terça-feira, janeiro 06, 2004
How The West Will Win And Continue To Deny It
Artigo de Mark Steyn no Sunday Telegraph
Two years ago, in The Telegraph, I suggested that the massed ranks of naysayers predicting doom and gloom for America should make a New Year's resolution to stop doubting George W Bush's resolution. Alas, they failed to heed me, and as a result the traditional New Year predictions column is a mite trickier than it used to be. Never mind events that have not yet occurred: we now live in a world where there is no agreement on events that have already happened.
For example, last year I thought the Americans won an amazing military victory in Iraq; the European media, by contrast, thought the Yanks were bogged down in a bloody Vietnam-style quagmire from which there was no escape save ignominious retreat.
I reckon Colonel Muammar Gaddafi abandoned his WMD programme because he didn't want to wind up like Saddam; the BBC, Reuters and Co figure it is because he was terrified Jacques Chirac might fly in for a state visit and hit on his wife while he was distracted by Dominique de Villepin reciting highlights from his recent volume of poetry. [a propósito vejam o post do Valete Fratres]
I predict that this trend will continue throughout 2004. In November, after Howard Dean, the Democrats' Mister Angry, gets trounced in the Presidential election, the BBC's Washington correspondent will declare that the Bush landslide represents a devastating setback for the Administration and is said to have left the President "badly shaken". For those of us in the real world, the Bush victory will be seen as a victory for Bush.
In other words, this time next year the Democrats will be deep in recriminations about how they wound up as the party of elderly feminists and greying peacenik professors in a few upper-middle-class college towns, plus the blacks. The key question is whether they can hold off starting the bloodbath until after Election Day.
Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart will be acquitted, but their fellow wealthy celebrity Saddam Hussein will end the new year being measured for his new bier. The Celebrity Catch of 2004 will be Mullah Omar. In autumn three years will have passed since the late Osama bin Laden's last public appearance. This will be evidence to Bush-bashers of how brilliantly he continues to elude capture.
How many assassination attempts will be made on General Musharraf? Half-a-dozen at least. I hope he survives them all, but presiding over one of the most worm-ridden props of the War on Terror (Saudi Arabia's the other) is a dicey business and he is approaching the point in the Pakistani non-electoral cycle at which either exile or death beckons.
Even more numerous attempts will be made to kill the European Constitution, but it will survive in increasingly slippery and dishonest form. By year's end, the Afghans and Iraqis will be nearer their final constitutional settlement than Europe. No loya jirga will be as fractious as a Euro-summit, and Iraq will be the least ill-governed state in the Middle East.
Those do-gooders who fret about "lawlessness" and "insecurity" in Baghdad would be better off turning their attention to the United Kingdom: the demand of Radio 4's Today listeners for the entirely reasonable right to kill burglars reminds us that there are huge electoral rewards for a party willing to liberate the middle-class from Britain's social decay as Mrs Thatcher did from its economic decay. Whether Mr Blair is the man to tackle this is doubtful.
At a time when the French, Germans, Russians and Japanese face far more dramatically insuperable problems, Britain can claim to be, in combined military, economic and cultural projection, the world's Number Two power. Mr Blair, the one man the interminable diplomatic dance pre-Iraq was intended to bolster, is instead (as some of us predicted) the one leader permanently damaged by the delay. The principal long-term beneficiary of that damage will not be a Tory.
As for the US elections: what will be this year's last-minute pre-election "October surprise"? Even if one takes at face value all their "claims of responsibility", the fact is that in the last year al-Qaeda has done nothing much except kill Muslims, in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, even Iraq.
I am all for corporate diversification, but this seems to have come at the expense of the jihad's supposed core business of killing infidels. They surely have to do something this year, and if they retain any capability at all they will want to do it before the election. As Mrs Thatcher well knew, we have to be lucky every time, the terrorists only have to be lucky once. Right now, even if they're a bunch of inept losers, they're overdue for their lucky strike.
On New Year's Eve, round about midnight if I remember correctly, I found myself explicitly addressing the biggest question facing us in the year ahead: "Should auld acquaintance be forgot/ And never brought to mind?" And if by "auld acquaintance" you mean Jacques Chirac, Kofi Annan and Co, then the answer seems clear: yes, indeed, they should be forgot. The year's end is an artificial divide in the great sweep of history, especially when you consider, as we sensitive multiculturalists often do, that for our jihadist friends it is not even the year end at all.
This December nevertheless usefully highlighted the two choices facing the West. On the one hand, Saddam was captured by US forces. And on the other, just as Democratic presidential candidate Wes Clark was hailing the Hague war-crimes tribunal as a model of how to cope with your typical genocidal dictator, Slobo got himself elected to the Serbian Parliament, in part because of that interminable trial and all the pathetic showboating by that Italian prosecutor.
Whatever its success in managing the realities of the Cold War stalemate for 40 years, the international order manifested in the UN, the Hague and other institutions seems increasingly ill-suited to the challenges of the new century. Even if it wasn't anti-American, it's useless.
You can't wind up the UN, but you can let it wither, and find, as the Americans and British did with Libya, ways of bypassing it that will eventually ensure it is hardly ever brought to mind for anything of consequence. That's the way to measure the health of the world in 2004.
posted by Miguel Noronha 5:34 da tarde
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