This has been a week in which the pronouncements of politicians on assorted crises worldwide have been sounding like one long bad weather report — the main feature being that nothing said in the capitals corresponds to the realities right outside the window. On Iraq, Congress is busy declaring that the way to win is to surrender. On North Korea, President Bush and Condi Rice have decided that the way to protect us from rogue acts of the totalitarian bomb-building regime of Kim Jong Il is to send aid and comfort to cheating Kim. On Iran, where the regime has been fomenting terror in Iraq, backing Hezbollah’s terrorist bid to take over Lebanon, and racing double-time to build the nuclear bomb, the main game plan seems to consist now of Condi Rice trying to barrel ahead with the creation of a Palestinian state — on the shopworn fallacy that this is the key to balancing and solving the tyranny-and-terror-based problems of the Middle East. What’s gone entirely out of fashion is the idea that America should stand up for its bedrock principles of freedom and human dignity, rather than panicking, and dignifying and rewarding some of the world’s worst thugs.
There is perhaps some small comfort to be found in considering that ’twas ever thus. In politics, the pendelum swings. The question is what will be the cost of correcting the mistakes we are now making out of denial and fear — and what will it now take to persuade America’s natural, democratic allies that we should once again be trusted. That price seems right now to be rising by the day.
For some perspective, or perhaps a cautionary metaphor, check out the weather itself — even beyond the cold snap which has so neatly accompanied the latest eruption of the global warming debate. As today’s prophets of global warming try to terrify us into re-engineering the economy of the planet, we can be glad that in a similar panic 30 years ago over — yes — global cooling, we did not in fear act upon such absurd proposals of the hour as trying to divert the arctic rivers, or melt the arctic ice cap by covering it in soot. I’m not making that up. A friend sent round an article from Newsweek, 1975; read all about the The Cooling World.