A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004 :::
A Mind That Suits does not mind deferring to someone who says something so well that it cannot be improved upon, even if it can be expanded upon. George F. Will's column this morning, It's Time For Bush to See the Realities of Iraq , indeed says what needs to be said perfectly. This writer will defer his promised comments on journalistic standards, and on defenders of Donald Rumsfeld, until Friday, so that you may ponder what Mr. Will has to say.

This much may be added, however. Mr. Will talks about the difference between neo-conservatives and conservatives, and he comes down where A Mind That Suits does, in favor of just being conservative. Which is not to say that the neo-cons did not add a vital positive tone to conservatism, a tone to counteract the pessimism of the Euro-centric, anti-capitalist "paleo-cons." But just plain conservative--neither neo nor paleo-- does it for this writer, and he would add a little history to Mr. Will's scepticism about "nation-building," which scepticism is itself founded on a firm grasp of history.

The President the other day averred that those who think establishing democracy in Iraq will be difficult were little better than racist. This is hardly true of this writer, many of whose relatives are African-American, all of whose students are foreign, and most of whose co-workers are in some way different from the stereotypical white American.

Saying that democracy does not come easy is not saying anything about particular groups of people.

It is saying something about human nature. Consider the history of democracy in European civilization:

In England, representative government and the rule of law became firmly established only after a civil war that lasted 20 years, although we have no idea how many people died.

France only became permanently unified after a civil war lasting 35 years. Two hundred years later, a revolution removed the monarchy, but the rule of law and of democracy were not firmly established until 169 years later, in 1958.

Italy was unified at the cost to the Southern Italians of a million people. That was 130 years ago, and democracy was a dicey thing there until the 1980's. The rule of law we're still checking on.

Germany was unified under a "chancellor" (Bismark), but their first decisive vote as a democracy yielded a solid win for Adolf Hitler, with Communist parties drawing many of the other votes. (Previous elections between 1918 and 1933 had yielded fragmentary governments.) Democracy and the rule of law came to the Fatherland at the cost of tens of millions of lives and the complete disarmanent of the German people.

And in the good old US of A, the Revolution was not completed until the Civil War, four score and seven years later, which cost the lives of 455, 000 soldiers, not to mention civilian casualties, which were not minor.

Democracy does not come easy.

But Mr. Will said it better.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 1:10 PM



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