What went wrong with the West? (5)

The third guiding principle which helped the Western World achieve unprecedented prosperity and power was patriotism. It actually has two aspects. One is the willingness to decisively confront direct threats to one’s own country or its allies using military means. The other amounts to taking pride in the values and achievements of one’s country and, in a wider sense, of the Western culture. Both aspects of patriotism came under sustained attack in the West and are now all but gone.

Patriotism understood as rising to defend one’s country and its allies was what prompted the US to confront Japan and the Nazis. The mission was taken seriously, conducted tenaciously and successfully completed. After WW2 the armies of the Western countries went to the battlefields of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. In these wars one would expect that the objective was to defeat the enemy using all means available but it was not. In Korea MacArthur proposed the use of nuclear weapons to bring the war to a swift end. His plan was scorned and he himself got relieved of his duties. In Vietnam the brief (dreamed up by McNamara) was to control rather than defeat North Vietnam. No bombing or mining raids against strategic targets in North Vietnam were allowed in the first years of the war. By the time the US situation became desperate it was too late to use the air power to land a decisive blow against the North Vietnam who had in the meantime been supplied with the Russian AA missiles. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were also fought with ridiculously restrictive rules of engagement which has led to many unnecessary casualties.

War is a nasty business and I am far from promoting it. But, if we believe that using the military is justified, the objective should be a swift and efficient defeat of the enemy. Sending soldiers in with pathetically narrow rules of engagement is akin to getting into a boxing ring with one arm tied behind one’s back. This is what the US airmen felt when they saw North Korean MIG’s flee to safety north of Yalu River. This is why the Belgian soldiers did nothing to stop the slaughter of the Tutsi in Rwanda. This is why the Dutch peacekeepers looked on when Bosnian men were being killed men and raped women  in Srebrenica. The Dutch soldiers were later awarded medals for their mission which only goes to show how confused the West is about the role of the armed forces.

The other aspect of patriotism, the pride in what the West has achieved, is these days viewed as judgmental, racist and Euro-centric. One of the tenets of political correctness is that all cultures are equal and valuable in their own respective ways. From this standpoint it is anathema to claim that the Western World after WW2 achieved the freedom, development and prosperity that others could only dream about. It is also unacceptable to state that the cultures suppressing women, persecuting gays, raining rockets on civilian populations or killing the apostates are backward and inhumane. Oh, no – we live in the times when the West is expected to apologise for various wrongs, real or imagined, while others are enjoying free reign to stone, behead and murder.

That the West has lost the sense of pride in its own values is perhaps our greatest tragedy.

What went wrong with the West? (6)


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