Buckley is utterly addled, as usual. This time around, he deigns to lean down from Parnassus long enough to call into question the bona fides - as he himself might phrase it - of Bush's war. But he does it in language so garbled, and by means of arguments so deranged, that it's pretty hard to take him seriously. For example, take a gander at this bit of cleverness:
When you dwell on the incapacity of the grand armies of Japan, Germany and Italy to drop a single bomb on the United States mainland in four years, you get some sense of the magnitude of Osama's operation.Actually, when I dwell on incapacities, I'm far more likely to dwell on the incapacity of conservatives - even those so rapier-keen and penny-bright as Mr. Buckley - to formulate an honest argument. Let's take a closer look at this pretty conceit. Buckley's assumption is that what we in the Peanut Gallery have been lacking these last few years is "some sense of the magnitude" of 9/11. Ever a river unto his people, he proposes to give us just that...by comparing the failure of the Italians to drop bombs on the White House during World War II, to the ability of Al-Qaeda to hijack our own airplanes and fly them into buildings. If there's a more glaring example of incommensurability...it'll probably be found in a future column by William F. Buckley. Now, then:
The president of the United States sprang into action and declared war on his own authority.On the contrary, Bush's authority is one of the few things that's flourished under his years of misrule. Oh, wait...that's not what Buckley meant. He just phrased it badly. Sorry!
I have to add that phrases like "sprang into action" have always bugged me; to spring is by definition to act, and one wouldn't say "he leapt into movement." But that's by the by. As Buckley was saying:
The administration has urged the public to view Afghanistan and Iraq as a common place, fit for retaliatory war before they get around to launching another 9/11.Putting aside the sheer awfulness of his language, Buckley's not...quite...how shall I put this?...correct. The Iraq invasion was not advertised to the public as retaliatory; it was called "pre-emptive" or (more accurately) "preventative." That, in itself, gives the lie to the argument that Iraq and Afhganistan could be viewed as "a common place" (and what a weird phrase that is; does anyone edit this man at all?).
Although we conquered Baghdad, we have not quelled the anti-Americans. On top of which, we came to lose sight of just what it is that has provoked them to anti-Americanism.Can you believe this defeatist talk? Someone needs to get on the horn with this doddering old bag of bones and inform him that the terrorists hate our freedom. Of course, Buckley's main points are correct: we're engaged in a phony war, undertaken for phony reasons against an undefined enemy, and there's no end in sight. I honestly do appreciate his pointing this out, even if his method of doing so makes Dutch Schultz's last words seem downright lucid. But check out this remarkable finale:
We should all be ready to go to war to defend Christian individualism and the separation of church and state, but who all is pressing this point beyond western endurance?Don't you wish you could wash hogs like that?
Buckley's question is meaningless on its face, of course. But I ask you, ladies and gentlemen...if it did mean something, what would that something be? Any guesses?