“One Pope fought tyranny with words of morality. Another Pope fights tyranny with words of reason” And The Cold Wars
September 29, 2006
The end of the Cold War brought a kind of euphoric, if somewhat undefined expectation that the future held untold promise. The liberation of Eastern Europe was the second time in a century that freedom was to prevail and the bondage and persecution of millions was lifted. We believed that our better selves would somehow find and develop a new kind of universal brotherhood. We wanted so badly for those relieved from the tyranny to create with us, a new frontier of possibilities.
In the same way that the space program served as the genesis for so many new technologies, we wanted the defense technology industries and the entire military industrial complex to reinvent themselves into a mighty mechanism that focused on the betterment of mankind. The fight for miracle cures and miracle drugs were worthy endeavors for scientists from the east and west, finally working together.
Just beyond the horizon was the miracle of real economic growth, so long denied to so many, by 5 year plans and State run inefficiencies and the denial and subjugation of the human desire to excel and achieve. Those Eastern Europeans, deprived by corrupt and inefficient economies had equal economic on equal, if somewhat more rocky, playing fields. After the Cold War, we believed we could better handle the conflicts that we would inevitably face. We were wrong- and we should have seen it coming.
For decades, we focused on liberating entire populations from the iron grip of Communism. It was inevitable that once that was accomplished, we would focus out attention on that other great oppressor, cruel and corrupt Arab regimes. It wasn’t about Islam- it never was. The relations between ourselves and other free societies, with Malaysia and Indonesia, for example, proved that.
As in the former Soviet Union and Communist bloc, the Arab world is well aware of their dysfunctional leaders and their failed governments. Unlike their equally oppressed victims of Communism, these cruel and corrupt regimes have one weapon at their disposal the Communists did not- religion. This is a very important distinction.
The liberation of Eastern Europe meant that generations of people that had no real connection to any kind of religion were now a part of our secular society. Of course in western societies, tolerance and respect for religious affiliations and beliefs are a part of our cultural mosaic. The newly liberated Eastern Europeans were different. They were not bad people of course- they just came from a place where all religious affiliations were frowned upon. Theirs was a society that made deliberate religious affiliation a barrier to social acceptance. Out of necessity, whatever religious convictions they may have had, Eastern Europeans removed religion from their exterior lives. To this day (and to their credit, we believe), there are Eastern Europeans that are completely mystified as to what bearing the religious convictions- or lack of religious convictions- of a candidate for public office, has in determining a candidate’s ability to serve in office.
Liberating the Arab world from tyranny is not the same as liberating Eastern Europe from Communism. In the same way that two very ill patients with similar symptoms may need very different courses of treatment, there is no ‘one size fits all’, when it comes to bringing freedom to oppressed peoples.
It is interesting to note that in fact, Pope Benedict is ahead of the curve on this one. Taking a lesson from his predecessor, John Paul II, he is fighting tyranny and oppression on a different front. Whereas the gentle man from Krakow fought the secularists with the ferocity of a lion, this pontiff is fighting on a different front. Benedict is confronting the evil of irrational faith by insisting that faith is not borne of irrationality, but rather, by rational and reasoned thought.
The Polish Pope that saw and lived through evil from the side of the victim, was to enable his successor, the German Pope that saw and lived through evil from the side of the perpetrator. Together and in concert, these two men, so close, were to come to understand the real and all encompassing nature of evil. Each in their own way- and because of each other- were uniquely equipped to address and fight the forces that oppress so many that are created in His image.
One Pope fought tyranny by with words of morality. Another Pope fights tyranny with words of reason. John Paul II andf Benedict XVI were the perfect ‘one two’ punch in the battle for the freedom of man.
Few Westerners doubt that the passions of our Islamist enemies are fueled by primitive emotions of envy and rage, derivatives of unreason. Yet the exaltation of reason by Western intellectuals, along with their fanciful belief that the primacy of their reasoning abilities render them free of irrationality, has brought us into great danger.
With a few words, Shrinkwrapped unravels much of the cause of our confusion as we combine two debates- how best to fight the war on terror and on how best to liberate oppressed peoples. These two realities of our time are not related- and these two realities will inevitably conflict with each other. They are two completely separate endavors. Our adversaries want us to confuse and combine the two, because they understand that in doing so, ‘two ends will be fighting the middle.’
Our efforts in fighting the war on terror and this new ‘cold war.’ to liberate the million under the Iron Sandals, will include both moral and religious components. They have to.
In A Tale Of Two Realities, Dr Sanity gently corrects Francis Fukuyama’s assertion that history is ‘evolutionary’ and cannot be stopped. She clearly sees the perils we face:
He did not forsee that the enemies of freedom, as a last-ditch, desperate measure to prevent the “endpoint” from establishing any equilibrium in the world, would resort to the complete abandonment of reason and reality altogether. And, in retrospect, it appears that from a rational and realistic perspective, there was no other course open to them except for complete historical capitulation. In order to stay alive, the enemies of human freedom–in all their various incarnations–had to abandon reason, truth, and reality because they simply could not make their case with those particular human tools.
Western nations have an important lesson to learn. Liberating oppressed peoples is not formulaic- there are no templates or blueprints- and our adversaries this time around have learned their ‘lessons,’ from our victories and from the defeat of our adversaries. We liberated much of a continent that had religion excised from it’s soul, as cruel and souless regimes degraded millions. That effort took 72 years and was by no means a simple matter. The evolution of that outcome was neither direct or clear.
Eventually, we will prevail and free the millions enslaved by cruel and souless tyrants that oppress by redefining a religion, to serve their ends. That end result too, will not come easily or come about as the result of a plan, based on our previous experiences. In fact, Fausta notes the tactics that have been successful in resisting the efforts of those who would defend fredom. She notes in The Article That May Cost A Man His Life And That Of His Family,
After receiving several death threats in the mail, Prof. Rebeker and his family have had to go into hiding. The police are taking the threats very seriously and are keeping watch of his now vacant home.
The fight to free oppressed peoples is never easy. We must be prepared to keep our resolve in the fight against tyranny, for as long as it takes- not so much for our own sake, but for the sake of those that deserve freedom.
The war against radical Islam and the wars to liberate people from oppression, are much colder than the cold wars previously fought. The Anchoress has a few thoughts on the matter and they are a worthy read. We will address her thought in another post.