"Global Citizens" and U.S. Politics
March 18, 2008
A Canadian friend recently alerted me to an
international petition being organized by Avaaz.org, a
"community of global citizens who take action on the
major issues facing the world today." (According to
the organization's polyglots, "'avaaz'...means 'voice'
or 'song' in...Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, Nepalese, Dari,
Turkish, and Bosnian.") The petition asks "global
citizens" around the world to participate in the 2008
U.S. presidential election by signing a petition to
the remaining American presidential candidates, urging
them to repudiate recent American foreign policy,
which has "devastated the world's respect for the
United States as a global leader."
Truth to tell, casting the U.S. as the Evil Empire of
the early 21st century (with George W. Bush as wicked
Emperor Palpatine) has been made easier by American
incompetence in public diplomacy: explaining what it
is America is doing, and why, to people around the
world who must otherwise depend on the distortions of
the BBC and CNN for international news. This
incompetence has had a cumulative effect since 9/11;
the most lurid (and false) tales of American
beastliness are now taken-as-read around the world, as
are the most draconian analyses of American
intentions. Yet the problem is not simply
media-driven; it's worse.
In December, I spent two days with German social
democrats, discussing how assertive religious
conviction shapes great world issues today. It soon
became clear that my German colleagues and I were
looking at the same thing but seeing something quite
different. At the end, I felt obliged to tell my hosts
a hard truth: "Everything you've deplored in this
conference will be on the desk of the next president
of the United States when he or she walks into the
Oval Office for the first time in January 2009. That's
not a hangover from the Bush administration; that's
reality. History has put some unavoidable problems on
the global agenda, whether we acknowledge them or not.
And if we don't acknowledge them, we're in serious
The problem, for example, of jihadists who strap
explosives onto women with Down syndrome and then,
from a safe distance, create mass murder by detonating
the explosives (and the women) in two Baghdad markets.
Americans and Europeans who see the world through a
post-Freudian fog imagine that people who perpetrate
such atrocities have bizarre personality dysfunctions,
exacerbated by American foreign policy. That
instinctive reach for the psychiatric ignores the fact
that, by their own testimony, jihadists do what they
do because they believe God commands them to advance
God's cause by any means - even detonating retarded
women. The marriage of a stringent, politicized Islam
to a nihilistic cult of death poses a grave threat,
both to Muslims with a different idea of their faith's
demands and to the rest of us. That fact (which I try
to explain in Faith, Reason, and the War Against
Jihadism) isn't going to change when the American
presidency changes hands.
Classic Catholic thought on world politics was
resolutely realistic: it asked statesmen to see things
as they are, even as it insisted that things need not
remain what they are. Indeed, a classic Catholic optic
on world politics would insist that the only way to
move the world in a more humane direction is to
describe the obstacles to that progress accurately.
The 20th century ought to have reinforced this basic
truth of international public life; Nazism and
communism, after all, were not defeated because some
people hid behind the soothingly therapeutic notion
that Hitler and Stalin could be appeased.
There is, I fear, a sad moral shallowness to Avaaz.org
and similar enterprises: a politics of noble
intentions detached from the politics of
responsibility. Avowed commitments to peace and human
rights, however heartfelt, give no one a pass from
reality. And they certainly do not confer a claim to
the moral high ground. In a world in which the wicked
try to impose their will by terror and claim God's
blessing in doing so, naming threats correctly and
understanding their origins is the beginning of
wisdom, prudence, the defense of decency, and the
pursuit of peace.
George Weigel is author of the bestselling books The
Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future
of the Church and Letters to a Young Catholic.
This column has been made available to Catholic
Exchange courtesy of the Denver Catholic Register.
Prayer for all the victims of terror attacks and acts of war:
ï¿½Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. A hymn becometh thee, O God, in Zion, and unto thee a vow shall be repaid in Jerusalem. Hear my prayer; unto thee all flesh shall come. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.ï¿½
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem sempiternam.
"mohammed who???" ~GOD
Ayodhya Prasad Tripathi, (Press Secretary)
77 Khera Khurd, Delhi - 110 082
Phone: (+91) 9868324025/9838577815
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Thursday, March 20, 2008
Awaaz's global petitions
"Global Citizens" and U.S. Politics