Monday, April 20, 2015

Moral and Intellectual Heft Gives Us a Nudge

In the little corners of my humble little library ... or in one of the various stacks hither-n-yon about the room, you can find some of the books by those who helped shape the mind of the teenage Sal.

Perhaps it was the annoying habit of old-line Southern families that have a draw to what seem at the time as romantic lost causes, or just the example of intellectual bravery in the face of tyranny - maybe both - but as a budding young man I was drawn to what were in the Cold War, Titans in resistance the tide of history - with time seen as a false tide, but fierce it was at the time.

Vaclav Havel, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Natan Sharansky are three of the top-shelf authors of the time.

To this day, I still do not understand how the people of the Left were such apologists for the evils of Communism (and some still are) with such powerful witnesses out there - but such are the mysteries of men.

These men, still living and dead - deserve a hearing when they speak.

At the end of last week, Natan Sharansky had a bit in the NYT that I recommend for your Monday ponderings, When did America forget that it’s America?;
Why the dramatic shift? One could suggest a simple answer: Today there is something the United States wants badly from Iran, leaving Washington and its allies with little bargaining power to demand additional concessions. Yet in fact Iran has at least as many reasons to hope for a deal. For Tehran, the lifting of sanctions could spell the difference between bankruptcy and becoming a regional economic superpower, and in slowing down its arms race it could avoid a military attack.

I am afraid that the real reason for the U.S. stance is not its assessment, however incorrect, of the two sides’ respective interests but rather a tragic loss of moral self-confidence. While negotiating with the Soviet Union, U.S. administrations of all stripes felt certain of the moral superiority of their political system over the Soviet one. They felt they were speaking in the name of their people and the free world as a whole, while the leaders of the Soviet regime could speak for no one but themselves and the declining number of true believers still loyal to their ideology.

But in today’s postmodern world, when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions.

We have yet to see the full consequences of this moral diffidence, but one thing is clear: The loss of America’s self-assured global leadership threatens not only the United States and Israel but also the people of Iran and a growing number of others living under Tehran’s increasingly emboldened rule. Although the hour is growing late, there is still time to change course — before the effects grow more catastrophic still.
Elections have consequences.

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