oversimplify history and human nature. Remember I’m an Italianist, so I’m used to studying things that are enormously complicated, both hateful and lovable, sometimes rigid othertimes capable of change, sometimes brilliant sometimes braindead. but the food is good, pretty much always. and the music too.”

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 25, 2004 10:25 PM

So basically the Washington policy writer said “You’re wrong, it’s more complicated, we were once bad, Italian food is good.” Does he work for the State Department?

I wonder if these “many fairly tolerant Muslim moments” happened after Muslim defeats?

Posted by: Damon on June 26, 2004 8:11 AM

I agree. He’s saying, since Christendom at some points in the past treated Jews more harshly than Islam treated Jews, therefore Christendom _seemed_ as unreformable then as Islam _seems_ today. His equation of Islam with Christendom shows a complete failure to understand the differences of essence and of level between the two civilizations. He falsely makes them seem equivalent, and he does that through the one selective aspect of how they have treated Jews.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 26, 2004 9:35 AM

It seems the policy writer chose that aspect based on his estimation of tolerance and inclusivity as the ultimate criteria for civilization.

Posted by: Damon on June 26, 2004 9:54 AM

Mr. Sutherland writes:

“He also describes Israel as a Western nation. While Israel has many Western features, the common element in all modern Western nations is a Christian foundation…”

That “foundation” I believe must of necessity include Judaism.

Posted by: Bern on June 26, 2004 12:17 PM

The answer to Bern’s point, I believe, lies in a more layered definition of the West. The foundation of the West certainly includes Judaism, no one would contest that. And Judaism is also the foundation of Christianity, no one would contest that. But the formation of a distinctive Western culture in the Dark Ages following the fall of the Western Roman empire was the formation of Christian states. For centuries, what we now call the West was called Christendom. In the modern period, Christendom (in the sense of a society in which Christianity is formally dominant) has come to an end, and the self-understanding of all Western countries is that they are liberal. In that sense, Israel is a part of the West, not because Israel is Jewish, but because Israel is liberal. But is a West that has cut itself off from its Christian roots still the West? So, before we answer the question of whether Israel is part of the West, we must answer the question of whether the West still exists. As I write in my pamphlet Erasing America, the West has changed so much that its very existence is now ambiguous.

But let us say that the West revived itself. In the world as we would envision it, the traditional nations of the West would be Christian again, with the Christianity superceding the liberalism, instead of the liberalism superceding the Christianity, as is now the case. However, liberalism in its older sense—meaning the respect for the individual, for freedom of thought, for the rule of law, not men—is still an instrinsic part of the West. And Israel in this ideal scenario of a revived Christian West would still be a part of the West even though it was not Christian. It would be part of the West because of its individualism and freedom, and it would be part of the West because of the intimate connections between Judaism and Christianity.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on June 26, 2004 1:21 PM
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