My latest at The American Conservative:
Author of the landmark 1953 book The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk once observed that “Human society is no machine, to be treated mechanically.” While progressives of all stripes have always sought to restructure society according to specific liberal mechanics (socialism, feminism, etc.), Kirk believed conservatives should stress that man’s grandiose vision is no match for his nature. To proceed with their Leftist programs and big-government schemes, liberals always tend to leave human nature out of their equations, while conservatives — almost by definition — cannot afford to. This fairly conventional conservative belief would have not been the least bit controversial at William F. Buckley’s National Review, a magazine Kirk helped establish in 1955.
Unfortunately, some at National Review seem to have “progressed” from conventional conservative views concerning human nature, or as current editor Rich Lowry wrote in his syndicated column recently:
“Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab couldn’t ignite the bomb in his underwear on Flight 253 on Christmas Day. All he managed to blow up was a worldview. His failed attempt put paid to the notion that terrorism is the byproduct of a few, specific U.S. policies and of our image abroad.”
This “worldview” that was allegedly “blown up” by Mutallab is usually considered common sense when discussing any subject besides US foreign policy-namely, that when you diddle with people, they will diddle back. In ignoring Human Nature 101, Lowry seems to be saying that unlike taxation and welfare, two intrusive government interventions conservatives have long insisted affect human behavior, intervening in the business of other nations by invading, occupying or bombing them-for decades — does not elicit any specific reactions from the native population. Predictably, Lowry’s explanation for the underwear bomber’s actions is the same, lacking government narrative we’ve all become accustomed to: “Abdul Mutallab was in the grip of a violent ideology with an existential hatred of the United States at its core.”
No doubt, radical Islamic ideology was an obvious, personal motivator for Mutallab. But was it just Islamic ideology that allowed him to reach out to a wider network of terrorists to help him in his efforts?
The title of Lowry’s syndicated column, as it ran in Charleston’s Post & Courier, was “Flight 253 provides reminder of the Left’s naiveté on terror.” While Lowry is correct that the Left is foolish to ignore the religious dimension to Islamic terrorism, the naiveté on the Right is just as ignorant and even more dangerous — as too many conservatives still fail to recognize that foreign interventionism is the motivating factor behind the current terrorist threat.