21 June 2007

First, Choose An Enemy . . .

(hat tip Instapundit)

Irshad Manji has an excellent opinion piece in The Australian. It nicely illustrates the differences between the primitive-collectivist versus the liberal-individualist. The way Islam is taught in many places, is exceedingly primitive and collectivist. Manji has rejected this primitivism, but not Islam.

Being muslim need not be synonymous with primitivism. One doesn't need to parade around like good old Akthar Butt and scream for the murder of somebody you disagree with. No need to run around like good old Ahmed Angerpuss (remember him?) every time you perceive somebody insulting your religion.

You'd think these rent-a-mobs would show more anger towards people who actually kill tons of muslims like Hamas, Fatah or Al Qaeda in Iraq, but instead they'd rather demonstrate their anger with Queen Elizabeth II by destroying KFCs in Pakistan (that will show her!!).

Countries have pulled themselves out of primitivism in the not so recent past. Look at Japan. In 1852-4 they were humbled by a few American warships and were forced to open up their ports. Their leaders reacted by trying to keep to their collectivist ways while copying the technology of more individualist societies. They made massive strides in a very short time (within 50 years they went from nothing to having the 3rd or 4th best navy in the world), but the militarism and collectivism at the core of their national identity lead to decisions that amounted to mass homocide/suicide. Their attempts to dominate the Pacific lead to an equal and un-opposite reaction killing millions. But the utter defeat of the militarist and the occupation after WWII sowed the seeds for Japan to match their penchant for technology with a government system that maintained an essential Japanese-ness while embracing individual rights and freedoms. They've succeeded wildly since, managing to create an economic giant from the rubble of WWII in a matter of decades.

Can muslim countries in South and Southwest Asia avoid being reduced to rubble before embracing individualism? We would have let Japan keep China, Malaysia and Indochina had they not also attacked Hawaii and the Philippines. Their dictators believed the United States would tire of war quickly, a few large scale engagements where lots of Americans died, and America would retreat to their own borders leaving the Pacific to Japan. They miscalculated. The various jihadis and dictators today in the opposite end of Asia are making the same miscalculation. Maybe we can wear them down before we have to kill them in massive numbers. That would be the preferred path for the next 50 years. But, when push comes to shove, we'll slaughter them with less discrimination if that's the only way to preserve ourselves. You hear it often repeated by some over there that they will win because they love death more than we love life. But they forget, you don't have to love death to be really, really good at killing, you just have to threaten us on an existential level and we will embrace our artfulness.

Individualists in the 20th century have won two world conflicts by out killing the other guys, and one world conflict (the Cold war has mostly been won, still not completely over, though) by out prospering the enemy. The path the defining conflict of the 21st century takes is up to the enemy. We'd prefer to slow bleed them while the populations that give them support realize the primitive path is no fun. But, we still have the best toys, and those toys can lay waste to millions if we choose. The leaders of the enemy are hellbent on choosing the suicidal path of maximum destruction. Their people need to wise up or suffer the consequences. Collectivist need enemies to thrive. But, call us an enemy for long enough and often enough, and we'll get the hint and start really acting like one.

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