Day By Day

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Wretchard's Tempest and Zeno's Paradox

Wretchard at the Belmont Club discusses the gap between the fantasies spun by transnationalists and the reality experiened by people throughout the world.

Civilization was invented so that ordinary folks could leave the tasks of vengeance and justice to a state who would presumably dispense it impartially according to laws enacted by common consent. But as states fail to do their job, and as the "International Community" gets reduced to impotence and symbolic acts by the dead weight of political correctness, a growing number of people are finding themselves living in a world of increasing anarchy. Paradoxically, the amount of real civilization in the world -- as represented by actual security and effective governance -- is declining in direct proportion to the increase in the number of filigrees and curlicues in the treaties, declarations, understandings and covenants that the "International Community" has barricaded itself with. Two parallel universes begin to coexist. An imaginary universe obsessed with Global Warming, multiculturalism, world governance and image inhabited by bureaucrats and intellectuals, and a real universe shot with poverty, rife with ethnic hatreds, chaos and inhabited by militias; with the imaginary universe pretending it is in control of the real universe.

I don't want to make too much of a single example, but I think it is reasonable to say that the international system is starved for effective action. The incessant back and forth between the United Nations and Iran over the issue of its uranium enrichment program is classic example of Zeno's paradox as applied to international affairs. Every diplomatic moment halves the distance between warning and activity but the distance, though ever decreasing, never quite crosses the line between thought and deed. We will always almost, but never quite, come to the rescue of Darfur; just as we are condemned to be forever on the verge of stopping Iran's nuclear program. The moment of action never comes; and the process of warning never ends. Kofi Annan denied having advised Iran's Ahmadinejad that he could safely ignore the Security Council's demands to stop the uranium enrichment program. In this case Annan was on the side of right, or at least of fact. He should have admitted the accusation and defended himself by claiming he was only telling the truth.

Read the whole thing here.

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