Violent Victim States and the World Order

Oddly, a major peril faced by the USA specifically, and Western Civilization generally, is not singularly external, but chiefly internal. Americans might disregard foreign affairs, however, in her case too, internal and external affairs converge so that both realms create interlocking challenges.

Regardless of liberal fantasies, the international arena has participants that are foes that count. Numerous bellicose Powers share a trait; they see themselves as victims of injustice and they exploit their past. We also discover an inclination to attribute all current inadequacies to the evil imposition of others. As often as not, this view is self-serving. Once all that is bad, and whatever that fails, is ascribed to vicious outsiders, current policy and its (dictatorial) makers enjoy uncritical endorsement.

A consequence is, as Maduro’s Venezuela reveals, that once shortcomings are credited to outsiders, the responsibility of the ruling class and of indigenous culture are explained away. Furthermore, if the outside world is responsible for what has been, for what is, and what bungling will bring about, then clumsy elites are given absolution. This forgiveness, which amounts to blaming others for falling into a self-dug pit, is a justification of dictatorship. Those that appoint themselves in the name of an abstract “people”, to rectify the wrongs of the past, of the present, and to rescue the future, will claim total power. It will be so because they become, by the logic of the stipulation, not accountable for their failures while they rake in the credit for whatever success is scored. An example are those that blame ”the enemy” for the war’s sufferings, while they credit Hitler for good “Autobahns”.

“Victim status” –earned by occupation, colonialism, low development (in non-pc lingo “backwardness”)- does not make the wearer of that halo “nice”. For one thing, even justified victim status, does not make the once abused into the moral paragon of the present. Victim standing, even if conferred by acclamation, will not, generations after the fact, guarantee decency. The condition of nations is analogous to the case of individuals. Some victims of persecution might nurture pride because of what had been inflicted upon them. It fits the case of this writer. However, even if you were only thirteen when “taken away”, any pretention that elevates one above others in the virtue-class, is unjustified. In this case, Socialism’s State Security –“the Party’s Fist”- took anyone without reason. This meant mainly the “innocent”, yet it could include any crook if classified as an “enemy” because of his “wrong descent”. Guilt had nothing to do with mistreatment, but such discrimination does not guarantee the subsequent decency of the randomly selected.

Yes, victimized communities could not control their past. However, earlier misfortune does not convert into a present virtue, nor does it follow that a current condition is fully attributable to that past. Pretending the opposite might be good voucher for a free lunch at the foreign aid counter, nonetheless, once logic is applied, it is not a convincing excuse for today’s under-performance.

With the foregoing in mind, we can explain the condition of two groups of countries. One became independent in Asia and Africa following the world war, and the other regained sovereignty after the end of the Soviet empire. The record of both shows differences that range from regression to the attainment of economic superpower status. Having been a subject of the imperialism of the Japanese, the French, and the British, or of Communism, will hardly explain the divergence.

By itself, the past does not explain the success or the failure to join the modern world; it also fails to account for the quality of governance. Clearly, independence has not inevitably produced good government, and even less so, parity with the democracy of the advanced world. Perhaps we should conclude that servitude prepares badly for freedom, and that imposed misery and exploitation is an inadequate fundament of subsequent economic success.

For the cause of institutionalized liberty and a modern economic order, the jettisoned past and the new opportunities created thereby, not decisive. Not formal sovereignty, but the culturally generated ability to convert it into a working advantage is decisive.

A complementary case emerges if we shift our full attention to the international arena in which states are brought together to coexist, collide, or to combat each other.

Victimized nations might have suffered from the morally unbound violence of larger and more advanced aggressors. Such communities might have been the casualties of the lawlessness exploited by the strong to assert its will in the anarchical society of nations. Just like exploited individuals, once unshackled, the subjugated will not automatically become economically successful, and the sufferers of violence will not necessarily become peaceful and decent. Individual or collective moral purity is unrelated to the wickedness suffered from the malevolent hand of others.

The global scene is populated by nations that exploit the bad conscience fanned by unthinking liberals. Their blame-game legitimizes the project to demolish those credited with being the victim’s enemy. That retribution is directed at more advanced societies whose success is said to be a derivate of the avenger’s exploitation.

Real and claimed past wrongs create advantages. The “we-can-afford-it” inclination of despised “rich countries” to “atone” for ancestral sins, provokes demands for entitlements and for immunity when international law is violated. Here one may insert that, the claim of being now and in the future just and moral, because of old torts, is an unhistorical claim. There is hardly a nation that has not been mistreated by its neighbors, and rare are the victims that have not, when they had the power to do so, abused their subsequent tormentors. Therefore, the claim on which profit from victimhood is based picks a favorable moment in time to justify the demand for immunity and reparations. Ritual blaming might be manipulative, however, if not unmasked, it mutates into a license validated by a fading past. Indeed, that “license” is needed because trendy ideologies not only justify violence but even regard it as “natural” and as the prerequisite of a “better society”.

“Third Worldism” is inclined to claim the privilege of not being liable for current misdeeds, while its western adherents hope to atone for the culpability of long-dead ancestors. This has security consequences. Influential circles deny the advanced the right of retaliation against the underdeveloped. Forces that control states committed to destruct a wide array of enemies, discover the “enemy’s” reduced will to resist encroachments. “You can hit me but I may not hit back” is a dangerous operating principle. Beyond proven feebleness, it emerges that harm is not countered steadfastly. After assurances of “respect”, violations are classified as being merely overly sensitive behavior, due to old sores. Hugging does not pacify thugs.

The primary enemy of those that aim to convert a currently humble status through an ideology –socialist, Islamist- into domination, is the pillar of our time’s global edifice. That places the United States in the first line of the defense of the global order. Furthermore, given her loudly critical allies’ inclination to hide behind her back, America is also the principal target of systems that pursue supremacy within their own new world order.

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