Monday, September 26, 2005

Whose values are they following?

The National Review Online reposted an article written in January 1989 on the then potential collapse of the Soviet Union. The article was written by Radek Sidorski who was just elected to the Polish Senate. The article itself details the extensive rot that riddled the Soviet empire and would lead to its collapse. Sidorski didn't pick '89 as the year of the fall, but he knew knew it was soon, and that it would fall with a sigh, not with a bang.

He posed a question to his conservative audience, how should the west manage the decline of the Soviet empire? A question there were no clean answers for but a situation the United States handled reasonably well during the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration. It has been a far from perfect dismantling, but it proceeded far more peacefully than many expected.

In considering the question, however, Sidorski raised a point that conservatives who support the current administration would have been wise to spend more time on, and should perhaps be debated anew today:
We must not fall into the conservative trap of believing that if only the Soviet Union would transform itself into traditional "Russia" everything would be well-Russia being a long-established entity capable of abiding by the international rules. By the milder standards of its time czarist Russia was also a tyranny and a prison of nations. We would be forsaking our values if we betrayed the subject nations of Eastern Europe simply because the idiom of domination changed. The attempts to suppress Eastern Europeans' national aspirations have already caused two world wars. Their future is on the agenda again now.
Then, the focus was on conservative concepts of freedom and governance. While there may be disagreements over tactics and philosophies, conservatives and everyone else agreed that ending the tyranny of the USSR was a noble goal and would obviously be undercut if they simply supplanted an imperial dictatorship with a home-grown one. [The role of the U.S. in fighting socialist and marxist movements in South and Central America were linked to this struggle by bellicose conservatives, but the origins of the U.S. proxy fights there go back as far as the origins of the U.S. itself.]

This is a perspective that could use some dusting-off in the conservative circles of today. The potential for despotic rule is great in Iraq and growing every week.

Much of the post-invasion rationalization of the war consisted of some version of, "We got rid of Saddam, didn't we?" If the final outcome is not some form of modern civil society that reasoning will seem like small compensation.

- Murphy

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