I recently watched a british TV programme that suggested that the reach of
global terrorism had been overstated by modern day politicians to cover for
their lack of the vision thing.
The programme argued that in the past people were lead by the dream of a
better future. Now in this age of zero ideology they can apparently only
be lead by the fear of a dreadful nightmare.
Certainly the Bush-Blairite vision of spreading democracy in the middle
east was based largely on a concern that weapons of mass distruction, rogue
states and international terrorism would combine to threaten devestation.
If pollitians are in danger of becoming mere managers rather than leaders
it is not for the absense of an ideological battle.
There is an all-out ideological battle happening alright. It is in many ways no
different than that faced almost constantly since the middle ages.
The ideological battle is one for the very principle of freedom. I do not
think Bush overstated the case when he said that freedom itself had been
attacked on 9/11.
Ironically the battle for freedom is one that is as much fought in the
minds of westerners as it is in the minds of iraqis. For every restriction
of our libertys, in particular the liberty to believe whatever we want to
believe is a blow agains freedom.
facing is actually in the hearts and minds of westerners. How much do we value freedom? Enough to die for it? How much does security needs trump the need for social freedom? Do we feel its ok to twist others freedoms just a little to make our own safe? Is it OK to try and impose democracy? What about our values for that matter? Should our nations continue their march to anything goes? Or should we espouse a moral code that becomes more and more enshrined by law? One of the tests for Turkey to come into the EU has been will it make adultery legal. Is that a gift to Turkey of the west? What about other liberties? Is freedom sometimes in danger of assault from the side of Christian fundementalists almost as much as islamic ones?
The answers to these and other questions will be where the current ‘war’ will be won or lost.