Quotable (#7)

Win-win isn’t always on the menu, Walter Russell Mead reminds us:

What Obama’s belief in the possibility of deals with countries like Russia and Iran leaves out is that some countries around the world may count the reduction of American power and prestige among their vital interests. They may not be hampering and thwarting us because we are unnecessarily and arbitrarily blocking their path toward a reasonable goal; they may be hampering and frustrating us because curbing our power is one of their central objectives. This is not necessarily irrational behavior from their point of view; American power is not a good thing if you hate the post-Cold War status quo, and it can make sense to sacrifice the advantages of a particular compromise with the United States if as a result you can reduce America’s ability to interfere with your broader goals.

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How Terror Works

The primary motive of terrorism is to draw media attention to the perpetrators’ grievances.

When Western media cover a terrorist incident, they reflexively focus upon the perpetrators’ grievances.

Coverage of this kind isn’t about terrorism. It’s an organic component of terrorism.

ADDED: Kaiser Kuo makes an important point: “… people are for the most part writing and talking about the situation as though it’s happening in complete isolation, as though the rise of radical Islam in the rest of the world since the 1980s doesn’t figure in.”

ADDED: US State Department does the right thing.

ADDED: Gordon Moore: Has the Global Jihad Reached China?

ADDED: Some righteous indignation from People’s Daily Online: “There was extensive evidence at the crime scene to leave no doubt that the Kunming Railway station attack was nothing other than a violent terrorist crime. But regardless of this evidence, some western media organizations were unwilling to use the word ‘terrorism’ in their coverage. CNN’s report on March 3 put the word ‘terrorists’ in quotation marks, and offered the view that ‘mass knife attacks’ are ‘not unprecedented’ in China. The intention here was to associate this terrorist incident with a number of attacks that occurred in 2010 and 2012, all the more disgusting because these attacks happened at schools, they were conducted by individuals who were clearly mentally disturbed, and their victims were children. None of the perpetrators had any political connections, or any political motives. The Associated Press report used the term ‘described by the authorities as’ to qualify their use of the word ‘terrorists’. The New York Times and the Washington Post called the terrorists ‘attackers’.”
— Lessons in basic decency from the Chinese media (you’re welcome).

The Fascism that Won

Calling somebody a fascist tends to be a great way to end a conversation. First on the Left, and more recently on the Right, the abuse value of this term has been eagerly seized upon. Insofar as such usage merits the attribution of a ‘logic’ it is that of reductio ad absurdum — an argument or position that can be identified as fascist by implication is thereby immediately dismissed. Fascism is analyzed only as far as required to stick the label on the other guy.

Among the reasons to regret this situation is the veil it casts over the triumph of fascism as the decisive historical fact of the 20th century. While the defeat of the core ‘fascist’ axis in the Second World War left the ideology bereft of confident defenders, reducing it to its merely abusive meaning, it also fostered the illusion that the victorious powers were essentially ‘anti-fascist’ — to the point of extreme military exertion. The historical reality, in contrast, is described far more accurately by dramatic convergence upon fascist ideas, from both Left and Right, as exemplified by the ascendency of pragmatic nationalism over radical collectivism in the communist world, and by social-democratic state-managerialism over laissez-faire ‘classical liberalism’ in the West. With calm discussion of this ‘third-position’ formation rendered next to impossible, the crucial attempt to understand its socio-historical specificity is diverted into sterile polemics.

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