Friday, May 11, 2007

Exporting Culture

In The Human Community, defending Tony Blair's legacy, David "Babbling" Brooks strikes again:
Over the past three years, people on the left and right have moved away from Blair and toward Huntington. There has been a sharp rise in the number of people who think it’s insane to try to export our values into alien cultures. Instead of emphasizing our common community, people are more likely to emphasize the distances and conflicts between cultures. Whether the subject is immigration, trade or foreign affairs, there is a greater desire to build separation fences because differences in values seem deeply rooted and impossible to erase.
Oh, come on. As if we're truly talking about "exporting culture". The wacky leftist weirdos in Hollywood (and their wacky, right-wing parent companies) have had no problem exporting American culture, and profiting handsomely at the same time. Every indicator is that they would like to increase this trade. We sell, they buy. A Starbucks on every corner worldwide, right across from the McDonalds.

What Brooks is talking about is "export" at the point of a gun. Even if you interpret Iraq sympathetically, assuming that Tony Blair truly did believe the "We'll be greeted as liberators, and showered with flowers and candy" line, surely that would raise some concern in your mind - destroying a foreign nation's government and much of its infrastructure as a first step in transforming it into a progressive democracy? Imposing neoliberalism, privatization, a flat tax, and other western constructs at the outset, without even examining if those constructs are consistent with what we would do at home, let alone how they would be received by those subjected to the "reforms"? (We're now exporting not our culture, as such, but what certain right-wing elements would prefer our culture to be?) And then we get to the fact that the occupation and "reconstruction" has been botched in a manner that many war proponents now concede has all-but-doomed the project to failure.

History will not be kind to either Tony Blair or George Bush in relation to the Iraq war. If the project cannot be salvaged, they will be blamed for getting us into Iraq. If the project can be salvaged, their successors will be credited with fixing the current mess.

To the extent that those who joined with Bush and Blair in a video game fantasy war which, not surprisingly, turned out to be a lot more complicated than they had anticipated? Their increased skepticism of similar interventionism can only be regarded as a good thing. To the extent that the Iraq war makes it harder to intervene in a nation where intervention could truly be helpful? That's not the fault of those now reacting to the mistakes of Bush and Blair - it is the fault of Bush and Blair.

1 comment:

  1. "Their increased skepticism of similar interventionism can only be regarded as a good thing."

    The problem is that I don't think we will see an "increased skepticism". The people who got us into this mess were the ones who criticized the last idiot for "nation building". The president before that got us into Somalia . . . and there are coalitions of morons on both sides of the political divide who are screaming to get us into Darfur.

    There are times when I think that the only thing that will get us back into some kind of rational use of force doctrine would be to have some kind of "targeted" draft that was designed to make sure that at least some reasonable number of our leaders had served in the military and maybe more importantly had children who were serving . . .

    Maybe Heinlein (sp) had it right after all . . .



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