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The New Axis By: David Solway
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, August 22, 2008


There is no doubt that the world picture is looking increasingly bleak these days, especially for the West. In the aftermath of Russia’s unchecked invasion of Georgia and in the midst of the West’s refusal to deal meaningfully with a rapidly nuclearizing Iran, we need to ask what accounts for this de facto collaboration with our self-proclaimed antagonists.

As we have seen, the European response to these events is a panicky scuttle to broker peace treaties violated at will by the aggressor or to engage in endless rounds of diplomatic prattle that re without serious consequence. America contents itself by issuing stern reprimands minus the will or the intention of backing them up by the selective application of appropriate force or significant political pressure. What is behind this tendency to abject capitulation on the part of the Western powers?

Politically speaking, we seem to be trapped between two competing ideologies that are diminishing our hopes in a sustainable future before the growing threat of militant autocracies, whether theological or secular. These two ideologies or belief systems may be defined as a false pragmatism and a false idealism. The former envisages the exploitation of the moment for short-term profit, as for example in Germany, Switzerland, France and Austria which continue to traffic with rogue regimes rapidly going nuclear, or in the misnamed “realist” option toward political conformity with aggressive confrontation states in order to gain a temporary respite; the latter invests in the utopian delusion of a new 21st-century World Order, characterized by a universal détente among erstwhile belligerents, perpetual dialogue and peaceful coexistence with sworn enemies devoted to our destruction.

In the first case, we are observing a classic case of negative annuity as the nation state seeks to secure its advantage in the preservation of a temporary status quo at the cost of its future security. In the second, the nation-state wishes to bootstrap itself into a transnational entity where it ceases to exist altogether, placing its trust in a vague and unstable status quo postquam which seeks to overcome the presumed limitations of the nation-state in a globalizing world. In either case, the political mortgage will eventually foreclose. The respective policies of these pseudo-pragmatists and quasi-idealists among us may be very different in their implementation and substance, but they lead irrevocably to the same terminus: the convulsion, displacement or subsidence of the West’s civilizing imperative.   

The global situation grows ever more complicated and intractable with every passing day. Russia’s solidifying ties with Iran and China’s with Sudan reflect a new strategic convergence between the rejuvenated power autocracies of the Cold War era and the reactionary, Western-hating forces of militant Islam. The “free world”—which, in the light of Europe’s abdication, effectively means America—faces a prolonged war of attrition, punctuated by spells of violent conflict, on two different but intimately connected fronts, the one represented by the secular despotisms of the Bear and the Dragon, and the other by the renewed ascension of Buraq, the flying, now nuclear-armed horse of Mohammed.

Eventually the Bear and the Dragon will find themselves having to deal with the threat of the horse, but in the immediate future this coming collision of interests between the two currently aligned Totalitarianisms offers only cold comfort to America in the struggle now underway. The question is whether America will soar again in the skies it once controlled or submit to having its wings clipped and its freedom of movement confined in a geopolitical cage.

The “pragmatists” who counsel accommodation and business as usual with the enemy will assuredly taste the bitter fruit of their myopia—indeed, they already have. The “idealists” who believe in the magical results of soft-power diplomacy and a transnational collectivity are in for a rude shock as their expectations are progressively trampled on by resurgent dictatorships. We must avoid both pitfalls if we wish to emerge reasonably intact from the major conflicts that are now gathering momentum. At the same time, we must also awaken to the nature of the secular/theologic axis which confronts us.

Whether in Georgia or Iran, in the Czech Republic or “Palestine,” in Poland and the Ukraine or in Sudan and Afghanistan, or in other regions of the globe that will inevitably flare up again, what we are now facing is the disintegration of a dream, the absurdly phrased “New World Order,” which in effect was nothing more than the Old World Order in temporary remission.  We forget at our peril the unforgiving lesson of living in the real world: history never ends, nor does it “return”; it is always only beginning.


David Solway is the award-winning author of over twenty-five books of poetry, criticism, educational theory, and travel. He is a contributor to magazines as varied as the Atlantic, the Sewanee Review, Books in Canada, and the Partisan Review. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity. A new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, will be released by CanadianValuesPress this fall.


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