While Obama Slept

Is there evil in the world? And is this a useful way of describing despotic regimes?

What does evil mean?  A dictionary definition would state that evil is that which is immoral, wicked, harmful, injurious. And yet, for many it has religious overtones, implying that the use of that term to describe Iran, Iraq and North Korea, as in axis of evil, is somehow indicative of right wing nuts who continually try to push us to war. These are the ones who lack the sophistication of the more articulate elites, and so earn the scorn of the Maureen Dowds and the Hollywood and Washington know-it-alls.

Jay Gaskill  has referred to the events of September 11, 2001, as unambiguous evil. He has stated: 

Moral relativism can be considered a mental disorder because it impairs the very ability to recognize evil for what it is. The resulting disability is life threatening. This is why the events of September 11, 2001 presented an interesting test for the post-modern culture. 

If your mind was not yet compromised, you were able to see that attack for what it really was: an unambiguous instance of evil in the world, directed at the core values on which modern civilization has been organized. The identification of evil becomes a partial definition by example, as in "we can at least all agree that the holocaust was evil."  If you are predisposed to recognize the universal themes that are occasionally revealed in major events, the arrival of large scale evil can be a "teaching moment."

The events of 9-11 convinced me that once one actually confronts a major instance of authentic evil in the real world, the moral order of things becomes painfully clear in broad outline if not fine detail. I experienced 9-11 in Manhattan, close enough to Ground Zero to smell the dust and see the tears of the bereft in the days following. It was a profound "teaching moment."

Yet what better word than evil for the nature of the current regime in Iran, which has declared war on its own people for the crime of seeking the basic freedoms that we Americans take for granted? What better word for a regime that sponsors and assists terrorist groups including Hamas and Hezbollah, for a regime that is responsible for the bombing of American facilities in Lebanon and Jewish facilities in Argentina, for a regime that denies the Holocaust while promising to enact another one by annihilating Israel, for a regime that is racing to build nuclear weapons to facilitate the culmination of ultimate evil by the incineration of good people?

And what word shall we use for those who dither while the evil ones torture and kill?  Willful naïveté?  Lethal foolishness? Immoral cowardice?  From the moment of his inauguration, President Obama has bowed to the Mullahs in Iran, attempting to curry favor with Ahmadinejad and his associates while they torture and kill their own people.  And while the dissidents suffer, President Obama says little and does nothing.

And so the fight continues, but with the major powers AWOL. Obama pontificates, the UN ponders. Our leader believes that his charm and flowery rhetoric will calm the evil beast.  The brave Iranian dissidents, inside that nation and around the world, know better. They have first hand knowledge of what we are dealing with,  as they continue their  battle, most recently at the United Nations. Writing about the Iranian hunger strikers, demonstrating all over the world, Raymond Tanter of "Middle East Strategy at Harvard" has said,

Hunger strikes are weapons of the weak to communicate injustice to the strong. By passively inflicting self-damage, Iranian dissidents reinforce the effects of active forms of protest, such as demonstrations near the United Nations. While the UN ponders, Iranian dissidents turn up the heat by signaling willingness to suffer.

In 1938, Neville Chamberlain promised the world that we would have "Peace in Our Time". Faced with Nazi Germany, a powerful and threatening dictatorship, he got tough with small democratic Czechoslovakia. He appeased the gods of war by lopping off a piece of that hapless nation and giving it as a gift to its tyrannical neighbor. And that neighbor defied expectations by gobbling up the rest of that small nation, and then invading Poland, setting off World War 2.

Seventy years later, Barack Obama tells us that Iran shares a common goal of "peace between nations." Faced with the prospect of a nuclear Iran, and with the Iranian regime rattling sabers, President Obama gets tough with small democratic Israel. If only Israel halts settlement construction, all else will fall into line and we will again have "peace in our time". Yes we can.

Winston Churchill wrote a prescient book, "While England Slept" in 1938, about the unprepared status of Great Britain, lacking any kind of serious purpose while Hitler raced to build a military machine that would subjugate Europe.

Who will write "While Obama Slept"?