The Outstater

October 20, 2023

Monsters to Destroy . . .

TIME SPENT FIGHTING a foreign war, a decade writing editorials on foreign policy and several years as a foreign policy aide to a U.S. Senator have left me with a single insight. It applies to the inflection that we see developing in the Middle East and it is just this: Envy is always dangerous, but when it is institutionalize in a culture, political movement or a foreign policy it is calamitous.

The reason is that envy, unlike mere avarice, is non-negotiable. It does not seek a better life for its adherence, least of all in independence or liberty. It seeks only the reduction or the elimination of the envied. And unlike jealousy, it by definition rejects self-improvement. Its blame is always outer-directed.

If you listen carefully to the dictates of the Iranian mullahs, of the Palestinian Hamas or, sadly, of U.S. Democrats such as our own Rep. André Carson, you will hear it quite clearly. There is no plan to improve the lot of their own people or constituents, only a plan to bring the more prosperous and free — and, dare we say, the happier — down to their level of misery. You can call them envy regimes.

Think of it as Shakespearean tragedy. The speech this week of President Macbeth, er Joe Biden, conflated the greed of the Russian-Ukranian conflict with the envy of the Hamas-Israeli one. Those are two different wars requiring two different strategies.

But the Biden regime’s world view does not make that distinction. It is based on solipsism, what the late Charles Krauthammer would say is the belief that the whole world operates pretty much like suburban Boston.

As a result, the Biden strategy will fail. For in the Ukraine, cost-benefit analysis can produce peace. One side or the other will compare its losses with its prospects and open negotiations. “Ukraine’s fate will be decided in Kiev not in Washington D.C.,” writes the military historian Edward Lutwakk. “Having resisted bravely to win their independence irreversibly, Ukraine’s leaders must now act to end the war by offering a territorial settlement, with fully supervised plebiscites in the disputed regions.”

In the Middle East there will be no such negotiation. There, the scorpion stings the frog even though they both drown. Lasting peace can come only when one side has utterly destroyed the other. Add to that the machinations of outside forces such as the Maoist Chinese and the fundamentalist Turks, in addition to the always troublesome Russians, and nobody in the Biden White House can tell you where this will end.

It certainly cannot be held at arms length. The affinity with Hamas demonstrated at our universities, in the pronouncements of Black Lives Matter and even in Congress are not accidental. They generate from the same envy-based philosophies. There will be no negotiating with them either.

Where to from here? We’ll have to back up a few steps before we can go forward. Our colleague Mark Oetting refers us to President John Quincy Adams’s foreign policy address to the U.S. House of Representatives. I urge you to read the entire speech, but here is something to get us started in the right direction:

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her (America’s) heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.  — tcl


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