2007 October 07 Sunday
Rod Dreher: Honor Or Pride At Stake In Iraq?

Crunchy Con Rod Dreher argues that those who believe America's national honor is at stake in Iraq are mistaken.

Besides, is honor truly at stake in Iraq? Honor is not the same thing as pride. Our pro-war stalwarts have confused the two, which is understandable. As British writer Dorothy Sayers observed: "The devilish strategy of pride is that it attacks us, not in our weakest points, but in our strongest. It is pre-eminently the sin of the noble mind."

Why? Because the noble soul accepts the moral duty to sacrifice oneself for a higher goal. Isn't that what surge advocates are doing? In their minds, likely yes. The trick comes in discerning whether the noble aspiration is motivated by pride or humility. Pride says that the ego can accomplish anything it wants to and that limitation is no barrier for the human will. Humility accepts finitude as part of the human condition and is unafraid to accept reality and the limits it places on what we can do.

Pride involves lying first to oneself and to others. Humility requires truth.

I think it acceptable (and even good) to feel pride at one's accomplishments. As compared to Dreher's usage of the term "pride" that idea of a feeling of accomplishment seems a more consistent usage with at least some of the dictionary definitions of "pride". I also do not think an accurate feeling of pride over past accomplishments tells us we can accomplish anything we desire to do. Pride over past accomplishments needn't lead to hubris. So I take issue with how Dreher labelled the categories in this typology. However, you can pride yourself about something you can't actually do and then refuse to admit you can't because you don't want to lose status as you admit your lesser ability and that you made a mistake. That seems to be where Bush and his supporters are at this point.

Bush and company have overestimated the efficacy of the US military. They've also overestimated the appeal of Western and, in particular, American values. They are promoting a form of liberal universalism. But, no, these values do not hold universal appeal.

Bush and his supporters won't admit the truth on Iraq (that those American soldiers are dying for no good reason) because, first and foremost, they do not want to admit they made a huge mistake. Second, and probably less important in most of their minds, they don't want to admit that liberalism (whether the pure left variety or the hawkish neocon variety or other) does not have universal appeal. They've got too much invested their wrong decisions and so we have to lose about 100 soldiers a month and have lots more come back permanently damaged in mind and body.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 October 07 12:54 PM  Mideast Iraq Exit Debate


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