Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I never bought into my generation's belief in the moral equivalence between America and her enemies. In the postwar period, the US was plainly a better country than China or the Soviet Union. Geo-political lines may have been blurred since 1989, but America's hat, for me, looks battered yet still basically white. This, however, has never been an easy position to maintain. America's global PR has always been terrible, never more so than now. Pro-American intellectuals I know are in despair over this. The Iraq War was lost on day one when it became clear that it was just a shooting war - there was no visible sign of the necessary hearts and minds campaign that was a prerequisite for victory. Such errors confirm the easy anti-Americanism of my coevals, the lazy assumption that, between our ally and her enemies, there is a fatal symmetry. All of which is inspired by the curious symmetry between these two stories: in Iran high speed internet access has been banned apparently to thwart Western influences and, meanwhile, the US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has been speaking of people's ability to 'radicalize themselves over the internet.' Chertoff is not banning anything, of course, but there is something deeply stupid about his remarks. To anybody, like me, who partially lives online, warning about the dangers lurking on the web is like putting a health advisory on oxygen - of course, it causes cancer, but we're stuck with it. As fatal symmetries go, this connection between Michael and the mullahs is a very small thing. It is just one more ounce added to the very heavy burden carried by America's friends. But, well, hey, he ain't heavy, he's my.....Brother?
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 4:46 am