You can’t say that VDH doesn’t care about California, and he gives it a lot of credit despite the following:
‘California’s multidimensional decline-fiscal, commercial, social, and political-sometimes seems endless.’
I imagine it must be tough for a well-educated, reasonably conservative Democrat from a farming family in the Central Valley looking out upon the coast. He finishes with:
‘Soon, even the Stanford professor and the La Jolla administrator may learn that illegal immigration, cumbersome regulations, and the terrible elementary schools affect them as well.
The four-part solution for California is clear: don’t raise the state’s crushing taxes any higher; reform public-employee compensation: make use of ample natural resources: and stop the flow of illegal aliens. Just focus on those four areas-as California did so well in the past-and in time, the state will return to its bounty of a few decades ago. Many of us intend to stay and see that it does.
The public and private sector unions, the teachers’ unions, the green lobby, racial politics and the politicized efforts of groups like La Raza and the large pool of public sentiment for their causes will not be easy to get around, that’s for sure.
So goes California, so goes the nation?
-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.
-A map from Immodest Proposals on how to divide California. Just some suggestions.
VDH was a supporter of the Iraq war as part of a larger war against “Islamic fascism.” He is registered Democrat but generally conservative (neoconservative?), and I suspect virtue, duty, and honor are central to a lot of his thinking as he is a military historian who’s written extensively about the Peloponessian wars.
As he points out, we are in an asymmetrical war against Islamic terrorists and also in potential conflict with the nations which actively support, harbor, or simply cannot control those terrorists within their borders. He discusses some of the forces inside Muslim countries which help to produce these terrorists as he sees them: anti-modernism, anti-Westernism, an Islamic resurgence whose sharp edge is going to drive the infidel and his Western influences from the Arabian peninsula and restore purist Islam.
In a democracy like ours (he no doubt sees parallels to ancient Athens) we generally don’t provide a lot of public support to a war unless we are in real danger as we were on 9/11. This kind of ongoing conflict (USS Cole, embassy bombings, Ft. Hood, Times Square bomber) is a tough sell to Americans and VDH is generally suspect of our will to see the struggle through as for him it is a conflict to be won, military campaigns and all.
I’d add that as we speak, Obama’s liberal internationalist policy platform is pursuing a goal which I would support if I had more confidence it would reap reward without too much sacrifice and change to our own freedoms, traditions and institutions (and not lead us into the European multicultural solution which is in part relying on our military strength).
This goal is getting a plurality if not a majority of Muslims to stand up and say to those terrorists, Al-Qaida members, inflammatory Imams and radicals amongst them: Stop it. Your way is not our way.
On this view, to achieve this goal, you meet with these Muslims and their organizations where they are, and you try and punish/reward their political leaders who cannot be too far in front of their people. You still try and install more Western democratic institutions and include the people under a set of ideals which you presume to be universal, but with as little military involvement as possible. Now you have the “right ideas.”
According to liberal internationalism, curbing American force, withdrawing our military from Afghanistan and Iraq (but involving it in unforeseen ways in Libya, and leaving it out of Syria?) is the best way forward. With carrots and sticks this will somehow, in the long run, lead toward peace by including and representing all parties without exposing them to the sharp edge of Western society. The preferred ideals of women’s freedoms, human rights, and tolerance are often pursued most prominently.
As VDH points out, our enemies (Al Qaida, terrorists in general, Ahmadinejad, Hizbollah) see this approach as a sign of weakness, and will take any advantage they can which poses other risks to our security. Our old enemies like Russia and unknowns like China will do much the same, and international institutions may not be the best way to handle any common interests. The kinds of institutions which this worldview produces are like the relatively ineffective ones it has already already produced: the U.N., the failures of the Eurozone and its top down class of bureaucrats, and the excesses of more indebted and unsustainable Western States whose people are being out-produced and out-reproduced.
There is a serious design flaw to such an approach, aside from the Rousseuian tendencies and the idealism inherent within it.
I’m not sure I’m totally on board with another military campaign in the Middle-East and I know many fellow Americans are not as well, so I’ll leave with this quotation by Samuel Huntington which I keep putting up:
“Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.’
Any thoughts and comments are welcome. Please feel free to highlight my ignorance.