Why Nancy Pelosi Thinks As She Does
By: John Perazzo
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, December 08, 2006
Every so often, a public figure will speak a sentence that succinctly sums up his or her entire worldview in just a few words, exposing the core belief that is the wellspring of his or her every position on matters of consequence. Consider, for instance, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s recent assertion: "If we [the U.S. military] leave Iraq, then the insurgents will leave Iraq, the terrorists will leave Iraq."
That sentence tells us virtually everything we really need to know about the workings of Nancy Pelosi’s mind. Though some may sneer at what they perceive to be an example of politically motivated hyperbole calculated to further discredit President Bush’s Iraq policy, Pelosi, indisputably an intelligent woman, was being quite serious; she believed and meant every word she said.
Pelosi’s perspective – and that of her ideological kin – did not develop without historical and intellectual context. It is partially rooted in a branch of liberalism that sprouted in the 18th century with the philosopher Rousseau, whose view of human nature held that “man is naturally good, and only by institutions is he made bad.” Rousseau taught that the “noble savage,” whose beliefs and behaviors were unpolluted by social customs, represented the ideal man; that the more an individual or a culture was untouched by the corrupting influences of commerce and custom, the more virtuous and innocent he was – on the theory that he was closer to “nature” and all its inherent goodness. As Will Durant once paraphrased this view, “Everything that distinguishes civilized man from the untutored barbarian is evil.” In recent decades, the political Left has concocted a variant brew of Rousseau’s original contention, equating the “noble savage” with any non-Western person or culture, and identifying Western civilization – particularly America – as the quintessentially corrosive “institution” invented by Rousseau.
Pelosi’s view is further influenced by a noteworthy perversion of the wholly laudable intellectual traits of introspection and self-examination that are the hallmarks of classical liberalism. Rooted in great movements like the Renaissance, the Age of Discovery, the Age of Science, the Reformation, the Age of Reason, and the Enlightenment, the impulse to question conventional “wisdom,” and to pursue new ways of thinking and behaving, enabled the Western world to make social, economic, scientific, and political strides unimaginable elsewhere. But in recent decades this noble impulse has been seized by the Left and, under the banner of “liberalism,” has been twisted into something bearing utterly no resemblance to classical liberalism. Rather, self-examination has given way to a guilt-ridden self-flagellation that confronts every instance of international discord by asking the same question: “What wrong have we done to so anger our enemies, who undoubtedly would like to live in peace but are prevented from doing so only by our unwarranted provocations?” The premise underlying that question also underlies Pelosi’s prediction that the terrorists will happily leave Iraq once the Americans have abandoned their allegedly insane mission and departed.
So dearly held is Pelosi’s conviction that America – rather than the Islamist impulse for conquest and plunder – is the major cause of terrorism in Iraq today, that it is impervious to the lessons of history which contradict it. We have been down this road before. In the 1970s, for example, American leftists similarly believed that the military conflicts of Southeast Asia were rooted in the "arrogance of American power" rather than in Communist aggression. Their proposed remedy: to stop further U.S. funding aimed at helping the existing governments of Cambodia and Vietnam prevent a Communist takeover. In short: to withdraw American involvement.
During that period, Jane Fonda and her husband Tom Hayden took a camera crew to Hanoi and to the "liberated" regions of South Vietnam to make a propaganda film called Introduction to the Enemy, whose purpose was to persuade viewers that once the American troops were gone, the Communists were going to create an ideal new society based on justice and equality – not unlike Pelosi’s cheery prediction that the Islamic terrorists now in Iraq will placidly leave the country once they have successfully repelled the American invaders. (Incidentally, who will create Iraq’s ideal new society? Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army? Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and the Iranian army?) The dual villains of the Southeast Asian conflicts were, in Fonda’s view, "U.S. imperialism" and "a white man's [Nixon’s] racist aggression." Hayden, for his part, organized an "Indo-China Peace Campaign" to lobby Congress to end American aid to the regimes in Cambodia and South Vietnam.
When Republicans warned that a Pol Pot/Khmer Rouge victory would inevitably result in a Cambodian "bloodbath," antiwar Democrats like John Kerry and foreign policy advisor Anthony Lake brushed their concerns aside and accused them of trying to stir up "anti-Communist hysteria." American leftists convinced themselves that Pol Pot was an aspiring liberator of the Cambodian people. In March 1975, Lake reaffirmed the Left's position that the Khmer Rouge was not a totalitarian force, but rather a coalition of "many Khmer nationalists, Communist and non-Communist," whose only ambition was to gain independence for the Cambodian people. (This is reminiscent of filmmaker Michael Moore’s assertion that: "The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not 'insurgents' or 'terrorists' or 'The Enemy.' They are the Revolution, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow – and they will win.") Lake warned that if America alienated Pol Pot and his followers, it would only "push them further into the arms of their Communist supporters." Calling for "an immediate, peaceful turning over of power" to the Khmer Rouge, Lake backed the American cutoff of support for the Cambodian and South Vietnamese governments.
