The Importance of Perspective
The Wild Monk has an interesting post that shows what a difference a world-view can make.
The hard left, always on hair-trigger alert for American malfeasance, sees Bush's willingness to brashly rewrite the rules as proof that he is a reckless cowboy. He is placing the existing world at risk because he's too ignorant - or malevolent - to understand that blame for Saddam rests with American policy and that military action will only make things worse. Ever mindful of the Arab street and the North Korean psychopaths, they panic that his uncouth American posturing will simply fan the flames of anti-American hatred.
On the right, Bush is morphing into the new Reagan: determined to do what is right to protect American interests regardless of the nattering of impotent[French, Belgium, and German] Europeans or the prevailing leftist wisdom declared in the New York Times. The right sees a man who isn't afraid to tell things as they are - to hell with the Arab street and their fundamentalist poison - and who isn't afraid to force murderous Islamic thugs to back down even on pain of death. In this view we have been plunged into a new world order regardless of our wishes or desires. To pretend otherwise is to abdicate the responsibility given to us by history and by the heritage of liberal democracy. In this view, the only wise path is to engage this new world order on its own terms: to take war to the enemy and to act decisively to protect the nation and the wider civilization. We must act now, says the right, before the enemy strengthens or our own resolve weakens.
But, in adopting either ideal, each of us would do well to avoid descending into kataleptsis: the hateful smear, the sneering derision, and the collection of little hatreds, snubs and indignities like pennies in a penny-jar that we hope to redeem for a larger and more satisfying payback some day. That path may provide victory in battle in the short run but it will surely bring about an even greater loss to the cause of international peace and democracy in the long run.
I found this to be quite an interesting post. Other than disagreeing with his lumping the diverse countries of Europe into one category, I think the Wild Monk has done a great job in capturing the mindset of both the American Left and Right. His admonishment to treat even our political opponents with respect is wise if we hope for relations to improve. This is true for both domestic and foreign politics. Of course taken to an extreme, that would mean no more French jokes. As long as Chirac is in power, Ill practice another adage as well moderation in all things.
update: The Wild Monk agreed with me - he has revised his post. Instead of lumping all European nations together, the post now says "old" Europe.