Rush: You talk about our geometric progression. Critics, including columnist Matthew Miller, have claimed that this was ?Bill Clinton?s military.? He writes that Bush didn?t have time to rebuild and invent and modernize all these weapons, so this was Bill Clinton?s fighting force. Clinton deserves credit for this, though the column does not cite any of these new weapon systems that Clinton proposed. What?s the answer to that?
Hanson: No, that?s not true at all. These things go in cycles. World War II was a cycle of expansion, then there was a brief disarmament, then there was the Cold War, then there was the repulsion against nuclear weapons and the Carter Doctrine and disarmament. Everybody knows that the Reagan Administration, the first Bush Administration, is where the whole military dynamism started again. Mr. Clinton cut a third of the forces. If we had to fight this Gulf War in the same way that we fought the first, we wouldn?t have been able to do it, because he?d cut so much of those traditional forces. One of the things I?m worried about is that people believe that this was just a war of technology. If you look at the caliber of this particular generation of Marines and airborne and infantry divisions, this is a very strange, very impressive generation of young kids.
Rush: When you look at the pop culture, the MTV-ization of the country, people are surprised we?re able to find this caliber of kid.
Hanson: I don?t want to be too optimistic or naive, but there?s sort of a revolution going on with students and young kids. As a professor of 20 years, I?ve noticed it. I see these 60s-retread professors who are very disappointed that their students are not ?politically aware,? which means ideological. The students are not on the same wavelength as the professors; journalists are not on the same wavelength as TV viewers; ministers are not on the same wavelength as churchgoers. It?s almost like a cultural gap across America.
The elite didn?t realize there was a revolutionary transformation going on in American society. We?re starting to see the military dividends of that in this generation, who are not afraid of the things that terrified their parents. They have sort of a pop-culture casualness about them ? Ray-Ban sunglasses, big muscles, dyed hair ? but a deadly seriousness. And there is not that Letterman-Seinfeld cynicism of that smart-ass urban elite.
Rush: Don?t leave out Maureen Dowd in that. She went after you.
Hanson: Yes, she did. I?m afraid that I went back after her. She?s a part of that same mindset: there?s no such thing as good or bad, it?s all a relative construct, depending on one?s degree of power. This generation has been so indoctrinated with all of it ? cultural relativism, cynicism, no real truth ? that to their credit, they don?t like it. It?s been a terrible blow to the Left, because when you see kids on the battlefield, black, brown, Asian, and there?s no consciousness of race, and you see a brilliant black general briefing people, then stop and think about when you go to the university, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and you have black students eating in one corner, La Raza studies over here, Asian people alone, theme or really segregated dorms, separate graduation ceremonies: the military is almost the revolutionary catalyst for American ideals, and the universities are reactionary.
Rush: Speaking of universities, the first thing that comes to my mind is this professor at Columbia who wished for a million Mogadishus. Has there been a time in American history when there was such opposition from the citadels of learning and the mainstream media to an obvious mission of good? The United Nations should have long ago undertaken the liberation of the oppressed Iraqi people. I mean, Kofi Annan should have been able to see in one trip to Iraq that all the money from the Oil for Food program was going to Saddam, and that the Iraqi people were basically in jail, prison, torture chambers. Here comes a President who wants to right this, oriented around his determination to avert a new September 11th attack. And yet there?s so much elite opposition to it. Was this kind of thing present in World War II? I know it existed halfway through the Vietnam War. But the amount of opposition Bush faced seems to me to be greater than usual.
Hanson: I think you?re right. I think all Western societies that combine capitalism, individualism, and freedom have a tendency to create a cultural elite that?s insulated from the realities of nature and struggle. That was true of Rome and the postwar French. But starting after World War II, we developed this cultural overcalass in the State Department, the universities, the media, celebrities, that, for example, didn?t really believe the Soviet Union or China was the culprit of 30 million dead under Stalin.
And with the expansion of the universities ? given the concepts of a three-class load, summers off, lifetime tenure, the granting of a million B.A.?s a year ? we created an entire industry of people who are divorced from reality and pretty much safe from what bothers most of us. They look at every historical event through the lenses of Vietnam. Now they?ve made their way up to deans, department chairs, university presidents, and they?ve set the tone. It?s going to take a while for that generation to pass.
This war is not only going to have positive effects on the Middle East, but it?s going to create a whole generation of young people with shared sacrifices. People admire those who risk their lives to protect the security of their fellow Americans. It?s a marked contrast to the ?vomit-ins? in San Francisco or ?die-ins? in the streets of Washington. But it?s going to take a while for those people to pass through the institutions and leave us in peace.
Rush: Do you think one of the objectives of the Administration is to remake the Middle East?
Hanson: I think the Administration has been unfairly caricatured as wanting perpetual war, of trying to be a puppet master to an entire region. They?re not at all. They just had a simple observation that, whether you backed anti-Communist autocrats in Saudi Arabia during the Cold War or you failed to promote more pluralistic government in Turkey, or whatever you did in narrow strategic parameters, you have problems. They came to a realization that the Arab world ? the 21, 22 countries of the Middle East ? is not democratic.
They allow a sexual apartheid. They don?t have any freedom of the press or expression. Their economies are socialistic, and they?re failing. They tell their people and media, ?You?re free to attack Israel or the United States who are the problems, not us.? We would never be in Iraq if it hadn?t been for 9/11. The question is, how do you end the conditions under which people are manipulated to kill Americans?
And I think that?s what they came up with, that you can?t have a rogue nation with access to weapons of mass destruction threatening its neighbors. But you just can?t put in a proconsul either; you?ve got to encourage a democratic consensual government. It won?t be perfect; it won?t be a New England township. Let?s hope we bypass these corrupt intellectuals and elites in the Middle East and appeal to people?s grass-roots aspiration for freedom.
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