Friday, February 04, 2005

Diagnosis: Tyranny

One of the most inspirational passages of President Bush's SOTU speech was a reprise of his Inaugural. It had to do with tyranny and freedom:

In the long term, the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder.

If whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred, they will be the recruiting grounds for terror, and that terror will stalk America and other free nations for decades.

The only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror and replace hatred with hope is the force of human freedom.

We have come to appreciate that the popular belief that the "root cause" of terrorism must be poverty is incorrect (see here), and what Bush is proposing as an alternative is rather radical: Tyranny is the root cause.

As Daniel McGroarty in RealClearPolitics put it:

Witness George W. Bush’s new twist on the root cause argument: What’s lacking isn’t economic opportunity, but political freedom – not material want, but moral autonomy.


Let me also propose something radical. TYRANNY is also the root cause of poverty. Wherever you find political oppression, you will find poverty. Wherever despots control the means of production, you will find poverty. That is why it is so easy to believe that poverty could be the "root cause". But it is only a symptom of a larger disease. Political freedom and the extent to which it enables capitalism and the free market determines the wealth of nations.

Victor Davis Hanson has a wonderful editorial at his site that pulls it all together (hat tip: LGF):

What explains this automatic censure of the United States, Israel, and to a lesser extent the Anglo-democracies of the United Kingdom and Australia? Westernization, coupled with globalization, has created an affluent and leisured elite that now gravitates to universities, the media, bureaucracies, and world organizations, all places where wealth is not created, but analyzed, critiqued, and lavishly spent.

Thus we now expect that the New York Times, Harper's, Le Monde, U.N. functionaries who call us "stingy," French diplomats, American writers and actors will all (1) live a pretty privileged life; (2) in recompense "feel" pretty worried and guilty about it; (3) somehow connect their unease over their comfort with a pathology of the world's hyperpower, the United States; and (4) thus be willing to risk their elite status, power, or wealth by very brave acts such as writing anguished essays, giving pained interviews, issuing apologetic communiqu├ęs, braving the rails to Davos, and barking off-the-cuff furious remarks about their angst over themes (1) through (3) above. What a sad contrast they make with far better Iraqis dancing in the street to celebrate their voting.

There is something else to this shrillness of the global throng besides the obvious fact of hypocrisy — that very few of the world's Westernized cynical echelon ever move to the ghetto to tutor those they champion in the abstract, reside in central Africa to feed the poor, give up tenure to ensure employment for the exploited lecturer, or pass on the Washington or New York A-list party to eat in the lunch hall with the unwashed. Davos after all, is not quite central Bolivia or the Sudan
(Emphasis VDH). Just go read the whole thing, will you? (My comment!)

Many places in the world are afflicted with a disease that, if left untreated, is fatal. To put it in medical terms:

Diagnosis: TYRANNY
Symptoms: terrorism, poverty, hopelessness
Treatment: FREEDOM and its economic partner, CAPITALISM


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