David Frum, Norman Podhoretz, and World War IV?
David Frum is the author of five books, including two New York Times bestsellers: THE RIGHT MAN: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush (2003), and co-author with Richard Perle of AN END TO EVIL: What's Next in the War on Terror (2004).
Frum is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and writes a daily column for National Review Online. He contributes frequently to the editorial pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as the Great Britain's Daily Telegraph and Canada's National Post. He appears regularly on CNN, Fox News, and the BBC. In 2001-2002, David Frum served as a speechwriter and special assistant to President George W. Bush.
David Frum: Whenever I hear that formula I think of a story my father-in-law tells. When my brother-in-law was a young boy, my father-in-law was summoned to the elementary school, and the teacher said, "Mr. Worthington, we're very worried about your son, Casey. We want to show you some of his art work."
And the first picture is planes and tanks and fighter bombers and explosions everywhere and it's labeled War World I. And then underneath that there's a second one, and it's the same kind of scene and it's labeled World War II.
And my father-in-law says, "Well, he's drawing World War I and World War II."
And the teacher says, "Mr. Worthington, just a moment," and flips it over and there's World War III, World War IV, World War V, World War VI, all the way, I think, through World War XI. And the teacher said, "What do you make of this?" and my father-in-law said, "Casey's an optimist?"
I don't like the World War IV formulation [in the book World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism by Norman Podhoretz], I think it's too dramatic, and I think it both overstates and understates. It offers you a vision of a much more explosive level of violence than we face with this threat from Islamic extremism where the most remarkable thing over the past half dozen years [i.e. 2002 to 2008] is how this threat has really been contained.
With every passing year the terrorists plots we discover are less sophisticated, less capable, how the terrorists are being forced in upon themselves, prevented from communicating.
And we are never going to be immune to the lone nut Virginia Tech person who glorifies himself by imposing suffering on others. But you can prevent him from finding associates. And we're getting better and better at that.
At the same time, I don't like it because it also understates what is expected of people, just how chronic and difficult this problem is going to be. We have, what is it, usually estimated a billion, or a little more than a billion, in the Islamic world, probably about a fifth of them are to some degree sympathetic to these radical ideas, are open to this kind of violence, maybe only a tiny fraction would actually do it themselves, but they're open to it.
That is a big chronic problem that is going to really shape the policies of the 21st century and there's not going to be some parade day where that problem goes away.
And holding out that hope and making it seem like this is a three-year problem or a four-year problem or something within the scope of war, I think is not a healthy or helpful way to talk.
Question: How do we engage the 1/5 you say is open to violent ideas?
David Frum: Well, in the end the solutions really aren't up to us. The Islamic world is in the midst of attempting to make the transition to a more modern way of life, depending on whether they're successful or not; and this trend towards extremism and violence is a product of that transition.
In some ways, terrorism is one way that some people in the Islamic world try to become modern. They develop this new ideology that goes as much to Franz Phenault as it does to the Koran.
So we have to take protective measures. We certainly want to promote economic development; we want to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of states and groups; we want to promote the spread of democratic ideas because you want to give people better instruments for expressing their grievances. But in the end, this is going to be their decision.
And it's not fated that every group of people make a successful transition from poverty to prosperity. Sometimes you get stuck and you get stuck for a long time. Societies can fail for a long time. Look at China, probably one of the most advanced societies in the world in the 1450s, and then it gets stuck in stagnation and internal violence and has these terrible bloodlettings in the middle of the 19th century, the 1860s, and then again in the 1900s. And you can just get stuck and that may be the fate of part of the world, and our ability to make a difference there, not zero, but not overwhelming either.
Recorded on: May 5 2008
That formulation is too dramatic.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
A little goes a long way.
- Rethinking what exercise is can help you frame how you move throughout your day.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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