Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Battle of Big Ideas

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Mark Steyn's writing is so routinely on-target and so superbly crafted that it's hard to pick which excerpts to share. His latest is in The Spectator, entitled "The Right Side of History." The subtitle: Mark Steyn admits that he’s been wrong about a lot in the past three years — but not about the big things. Here's a taste:

Islamism, with its plans to destroy America, take back Europe, colonise Australia and set you up with 72 virgins, may be bonkers but it’s a big idea. And you can’t beat it with a small, shrivelled idea like another decade or three of Mubarak or Assad or some such. The Bush administration decided that the only big idea they had to sell was liberty. The Europeans and the Europhile US media mostly scoffed. They’d been here before. Back in the Cold War, the Americans were able to use the phrase ‘the free world’ without irony; the French, Germans and even the British never were. This time round, the media assured us that what Iraqis wanted was not freedom but ‘security’. They didn’t all go as far as Rod Liddle, pining for the smack of firm Saddamite government, but they subscribed to the same general thesis: freedom is some airy-fairy illusion; in Saddam’s day, the streets were safe and there was no crime, apart from the ones he was committing. All wrong, as wrong as the ‘brutal Afghan winter’ and all the other media fictions. On 30 January, Bush’s big idea squared off against the head-hackers’ big idea — you vote, you die — and we know which one the Iraqi people chose, and which the rest of the region, to one degree or another, is following.
You simply must read the whole thing.

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