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On the Other Hand, If You Want to See Moral Preening

Check out this authentic-frontier-gibberish from Bernard Henri-Levy:

From these three certainties, considered together, arises a clear obligation: aiding and strengthening, with all our might, the Iranian civil society in revolt. We have done it in the past with the USSR. We eventually understood, after decades of cowardice, that totalitarianism, in its eventual state of putrefaction, was only strong from our weakness. And we discovered how to organize links of solidarity with the dissidents who ended up defeating the system. There is the equivalent of these dissidents in Iran. We are discovering that they are even infinitely more numerous and powerful than they were during Soviet communism. We must support them. We must encourage them. Obama’s “outstretched arm”? Could it be extended to the youth–the honor of a people that produced Avicenne, Razi, al-Ghazali, Kasifi, and so many others? Such are the stakes.

I like comic books as much as the next guy, but most Marvel fare is more sophisticated than this. First, BHL is so caught up in his enthusiasm for the Iranian demonstrators — and I can sympathize with him there — that he forgets to specify what in the world he might mean by any of his urges for “support,” nor does he consider whether the Iranian resistance wants the United States on its side. As for his historical memory, how exactly was the Soviet Union only “strong” because of our “weakness”? Does that mean anything at all? It hardly needs to be said that in most cases of genuine freedom from Soviet tyranny, U.S. and western forces were peripheral actors at best. This is an awfully solipsistic view of the end of the Soviet empire. Matthew Yglesias peels back the veneer:

This whole line of thinking is an enormous insult to the people who actually put themselves on the line for freedom, oddly under the guise of respect for those who are doing so now.

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