The intellectual decadence of Daniel Pipes

This past March 10 Daniel Pipes wrote on the subject of Libya:

[W]hat advice to give the Obama administration? Help the Libyan opposition with aid and escalate as needed.

… Working with international authorization, the U.S. government should fulfill its accustomed role of leadership and help Libya’s opposition. However risky that course, doing nothing is yet riskier.

Pipes did not identify the risks of doing nothing. He did, however, identify the risks of helping the rebels, among which was this:

However repulsive [Kaddafi] may be, his (Islamist?) opponents could be yet more threatening to U.S. interests.

So, despite his believing that the rebels could well be Islamists, which meant that helping them overturn Kaddafi would mean bringing an Islamist regime to power in Libya, Pipes said we should support them. I commented: “Daniel Pipes, the master logician of our age.”

And now, in the aftermath of Kaddafi’s fall, Pipes in an August 22 column continues his career as master logician:

Many are ready to party about the political demise of the hated, eccentric, and foul Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi as rebel troops move into Tripoli. I am not partying. Here’s why not.

The NATO intervention in March 2011 was done without due diligence as to who it is in Benghazi that it was helping. To this day, their identity is a mystery. Chances are good that Islamist forces are hiding behind more benign elements, waiting for the right moment to pounce…. Should that be the case in Libya today, then the miserable Qaddafi will prove to be better than his successors for both the Libyan subjects of tyranny and the West.

I hope I am wrong and the rebels are modern and liberal. But I fear that a dead-end despotism will be replaced by the agents of a worldwide ideological movement. I fear that Western forces will have brought civilization’s worst enemies to power.

He fears that Western forces have brought the West’s worst enemies to power. Yet in March he supported bringing to power these same people who he feared are our worst enemies. So not only does he fear now—when it’s too late to avoid the insane and criminal error of helping them—that they are our enemies; he feared the same back in March, when he urged that we help them.

Pipes personifies the complete intellectual decadence of a culture in which writers, if they are “established,” are never held accountable for their statements and positions, and as a result feel free to indulge themselves in the most spectacular and irresponsible contradictions. Debate is dead. Discourse is dead. And only a society in which discourse is dead would have allowed the madness of the Libyan intervention.

—end of initial entry—

LA writes:

Pipes wrote:

Many are ready to party about the political demise of the hated, eccentric, and foul Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi as rebel troops move into Tripoli. I am not partying.

This is typical of the immature, personalist terms in which contemporary intellectuals, including “conservative” intellectuals, talk. They reduce an important issue to whether they are “partying” about it or not, i.e., whether they feel good about it or not. Reason and logic have nothing to do with it. It’s all about how Daniel Pipes feels.

Peter H. writes:

The man is a walking contradiction. In essence, “we must help the people who represent a great danger to us.” But when we do help them, as he suggested we do, and they gain power in their country, he’s not happy about it.

To me, his other great contradiction is to tell us endlessly, in article after article, about the dangers of the Moslems among us, how many of them there are all around us and around the world, that their mosques are 80 percent radicalized, that radicalism is ascendent, etc., but Islam is absolutely fantastic! It reminds me very much of your “The Search for Moderate Islam” articles.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 30, 2011 03:40 PM | Send

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