In the last year, many of the dreams of an emerging international elite have imploded — and this, in a new century that was to usher in a regime of global liberal ecumenism.
The lies and academic fraud of Climategate reminded us that it is almost impossible for even disinterested scientists to fathom the complex history of global climate change. But it also — and more importantly — reminded us how Western universities have turned into rigid medieval centers of intolerant orthodoxy. Our new academic monks, in their isolated sanctuaries — cut off by grants, subsidies, tenure, and cadres of obsequious graduate students from the grubby efforts of others to stay alive — have for years breezily issued all sorts of near-religious exegeses and edicts about the public’s ruination of the planet. We lesser folk were supposed to find salvation through installing windmills and junking our incandescent light bulbs under the tutelage of wiser overseers.
Meanwhile, in the last few weeks, nature did what no human industry had ever quite done — shut down much of European airspace with a huge toxic cloud. But the mess was not a DuPont emission, or soot from Eastern Europe’s network of coal plants, or any such man-caused disaster, but the work of a prosaic volcano. The ensuing economic chaos and toxic air pollution were accepted with a shrug in that they were natural and had nothing to do with Halliburton. . .
In 2009, the vision of the new Obama administration was European: foreign-policy triangulation, government takeovers of private enterprises, higher taxes, more entitlements and public workers, and always more “them/us” class-warfare rhetoric from members of a technocratic guardian class who had played the very system they were now to oversee. . .
. . . we are also seeing the unraveling of Obama’s reset-button foreign policy . . .predicated on the assumption that much of the tension in the world . . . could be ameliorated through apology, retrenchment, dialogue, public self-critique, and criticism of prior presidents.
So add it all up: the Al-Arabiya interview, the Cairo speech, the distancing from Israel, the euphemisms like “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters,” the politically correct banishment of any anti-terrorism phraseology associated with Islam, the repeated announcements of the closing of Guantanamo and the trying of KSM in New York, the strange case of Attorney General Eric Holder, who can call his own fellow citizens “cowards” but not associate radical Islam with recent attempts by Muslims to kill those fellow citizens en masse . . .
Indeed, a trait of this administration is to speak far more harshly of fellow Americans than it does of our enemies: Arizonans vote to enforce federal immigration laws, so the administration offers them up to the Chinese as an example of American civil-liberties violations. In our morally equivalent world, a government that would enforce laws against those who entered the country illegally is not all that different from a government that not long ago killed more than 40 million of its own.
If Europe is our model of soft power; if Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other autocracies are the moral equivalents of democratic Israel; if it is not radical Islam that empowered a Hasan, an Abdulmutallab, or a Shahzad; if Iran can be reasoned with to abandon its nuclear agenda; and if Russia can be flattered into acting responsibly — then the world suddenly does not work in the way it has in the past 2,500 years of civilization.
What is common to all these disillusionments . . . They all can be traced to a global Western elite that in its intellectual arrogance confused late-20th-century technological progress with a supposed evolution in human nature itself. Heaven on earth was to be ushered in by those who deemed themselves so wise and so moral that they could remake civilization in their own image — even if that sometimes meant the end of disinterested research, basic arithmetic, and simple common sense.