Whose Lens: McCain's or Obama's?
FT columnist Philip Stephens writes:
Mr Obama describes the world as is; Mr McCain as it seemed to be during that fleeting unipolar moment. America's voters will decide in November which of these lenses they prefer to look.
Well, this voter prefers to look at Obama's lens. It is prettier and more comforting. But I knows that taking my eyes off the McCain lens will put my life in jeopardy. For the world is not as Obama describes it and Islamist terror has nothing to do with the fleeting unipolar moment. If the US and Israel disappeared tomorrow would Jihadist stop their terror campaign agaist India where they only last week they killed 80 in Jaipur in order to "blow part of your tourism structure” and, second, to “demolish your faith in the dirty mud, in the name of Hanuman, Sita [and] Ram”.?!
Stephens is not alone in his wish to make the world go away. Rather, his mood is representative of that of the liberal/leftist transnational elite that believes it found a champion in Obama. If avoiding reality means expunging the historical record and making mass executioners like Che Guevara into heroes, wannabe Hitlers like Ahmadinejad into a trustworthy negotiating partners, and putting up with a "reasonable number" of terrorist attacks as India has been so virtuously been doing, it is a price they will gladly pay. After all, what are the chances that they personally will be the victims?!
Moreover, they resent Bush for selfishly keeping terror away from America. So doing merely is increasing terror elsewhere, they argue. They also insist that war in Iraq created more terrorists and so has the war on terror as a whole. Evidence to the contrary be damned or at least covered up. For it, like progress in Iraq, will merely strengthen the hands of inconvenient realistic like McCain and his old fashioned patriotic supporters. Already, these appeasing transnational elites have succeeded in convincing the British government not to use the term "war on terror" anymore and the American government not to talk of Jihadists.
President Obama, Europeans believe will enable them to be the Swisstype free riders, another FT columnist Gideon Rachman explains Europeans so yearn to be and, indeed, already are. Moreover, Obama will not challenge the morality or wisdom of their choice. If anything, he will hold them up as the example America should follow.
The trouble, Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore notes is that reality bites:
The Swiss can feel secure because they are surrounded by Europe. The Europeans can only feel insecure because they are surrounded by an arc of instability, from north Africa to the Middle East, from the Balkans to the Caucasus. . . . . while America is protected by the vast Atlantic ocean, Europe feels . . . Islamic anger directly because of its geographical proximity to the Middle East and its large domestic Islamic populations.
In other words, the average European like the average American has reasons for feeling insecure. They have real enemies, of the kind the "annoying" McCain worries about. But do not assume that Kishore wants Europe to join the war against terror. No, he wants Europe to rely on Asia instead of on the US because Asia is will solve Europe's Jihadist problem. All it would take is patience and forgetting (at least for the time being) about such unimportant issues as democracy or human rights:
The real irony here is that Asia is doing much more to enhance long-term European security than America is. The Asian march to modernity, which began in Japan and is now sweeping through China and India, is poised to enter the Islamic world in west Asia. When this march enters the Islamic world, Europe will be surrounded by modern, middle-class Muslim states.
Hence, Europe should encourage Muslims to look at China, India and Asean as their new development models. The success of the Beijing Olympics could help to ignite new dreams of modernisation among disaffected Islamic youth, who will ask why their societies cannot prosper like China. In short, if Ms Merkel and Mr Sarkozy could think strategically and long-term, they should enthusiastically participate in and cheer the success of the Olympics. When the Islamic world is finally modernized, Europe can go back to being a giant Switzerland again.
Sounds very convincing, doesn't it? The trouble is that no where is Jihadism as strong and virulent as in West Asia. Moreover, Singapore where Kishore lives borders Muslim Malaysia and Indonesia both of which have strong Islamists movements. In other words, Asian Kishore is just as blind as European Rahman and American transnational supporters of Obama. They all deserve the "disrespect" with which David Brooks complains we treat them. For they are not real Alpha Geeks. Real Alpah geeks are mathematicians and physicists like Einstein, pacifists who do not shirk reality but write a letter to FDR warning him not to stand idly by while Hitler may be developing a nuclear weapon.
As Israel's founding father, David Ben Gurion said and as I believe American John McCain, though not Barack Obama, would second though replacing Israel with the US, national security trumps all:
I have many values I hold dear, some are Jewish and others universal. . . . I care about literature, philosophy, science and social science. But I have to confess to my narrow point of view: Nothing is more important to me than national security. If they give me a choice between the highest human ideals and the national security of Israel, I will choose unhesitatingly Israeli security and not because I do not believe in ideals but because "not the dead will praise Thee." We have the right to live and that I consider the primary right and the primary concern."
For the first time in American history we may elect a president who does not share Ben Gurion's view and that is scary.