Thursday, May 27, 2004

Neo-conservatives, global warming and victims of communism 

...don't have much in common (although I'm sure that somebody could come up with a great conspiracy theory linking all three) except I've noticed these three good opinion pieces today.

Zachary Selden writes about "What Europe Doesn't Understand: Neoconservatism is neither neo nor conservative. It's just American":

"There is a pervasive sense that American foreign policy is being driven down a radically new path by a small band of ideologues who have virtually hijacked the policymaking process... [The reality is] that certain individuals associated with the neoconservative label have been particularly articulate in expressing a set of policies that flow from two ideas that resonate deeply in American public opinion. The first is a belief that the United States has a responsibility to spread its vision of individual liberty. The second is that the primary and perhaps exclusive task of the federal government is to protect its citizens from external threats."
Despite a strong isolationist streak in American culture, the United States has always been a messianic nation. Europe, embarrassed about its own past overseas forays, has trouble understanding why anyone else would want to bear the proverbial "white man's burden" nowadays (minus the racist connotations), and what's more, be proud of it.

The "skeptical environmentalist" Bjorn Lomborg trashes the Hollywood blockbuster "The Day After Tomorrow", pointing out some not very sexy reality:

"For the cost of implementing Kyoto in just one year, we could permanently provide clean drinking water and sanitation to everyone on the planet. Yet it is unlikely that [the film's director] Emmerich will cast Brad Pitt creating sewerage systems in Kenya for his next glamorous movie. Nor is he likely to tell us the tale of governments investing in malarial vaccines or global conferences removing trade barriers.

"Yet these are the stark options that policy-makers face every time they spend a dollar destined to ease human suffering.

"In an ideal world, we would be able to achieve everything - we should halt global warming and eradicate corruption, end malnutrition and win the war against communicable diseases. Because we cannot do everything, we need sound reasoning and high-quality information to defeat the hysteria of Hollywood."
Hollywood, which seems to be increasingly living in a world of virtually unlimited film budgets, doesn't seem to understand that the rest of us have to prioritise our resources. Lomborg has also touched on Hollywood's blockbuster mentality, which deems sufficiently important only those real world issues that can be turned into great films with lots of fancy special effects. While you're at it, check out Lomborg's new initiative to turn the world's attention to real environmental problems.

And John J Miller writes about an idea whose time has finally come:

"The centerpiece of the new World War II Memorial here--set to open formally on Saturday--is called Freedom's Wall. It bears 4,000 gold stars commemorating the 400,000 Americans who lost their lives in the conflict. 'Here we mark the price of freedom,' says an engraving.

"Nearly two miles to the east, on the other side of the Capitol, there soon may rise a memorial that marks the price of tyranny--specifically, the 100 million people said to have died during the Cold War. If a federal planning board approves the site in July, the Victims of Communism Memorial finally may have a home at the intersection of Constitution and Maryland Avenues, NE."
In case you forgot, communism was another misunderstood ideology that the American military-industrial complex spent years and countless lives and trillions of dollars fighting, before it decided to impose its neo-imperial vision on the Middle East and torture some prisoners.


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