Henri-Levy has been on the ground working with the Libyans for some time, during a relatively dangerous time. Agree with him or not, he’s placed himself at risk and helped others to understand some of what could be at stake for themselves and the West in Libya (The New York Observer has a review of his recent book “Left In Dark Times: A Stand Against The New Barbarism”). He frames the murder and parading of Gadhafi’s corpse thusly:
‘Either this collective crime will be, like the beheading of the last king of France in Albert Camus’s account, the founding act of the coming era, which would be a terrible sign. Or it will be the swan song of a barbarous age, the end of the Libyan night, the death rattle of Gaddafi’s system, which, before expiring, must turn against its founder and inject him with his own venom, making way for a new era that will fulfill the promises of the Arab Spring.’
As I write, the latter is my ardent wish. More than that, it is my conviction’
There is a bit of the romantic, war-correspondent at work here, and a more sober eye could be cast upon American interests (and how far can we really trust a Frenchman with those?). If we look at it with a Burkean lens, that tradition is still carrying the flame of a more radical, Rousseauian, highly individualized, post-Enlightenment liberty and its dangers. Henri-Levy is part of a tradition that defines liberty much more broadly than many Americans are comfortable with and which poses great risk to the efficacy of our institutions and our freedoms. He has stood up against anti-semitism and anti-Americanism and other dangerous strains of the French and European Left, but…still.
We may come to reap the benefits of closer cooperation with Britain and France in protecting their interests, and helping them in their backyard, spreading some of the anti-Western sentiment and reasonable suspicion around that America has brought upon itself after Iraq and post 09/11. We also may bind ourselves to decisions and decision-making that improperly define our responsibilities that can lead to greater conflict in seen and unforeseen ways. It is a confusing time.
I’m skeptical it hasn’t been a mistake to put these ideas at the center of American foreign policy, just as I think it would be a mistake to exclude them entirely and exclude what many people may have learned on the ground in times of crisis as either intellectuals, war-correspondents, observers, aid-workers and other defenders and definers of liberty, especially in the Arab world right now.
Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Addition: One of the major policy goals of the current administration seems to be siding with it sees as the interests of the people of the Middle-East, not necessarily the autocrats and dictators, and this Wilsonian direction as the path toward moral legitimacy.
Another addition: Just how far Left is this administration anyways?
For anyone, but especially Leftists and recovering Leftists, it takes moral courage to stand up to the messianism, Islamic moral absolutism, and dark theocratic tendencies of the Middle East…liberty is key as well as moral responsibility to think in terms of the legitimacy of rule here at home: …From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’…Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’…From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’