After Watergate brought down the Nixon presidency in August 1974, the November midterm elections ushered in a new group of Democratic legislators who promptly voted to cut off funding for South Vietnam and Cambodia. As a direct result of this, the regimes of those nations were overrun within a matter of weeks by the Communists, who swiftly proceeded to slaughter 2.5 million Indochinese peasants in one of the most pitiable chapters of barbarism in the recorded history of mankind.
But today Nancy Pelosi – the leftist who the media depicts as a “liberal” – somehow cannot foresee anything of a similar nature happening in Iraq. In her calculus, “If the President wants to say the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror, he’s not right…The war on terror is the war in Afganistan…The jihadists in Iraq [will] stay there as long as we’re there. They’re there because we’re there.”
Pelosi’s implication seems to be that the war in Afghanistan is, in contrast to the Iraqi campaign, a justified venture because it bears an identifiable relationship to the 9/11 attackers who were backed by the Taliban. But how, then, does the congresswoman propose that America deal with the recent influx of foreign jihadists who have poured into Afghanistan from all over the Arab and Muslim world? They hail from Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and yes – of all places, Iraq. The San Francisco Chronicle, Pelosi’s own local newspaper, reports:
The growing involvement of veterans of the Iraq insurgency is a major factor behind the surge of attacks in Afghanistan – the heaviest since the Taliban government fell in 2001, observers say. Under their influence, a revived Taliban movement and newer groups are using suicide bombs and remote-controlled bombs to attack U.S. and coalition forces and Afghan civilians, instead of the Kalashnikov rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and unsophisticated land mines that were once the hallmarks of the Afghan guerrilla movement. “The increase in vehicle bombings in Kabul – that's straight-out-of-Iraq stuff,” said Brian Jenkins, an expert on terrorism at the Rand think tank. “Now Iraq is the source of the expertise, and Afghanistan is receiving.”
What are we to make of all this? In Pelosi’s worldview, the terrorists will leave Iraq as soon as the Americans are gone. By parallel reasoning, we must conclude that the foreign terrorists currently in Afghanistan will likewise leave once the Americans leave. And if that is the case, why does Pelosi not call for a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as well? Would that not be the logical course of action?
When we consider some of the recent statements made by those most likely to fill the power vacuum in Iraq once the U.S. withdraws, it becomes quite apparent that such people will neither leave the country nor abandon their burning desire to annihilate America. Below are a few of those statements. You will notice that these quotes are distinguished from those of Pelosi and the American Left by the fact that they contain not the barest trace of self-doubt, hand-wringing, or introspection aimed at figuring out what Muslim people may have done to bring about the wrath of America:
- Yahya Raheem Safavi, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander: "We must keep the hatred of America burning in our hearts until the moment of revenge arrives."
- Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Mahdi army: “I will remain in Najaf city until the last drop of my blood has been spilled."
- Osama Bin Laden, leader of al Qaeda: "[9/11 was] an unparalleled and magnificent feat of valor, unmatched by any in humankind."
- The Al-Qaeda Charter: "There will be continuing enmity until everyone believes in Allah. We will not meet [the enemy] halfway and there will be no room for dialogue with them."
- Al-Qaeda Training Manual: "Islam does not coincide or make a truce with unbelief, but rather confronts it. The confrontation that Islam calls for with these godless and apostate regimes … knows the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, bombing, and destruction, and the diplomacy of the cannon and machine-gun."
- Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah leader: "Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan is absolute. … Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America."
- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: (a) "[W]ith the support and power of God, we will soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism and will breathe in the brilliant time of Islamic sovereignty over today's world"; (b) “[America’s] doomed destiny will be annihilation, misfortune and abjectness"; (c) "The anger of Muslims may reach an explosion point soon. If such a day comes, they [Western governments] should know that the waves of the blast will not remain within the boundaries of our region and will engulf the corrupt powers that support this fake regime [Israel] too"; (d) “[B]ow down before the greatness of the Iranian nation and surrender. If you don't accept [to do this], the Iranian nation will later force you to surrender and bow down."
To Nancy Pelosi and the American Left, none of these statements are of any great consequence. Instead, the Pelosi crew places its faith in the trusted conviction that the only thing required to bring forth the inherent goodwill of all mankind – even of Islamist terrorists – is for America to humbly acknowledge its transgressions, beg forgiveness, and make restitution to whatever degree is possible.
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