Monday, December 1, 2008

Kristol: Patriotism or Else

William Kristol says the only way to fight terrorism, such as the attacks in Mumbai last week, is with patriotism.

But if terror groups are to be defeated, it is national governments that will have to do so. In nations like India (and the United States), governments will have to call on the patriotism of citizens to fight the terrorists. In a nation like Pakistan, the government will have to be persuaded to deal with those in their midst who are complicit. This can happen if those nations’ citizens decide they don’t want their own country to be dishonored by allegiances with terror groups. Otherwise, other nations may have to act.

Patriotism is an indispensable weapon in the defense of civilization against barbarism.

In other words, unless nations with terrorists inside their borders don’t do something about them, then we will. That is certain to incite patriotism, but I don’t think in the way that Mr. Kristol envisions. The one way to ensure that a nation will instinctively demonstrate solidarity for its own identity and citizenry is to have some external threat, including the imposition of “freedom” from an outside source. If you want to see Pakistanis or Afghans come together, even in protecting villains and terrorists, tell them that the 82nd Airborne is on its way.

Mr. Kristol seems to think that patriotism — or his definition of it — is a cure-all for the ills and woes of the world, and he sneers at those who think that it might be a good idea to look for the root causes of terrorism. He seems to think that terrorism is some nebulous entity and that all you have to do is kill all the terrorists; problem solved.

As Oscar Wilde once said, “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.”