Victor Davis Hanson on National Review Online makes the point that it’s all too easy to criticize the war effort from the safety of your pleasant suburban home:
My point is rather that, because we are products of an affluent and leisured West, we have a special burden to remember how tenuous and fragile civilization remains outside our suburbs.
Most of us don’t fear much from the fatwa of a murderous mullah, and few have had our sisters shredded before our eyes in one of Uday’s brush chippers — much less ever seen chemical-warfare trucks hosing down our block, as cropdusters fogged our backyards.
Instead, we have the leisure to engage in utopian musing, assured that our economy, or our unseen soldiers, or our system working on autopilot, will always ensure us such prerogatives. And in the La-La Land of Washington and New York, it is especially easy to forget that we are not even like our own soldiers in Iraq, now sleeping outside without toilets and air conditioners, eating dehydrated food, and trying to distinguish killers from innocents.
What does all this mean? Western societies from ancient Athens to imperial Rome to the French republic rarely collapsed because of a shortage of resources or because foreign enemies proved too numerous or formidable in arms — even when those enemies were grim Macedonians or Germans. Rather, in times of peace and prosperity there arose an unreal view of the world beyond their borders, one that was the product of insularity brought about by success, and an intellectual arrogance that for some can be the unfortunate byproduct of an enlightened society.
I think we are indulging in this unreal hypercriticism — even apart from the election-season antics of our politicians — because we are not being gassed, or shot, or even left hot or hungry.