Oh Dear, We're Arguing
And it's a good thing. All those who want us to shut up and get on with it are missing the gravity of the crisis--domestic and world-wide--the lack of reliable guidelines, and the prospects, both glorious and truly alarming. Thank goodness for the dissenters, both the ones I agree with and the ones I think are nuts.
Yes, we're confused. It is altogether right that we should be baffled. We don't have clear guidelines, and history--which in any case is rarely a reliable guide to the future--is no longer studied by most Americans, so even potentially useful models from the past aren't part of our discussion.
Take national security, for example. The whole world is in turmoil, as it has been for some time. Nobody can remember what the Cold War was like, and if you want an historical model for the current small-wars-headed-for-bigger-wars-and-then-maybe-a-world-war, try to sort out the pre-World War I map of Europe. Then notice how much today's Middle East resembles the old Balkans.
The one "lesson" that should be clear is that when people declare enmity, and are actively moving against us, we should take them seriously, assume they mean it, and act accordingly. When jihadists, whether sweet-talking Iranians or mean-talking Sunni or Shi'ite fanatics, chant "Death to America" (as the Iranian Parliament did over the weekend), and send vicious killers into Iraq (where the slaughter is greater than in Syria), Syria, and various African countries, we must act against them.
If we don't, things will only get worse, more Americans will be murdered, and the chances of a really big war will increase.
Inaction--masked by "negotiations" which provide cover for our enemies to get even stronger--is now our official policy.
Maybe we'll yet get a useful debate that will lead to better policy. There's a lot going for us, from our enemies' internal ruptures (intense fights inside Iran, race riots in Moscow and China, wild slaughter in Syria and Iraq) to surprising initiatives from Saudi Arabia, which threw an unprecedented hissy fit at the UN.
The world yearns for American leadership. A genuine debate would make that obvious.
Bring it on. We need it, big time.
Here at home, the Left has taken over, and has imposed statism pretending to rescue the poor, while cynically empowering and enriching the political ruling class. I can't remember anything approaching the degree of corruption in today's Washington. It goes hand in hand with the incompetence and narcissism of most of our "leaders." It's a bit surprising that the corruption isn't more obvious, but that is due in large part to the reluctance of the "opposition" to open a can of worms in which they spend a lot of their own time. Peter Schweizer continues his excellent work in this field , and it's still a target-rich environment.
In my opinion, this is a large part of the explanation of the intensity of the attacks on the likes of Lee and Cruz. Our rulers, like their counterparts in big business, like huge government programs, for two understandable reasons: it makes it easier for them to eliminate their smaller, more creative competitors, and it generates payoffs and kickbacks for themselves and their allies.
There is one possible line of productive attack: use the powers of the states to experiment with different kinds of solutions. Several states have stayed out of the Obamacare fiasco. Perhaps they will work out methods for better health care programs. The current mess provides hope, and there are state leaders who seem to get it.
At the same time, we need an all-out war against corruption, from NSA to IRS to Homeland Security to HHS. And corrupt leaders, whether elected or appointed, should be driven from office.
It's a big fight, at home and abroad, and calls for civility (of the sort Jeb Bush and Karl Rove keep muttering) are entirely out of place. We need a raucous, no-holds-barred debate to clarify the tough, painful and risky policies we must embrace--and be ready to change over and over again when we discover their shortcomings--if we're going to win.
And we must win.