The Corner

Re: Clash of Titans

Rich:

I think — hope — we have now reached the point where everyone knows what we think, and can weigh the merits of our views based on what we have already posted. I don’t think it will be taken as a cop-out, therefore, if I hang up here. (Though not before saying that you are one of the busiest guys I know, as well as one of the smartest, and that I’m flattered to have enjoyed such a long rally with you.)

If I may just make a sort of meta-point: It’s been interesting to see the underlying models for our views of the matter.

Yours: WW2, I think, and the postwar reconstruction of Germany and Japan.

By good will, hard work, and patience, we can make enemies into friends, and turn dictatorships into democracies.

Mine: Imperial statecraft. I see the world as comprised of a zone of civilization, and a zone of barbarism. The barbarians are nomads and raiders (or descended from such), who attack us by raiding “over the wall”

when we are complacent and unprepared — that is how I saw 9/11. Our policy should be the one practiced by the great empires throughout history: (1) Soothe the barbarians with flattery, gifts, bribes, and commerce — and yes, always hope they will take up civilized ways, which they always might. (2) Watch them constantly for signs of trouble. Infiltrate, conduct quiet assassinations, set them squabbling among themselves. (I greatly enjoyed the Iran-Iraq War.) Then, when (1) and (2) fail, as they always do sooner or later, (3) send an expeditionary force to chase them round the steppe, smash up their assets, humiliate their leaders, and knock them off balance for a few decades.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. In one respect, though, you have got me cold: Your approach is indisutably more American than mine.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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