Friday, June 29, 2007

From Whittaker Chambers to George W. Bush

From Whittaker Chambers to George W. Bush: "His heirs had settled on an immovably absolutist course, inspired by the dark vision projected in Witness: 'In this century, within the next decades, will be decided for generations whether all mankind is to become Communist, whether the whole world is to become free, or whether, in the struggle, civilization as we know it is to be completely destroyed or completely changed. It is our fate to live upon that turning point in history.' Substitute 'Islamo-fascist' for 'Communist' and it is depressingly clear how little has changed."


The result was that the actual dangers we faced from militant Islam were blurred into a generalized atmosphere of apocalyptic crisis. Essential distinctions, and the wisdom with which they were made, were lost. Yes, we are now in conflict with a grim adversary, but not with an opponent superpower, nor with anything resembling an empire, and it does no good to pretend otherwise. Not every good fight is a millennial fight. George W. Bush's worldview is precisely the one that Whittaker Chambers outgrew. It is a punishing irony, and one can imagine all too easily how Chambers himself would have greeted it: with the sly half-smile of a melancholy man who knows better.