Yaron Brooke's lecture tonight at Fanueil Hall in Boston was not for the faint of heart. As mentioned above, Mr. Brooke (the president of the Ayn Rand Institute, bio here) spoke about the failure of the Bush administration's democracy project for the Middle East, what its flaws are, and what strategy should replace it. The Ford Hall Forum and the Objectivist Society put on the event, which was free to the public. There was scant security for the event. I walked in off the street with one man outside Faneuil Hall merely asking me if I was there for the lecture. No screening of any sort, not even a once-over, no checking my pocketbook, no beefy guards. (I can't bring that pocketbook into Gillette Stadium for a football game!) Not too smart, given the topic of discussion and the kind of protestors it would attract. The crowd was approximately 250 people. As soon as Mr. Brooke was introduced, the demonstrators went into action. One thin, scruffy, bespectacled young man in a flannel shirt calmly walked up on the left side of the stage and attempted to put a bib or sign on Brook (I couldn't read the words). At the same time, three or four guys stood up and started singing a song which included the memorable lyrics "100,000 Muslims died, that's like Nazi genocide." They were bad lyricists but quite good singers. (Turns out they were LaRouche "movement" folks, per the first comment below.) Security was called, and the men were hustled/wrestled out the room one by one, shouting that Brook was a fascist/ Zionist/ Nazi and their freedom of speech was being denied. (How idiotic is it to scream about freedom of speech when you're disrupting someone else's speech? What maroons!) I was annoyed to have to listen to them for even two seconds, let along the several minutes it took to get them out of the room. Like I said, not enough security there. Here's my take on what Brook said:
Brook stated that the democracy project in the Middle East is not yielding the results that Bush wanted. Bush's claim that democracy speading in the Middle East would make the U.S. safer appears to be untrue. The Palestinians elected Hamas, Egyptians elected Muslim Brotherhood candidates, Lebanon has elected Hizbollah. The majority of Iraq's ruling council are members of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SCIRI) with ties to Iran;the Iraqui constitution recognizes Islam as a fundamental basis for its laws; and the party of crazyman cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr has 32 seats in the Parliament. Brook calls this a world-wide ideological movement, an Islamic totalitarianism which seeks to create an Islamic state under sharia law. As a result of the promotion of democratic elections from Bush, Islamic totalitarians have a new purpose and are gaining political power around the world. "What went wrong?"
Brook discounted the usual reasons: not enough troops, didn't secure the borders, poor training of the Iraqui policemen. Brook said it's far more fundamental: In order to defend itself against this lethal threat of Islamic totalitarianism, the U.S. must defeat its enemy totally. We must crush and demoralize the enemy, as we did in WWII. Brook noted that the Allied Forces didn't just defeat Hitler, they ruthlessly bombed Germany. Same with Japan. Our enemies were beaten thoroughly and any thought of continuing the Nazi cause was doomed. Brook says that the inevitable outcome of the aggression of Islamic totalitarianism must be their destruction. Anything less and the U.S. doesn't win. But we aren't doing that.
Brook said that one tactical option for waging such a war is the destruction and demoralization of the enemy, but Bush has never supported that kind of war. Bush's "Forward Strategy of Freedom" assumed that democracy would flower in the Midlde East. The president posed our choice as 1) democratic elections and we will be safe or 2) we will be attacked again as we were on 9/11. Brook pointed out that we are six (?) years into the war, with no end in sight. He said that Bush's idea that liberated Iraquis would embrace American ideals was wishful thinking. Brook characterizes the Middle East culture as based on tribalism, an honor-and-shame society with contempt for reason. Most Muslims in the Middle East, he says, don't like freedom or the United States. Brook asks, "Why was democracy the goal of the war, why wasn't victory the goal?"
Democracy is not synonomous with freedom, since in a democracy, majority rules. The majority puts its wishes above all else. In the Middle East, democratization allows totalitarian Islamists to assert their wishes, which takes away freedom from others. Brook said the U.S. should have decided the makeup of the new Iraqui government, as we did in Japan. Brook also criticized putting our soldiers to work in the reconstruction, building and repair of roads, schools and hospitals while our soldiers were being killed. He criticized impositions on our military to be culturally sensitive, and putting the welfare of Iraquis above the safety of our soldiers.
Brook discussed why our thinking has been so misguided and wrong in this war. He faults Bush's evangelical religious bent, as well as our PC way of thinking. It's become unimagineable to wage a war as we did in WWII. Brooks said "It's illegitimate to crush and demoralize, but it's legitimate to sacrifice U.S. lives to bring democracy to ignorant and hostile Iraquis." (Yikes, them are fighting words!) "Self service to others is good, defending yourself is bad." Our society approves of Mother Teresa, she is deemed moral, but we don't approve of Bill Gates, he is immoral because he became rich. America no longer seems to believe that we have a right to exist and that we should defend OUR freedom. Right about this time, a second group of three or four guys stood up and began singing. Didn't catch those lyrics, but they had great voices, and they were eventually hustled out of the room, with more yelling about Brook being a Nazi/Zionist/fascist. The crowd booed quite a bit at this second interruption. Brook was not bothered, and he commented that they had very good voices.
He quoted Bush, who's said that "We Americans know how to sacrifice for the liberty of others." But Brooks wonders why we would sacrifice for strangers, and he noted that there are consequences of this self-sacrifice (such as an emboldened Iran). Brooks then discussed how the U.S. strategy should shift, so that we are acting in rational self-interest (hence the sponsorship by the Ayn Rand Institute). He said that Saudi Arabia and Iran provide the economic and ideological underpinnings of Islamic totalitarianism. He called for devastating Iran, as we did in Japan, and imposing a new government there. (Yikes, more fighting words!) He said we need to leave Iran in an "unthreatening position." But there's an important precondition for achieving victory: we must know that we are in the right. We need moral confidence. We're engaged in an ideological battle and we need rational self-interest.
His talk was followed by questions and answers. Although the majority of the crowd appaluded Brook, most of the questions were hostile. One man was especially rude: "When you and George Schultz are the only people left standing on a pile of debris after nuclear war has killed everbody else, will George use a lubricant when he f*cks you up the ass?" The moderator chirped "Tony, kill the mike. Next question, please." Another woman said she was glad she came to this lecture since she was able to see a "real, live facist Nazi." Brook was not bothered in the least by these questions, he deftly used them to make his point about Campus Watch, or revisionist history of WWII, or the unreasonableness of "being nice" to people who want to kill you. A skilled lecturer.
I think that covers most of his talk. I walked out of Faneuil Hall and passed by a dozen or so Boston cops. The LaRouche folks who had been kicked out of the lecture had reassembled and were singing in Latin (I think). Who knew the radical anarchists had an excellent chorale group?