Sunday, December 10, 2006

Orson Scott Card on Iraq

My dad’s cousin always said Orson Scott Card was a weenie. She went to high school with him, so I guess she would know. Weenie or not, he seems to have gone off the deep end after 9/11.

He is one of those unfortunate “liberals” who has latched onto the war in Iraq as the single transcendent issue of our time, and then drawn exactly the wrong conclusions from the experiences of the past five years. I stumbled onto an essay of his through Glenn Reynolds shortly before the election—a true gem, its length is only exceeded by its stunning and complete wrongness.

Wrong on the “war on whatever”:

[W]e are not waging a "War in Iraq." We are waging a world war, in which the campaigns to topple the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan were brilliantly successful, and the current "lukewarm" war demands great patience and determination from the American people as we ready ourselves for the next phase.

Wrong on the "war of choice":
No matter which miserable dictatorship we moved against after the Taliban -- and we had no choice but to keep moving on if we were to eradicate the grave danger we faced (and face) . . .

Wrong on Vietnam:
As happened in South Vietnam. The negotiated peace was more or less holding after American withdrawal. But then a Democratic Congress refused to authorize any further support for the South Vietnamese government. No more armaments. No more budget.

In other words, we forcibly disarmed our allies, while their enemies continued to be supplied by the great Communist powers. The message was clear: Those who rely on America are fools.

Wrong on Iraq Adventure, the First:
Bush Senior did nothing as Saddam moved in and slaughtered them. The tragedy is that all it would have taken is a show of force on our part in support of the rebels, and Saddam's officers would have toppled him. Only when it became clear that we would do nothing did it become impossible for any high-ranking officials to take action. For the price of the relatively easy military action that would have made Saddam turn his troops around and leave the Shiite south, we could have gotten rid of him then -- and had grateful friends, perhaps, in the Shiite south.
Wrong on Iraq Part II:
In Iraq and Afghanistan -- but especially Iraq -- President Bush is behaving according to America's best and most honorable tradition. We did not come to destroy, we came to liberate and rescue, he says -- by word and deed. We bring freedom and opportunity. Our money will help rebuild your devastated (or never built-up) economies; our expertise will help train your most talented people to be ready for prosperity and self-government; and our military will keep enemies from overwhelming you as you reinvent yourselves.

Wrong on Muslim perceptions of the West and Bush’s commitment to democracy in the Middle East:
[T]hrough nation-building, through the promise of democracy, Bush has created a rallying point with far stronger resonance than anything the Islamic puritans have to offer.

What is their program, after all? We'll take your sons and get them to blow themselves up in order to murder westerners! Forget the rhetoric -- Muslim parents are human beings, and there is nothing more devastating than to lose a child. The only consolation is when it seems to be in a noble cause. But because of President Bush's promise of democracy, the Muslim puritan cause does not seem noble to more and more Muslims.

. . .

There are, of course, fanatics who will embrace Islamic terrorism because they choose to blind themselves to the truth and embrace the noble-seeming lies of the tyrants. Al-Qaeda does not lack for recruits.

But it also does not lack for people who fear and hate them. There are few pro-Al-Qaeda demonstrations on the Arab street. The people remember the images of liberated Iraqis tearing down the images of Saddam. And they know -- because they have relatives and friends, they hear from merchants and travelers -- that in most of Iraq, there is freedom and prosperity like never before.

(Wow. You really need special training to be this detached from reality.)

Wrong on Iraqi support for continued American presence in the country:
even more than they fear terrorist bombs, the pro-democracy forces within Iraq and Afghanistan fear American withdrawal.

Wrong on . . . so many levels:
Critics of Bush love to cite the many "mistakes" his administration has made. Most of these "mistakes" are arguable -- are they mistakes at all? -- and when you sum up the others, with any kind of rational understanding of military history, the only possible conclusion is that this is the best-run war in history, with the fewest mistakes. And most of the mistakes we've made are the kind that become clear to morning-after quarterbacks but were difficult to avoid in the fog of war.

Wrong on the future (I hope):
If we do not win this containable war now, following the plan President Bush has set forth, we will surely end up fighting far bloodier wars for the next generation.

Only if people like you are still in charge of our foreign policy, which looks increasingly less likely. Oh, wait:
If we, the American people, are stupid enough to give control of either or both houses of Congress to the Democratic Party in this election, we will deserve the world we find ourselves in five years from now.

That might actually be true!

Card also goes into an "incisive analysis" of the politics of the Middle East that, on its own, should safely ensure he is never taken seriously on the topic again. Well, maybe that’s too much to ask of the blogosphere. We go to war with the brains we have, not the brains we want.

This essay is a gift that keeps on giving. Somehow I don’t think any amount of empirical evidence will ever convince this man of anything new.

He’s been so thoroughly and consistently wrong that he couldn’t limit himself to penning lengthy discourses of wrongness located in the world we currently inhabit—the nonfiction genre did not provide sufficient ground for developing his wrong ideas—he had to write a work of fiction to bring to pass the fullness of his wrongness. (The liberal sphere took a look at it a couple weeks ago here, here, and here.)

Here’s an excerpt:
What the terrorists aren't counting on, thought Cole, is that America isn't a completely decadent country yet. When you stab us, we don't roll over and ask what we did wrong and would you please forgive us. Instead we turn around and take the knife out of your hand. Even though the whole world, insanely, condemns us for it.

Cole could imagine the way this was getting covered by the media in the rest of the world. Oh, tragic that the President was dead. Official condolences. Somber faces. But they'd be dancing in the streets in Paris and Berlin, not to mention Moscow and Beijing. After all, those were the places where America was blamed for all the trouble in the world. What a laugh -- capitals that had once tried to conquer vast empires, damning America for behaving far better than they did when they were in the ascendancy.

"You look pissed off," said Malich.

"Yeah," said Cole. "The terrorists are crazy and scary, but what really pisses me off is knowing that this will make a whole bunch of European intellectuals very happy."

Orson, for the love of God, stop calling yourself a Democrat. It’s embarrassing for all of us.

And whatever happened to that movie version of Ender's Game?

1 comment:

Karla said...

Maybe Card should stick to fantasy. Oh wait, he did. I had no idea he ever called himself a Democrat.