Thursday, March 12, 2015

Power knows not shame

Thucydides wrote: “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” An imbalance of power is preferable to equality to negotiate favorable terms. It’s incumbent on moral authority to use its power as a force for good, not denigrate it as President Obama does in the vain pursuit of the equality of nations.

Five years after the president said this in Prague, Putin took eastern Ukraine by force, understanding fully the West’s unwillingness to fight, and ISIS stormed across an Iraq that had known peace for a little while before the U.S. Army pulled out:

We are here today because of the Prague Spring—because the simple and principled pursuit of liberty and opportunity shamed those who relied on the power of tanks and arms to put down the will of a people.

We are here today because 20 years ago, the people of this city took to the streets to claim the promise of a new day, and the fundamental human rights that had been denied them for far too long. Sametová Revoluce—(applause)—the Velvet Revolution taught us many things. It showed us that peaceful protest could shake the foundations of an empire, and expose the emptiness of an ideology. It showed us that small countries can play a pivotal role in world events, and that young people can lead the way in overcoming old conflicts. (Applause.) And it proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon.

Tell that to the 80 million Chinese Mao murdered, or the 6 million Jews the Nazis killed, or the millions of Ukrainians Stalin starved. A lot of good their ideals did for them in resisting evil. They could not very well fight for what they believed, for good or ill, unfed and unarmed.

Ideals are nothing without determination and sacrifice. Ideals must be powerful enough to inspire lack of self-regard in the use of force. Without force, ideals get crushed, because power knows not shame.

There are bad ideals that bad people act on, with nationalist and religious fervor. They have to be defeated. Obama thinks he can defeat them in a debate among equals in standing, that people naturally choose peace, love, and understanding when they’re given the choice. The Arab Spring proved that notion wrong, once and for all.

Obama understands the usefulness of power. You can tell what is important to him from reading what he actually uses his power to do. For example, Conn Carroll writes:

[Bernie] Sanders sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Friday identifying a number of executive actions he believes the IRS could take, without any input from Congress, that would close loopholes currently used by corporations. In the past, IRS lawyers have been hesitant to use executive actions to raise significant amounts of revenue, but that same calculation has change in other federal agencies since Obama became president.

Obama’s preferred option would be for Congress to pass a corporate tax hike that would fund liberal infrastructure projects like mass transit. But if Congress fails to do as Obama wishes, just as Congress has failed to pass the immigration reforms that Obama prefers, Obama could take actions unilaterally instead. This past November, for example, Obama gave work permits, Social Security Numbers, and drivers licenses to approximately 4 million illegal immigrants.

So, he knows how to fight for what he believes. Pointy-headed idealism is just a cover for his powerlessness against evil. Liberalism is bloodless and weak. Because liberalism puts stock in worldly comfort at truth’s expense, as a civilizational cornerstone it cannot make sacrifices to face down an enemy, for it lacks selflessness and a claim to ultimate truth.

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