Iran or ... Darfur?
For the left, the sin of intervention in
Kaplan quotes the Bible as it implores us not to “stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.” And while generosity and decency may motivate this honorable impulse to rescue those under siege, running the world and settling disputes in every corner of the earth is clearly an impossible burden to bear. The left, however, is not inconsistent: they want our priorities to be inverted. To the degree that we have no interest in this region is the degree that we are duty-bound to help.
In the comment section of my last post, I argued that the left has secularized the most abject altruism while the right, with its explicit commitment to religion, has retained a skepticism towards a foreign policy driven by the devotion to serving the needs of those who’s values and disposition are inimical to our interests and, indeed, in many cases inimical to our very existence. I wrote:
“Since Kant secularized abject altruism (which holds that one’s duty is to sacrifice for others no matter whom they are and what they value) it is found more on the left than the right. Prior to Kant one often read about the right to self-preservation in British philosophers from Hobbes to Locke that clearly and proudly upheld the ultimate right to defend one’s life and protect one’s family.
Kant’s duty-bound categorical imperative disparaged self-interest and the common sense notions of self-preservation to absurd extents. The moral became a commandment—to be blindly followed. There’s Kant’s well known example against lying even if a craven killers asks you where to find his intended victim. Of course, Kant throws in the improbably idea that something unexpected may keep the killer from carrying out his plan. But what sane person would not lie under such a situation? It’s not as if people will hold you as untrustworthy because you lied to a deranged killer.
Far from being an academic exercise we see this principle operative today. The left talks as if we have to wait until we’re hit by a nuclear attack. “How do you know Saddam has WMDs? How do you know Ahmadinejad will use those nukes?” (Read Steyn on that one.) The benefit of the doubt, not matter how unreasonable, must go to the enemy no matter how deranged they are. The left will tout categorical imperatives of “international law” and argue against pre-emption. However, if the purpose is altruistic, as it was in Kosovo, then all of a sudden pre-emption is fine, international law is inconvenient, and the preponderance of the evidence mandates our military action.
was motivated by defense and it is self-interest which poisons the cause for the left as it would for Kant.” Iraq
Let me now add that the right is vulnerable to the moral attacks made by the left. As D. Eastbrook points out in my comments section of the last post: “
The need for a coherent and proper self-interested foreign policy is greater than ever. We are drifting without a clear idea of our principles, the enemy’s nature, and the proper order of our priorities. Mr. Kaplan doesn't help. But neither does Mr. Bush. While both may be well-meaning gentlemen, they are bound by tacit cultural assumptions they are unable to explicate and question. We need new leadership in both word and deed.
Update: TNR continues to beat the war drum for Darfur.