From Mark Steyn’s brilliant column today, which also contains a quick summary of the why behind the New Republic’s collapse:
[P]op-culture metaphors aren’t really of much use, especially when you’re up against cultures where life is still defined by how you live as opposed to what you experience via media. It seems to me, for example, that when anti-war types bemoan Iraq as this generation’s Vietnam “quagmire,” older folks are thinking of the real Vietnam-the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and whatnot-but most anybody under 50 is thinking of Vietnam movies: some vague video-store mlange of “The Full Metal Deer Apocalypse.”
Take the Scott Thomas Beauchamp debacle at the New Republic, in which the magazine ran an atrocity-a-go-go Baghdad diary piece by a serving soldier about dehumanized troops desecrating graves, abusing disfigured women, etc. It smelled phony from the get-go-except to the professional media class from whose ranks the New Republic’s editors are drawn: To them, it smelled great, because it aligned reality with the movie looping endlessly through the windmills of their mind, a nonstop Coppola-Stone retrospective in which ill-educated conscripts are the dupes of a nutso officer class.
Read the whole thing. E-mail it to every member of the Beltway-Manhattan media elite you can find. They need especially to read the closing two graphs:
Robert D. Kaplan, a shrewd observer of global affairs, has referred to the jihadist redoubts and other lawless fringes of the map as “Indian territory.” It’s a cute joke but a misleading one. The difference between the old Indian territory and the new is this: No one had to worry about the Sioux riding down Fifth Avenue, just as Burt Reynolds never had to worry about the mountain man breaking into his rec room. But Iran has put bounties on London novelists, assassinated dissidents in Paris, blown up community centers in Buenos Aires, seeded proxy terror groups in Lebanon and Palestine, radicalized Muslim populations throughout Central Asia-and it’s now going nuclear. The leaders of North Korea, Sudan and Syria are not stump-toothed Appalachian losers: Their emissaries wear suits and dine in Manhattan restaurants every night.
Life is not a movie, especially when your enemies don’t watch the same movies, and don’t buy into the same tired narratives. To return to that 1996 presidential race, Bob Dole, apropos Pat Buchanan’s experience hosting a CNN talk-show, muttered testily at one point, “I was in the real crossfire. It wasn’t on television. It was over in Italy somewhere, a long time ago.” Happy the land for whom crossfire is purely televisual and metaphorical. But, when it turns real, it’s important to know the difference.
This was my quarrel with Walter Russell Mead: The liberal foreign policy elites like the Manhattan-Beltway media elites, refuse to take seriously the differences between our enemies past and enemies present.