It seems that, in recent years, the word "benighted" has enjoyed a surge in popularity among bloggers who brand their opposition as benighted. Casual use of the word often leaves me feeling a twinge of discomfort because we human beings are, by nature, a pretty darn benighted lot. When I hear the word used casually, I automatically slow down to reflect on just who it is that presumes to tag others with this all encompassing derogatory judgment.
Surely, some human beings are less benighted than others, so I don't entirely object to the use of the word. For example, I'm untroubled when I hear it spoken by someone I know, from personal experience, to be both wise and appropriately modest. When I'm confident that the speaker understands that the word benighted is a relative description, I hear it without feeling abused by arrogance. I must confess, though, that when a blogger refers to some person or group of individuals as benighted, in many instances, my gut says that the word serves fundamentally as an arrogant affectation that leaves the blogger and the blogger's least enlightened readers feeling superior to anyone who doesn't see things their way.
My sense is that these bedaylit folks derive a sense of moral superiority and political certainty from the belief that they alone are the sighted ones in a dark world. Nowhere does this casual use of the word strike me as peculiar quite in the way it does when it comes out of the mouth or from the pen of a nonconservative describing those who don't buy into the neocon assessment of world affairs.
On Monday, I posted a link to neocon William Kristol's latest attempt to explain what is happening in Iraq to the rest of us. Why anyone would continue to listen to Kristol is beyond me. Like his fellow neocons, the guy has been dead wrong --repeatedly.
Then, there is Victor Davis Hanson. Hanson strikes me as a man infatuated with his own intellect. Like an infatuated lover, he only sees the flawless projection of his own sense of perfection embodied in the image of his beloved. The rest of us are like skeptical family members and friends left to watch the unfolding disaster.
The president reviewed the history of disarming Saddam Hussein, and reminded us it is not pretty: violation of the 1991 armistice accords, obstruction of U.N. resolutions, sanctions, and inspectors, a record of aggression, hatred of America, and a propensity to abet and engage in terrorism.... [W]ar nonetheless has come due to the 12 years of U.N. dereliction and the moral cowardice of the world--a policy of appeasement that nearly ruined the 20th century, but in an age of frightful weapons would surely result in global suicide of our own.
The fact is that U.S. Marines will find more deadly weapons in the first hours of war than the U.N. did in three months. And by day two the world will have forgotten Dominique de Villepin and be listening instead to Tommy Franks, who will practice a different sort of diplomacy. Get out of town in 48 hours sounds tough — but not when it results in liberation, rather than subjugation, and reconstruction instead of destruction.
Critics have claimed that Mr. Bush has backed himself into a corner; it is hard to see how when his promise was democracy and freedom for a tyrannized Iraq. We should not underestimate the power of his message of human liberty or the need of overwhelming force to ensure it. The EU, the U.N., NATO, the European street, the American Left, and a host of others, by failing to understand the post 9/11 world and its requirement to neutralize Saddam Hussein, have unnecessarily put their perceived wisdom, prestige, and influence in jeopardy — and with the liberation of Iraq they all are going to lose big time.
Now the battlefield, Thucydides's harsh schoolmaster, will adjudicate what talk cannot. The only question remaining is not the ultimate verdict, but to what degree the past failure of allies to support the United States emboldened Saddam Hussein, cost the American military tactical surprise, complicated logistics, and needlessly raised casualties.
I think Messrs. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, when this is all over, will have done a great favor to millions of Iraqis and provided Americans increased security, but I don’t expect that they will win any popularity contests for all their efforts. Don’t expect that Walter Cronkite, Arthur Schlesinger, David Halberstam, Susan Sontag, and a host of others who predicted a nightmarish “hornet’s nest” and American diplomatic catastrophe in Iraq to admit their error. (ital. added Dr. X) More likely, such critics will commit a trifecta of hubris and misjudgment by predicting further endless terror to complement their past gloomy prognostications about the Taliban and Saddamites.
Maybe Hanson has admitted his error since he wrote these pieces. I don't read him enough to know. In any case, I have the sneaking suspicion that any contrition doesn't extend as far as offering public apologies for smearing "Walter Cronkite, [the late] Arthur Schlesinger, [the late] David Halberstam, [the late] Susan Sontag, and a host of others who predicted a nightmarish 'hornet’s nest' and American diplomatic catastrophe in Iraq."