Friday, March 16, 2007

Gandhi and the Global War on Terror

Gandhi's understanding of economics was less than impressive. Autarky was lunacy for pre-WW2 Nazi Germany as it lost the benefits of trade but, as they were expecting a major war, at least got them used to the isolation war would impose. However, India's one attempt to take on a country its own size, China, proved its army rather feeble. No one seriously expects Pakistan to cut India's trade links so that danger is not really a risk India faces. India effectively inflicted upon itself a mild version of what the Royal Navy imposed upon Germany in the First World War.

Fred Thompson, writing for the National Review, highlights just what it means to take Gandhi's approach in foreign policy:

"And that's a pretty good question. At what point is it okay to fight dictators like Saddam or the al Qaeda terrorists who want to take his place?

It turns out that the answer, according to Gandhi, is NEVER. During World War II, Gandhi penned an open letter to the British people, urging them to surrender to the Nazis. Later, when the extent of the holocaust was known, he criticized Jews who had tried to escape or fight for their lives as they did in Warsaw and Treblinka. "The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife," he said. "They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs." "Collective suicide," he told his biographer, "would have been heroism."

The so-called peace movement certainly has the right to make Gandhi's way their way, but their efforts to make collective suicide American foreign policy just won't cut it in this country. When American's think of heroism, we think of the young American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, risking their lives to prevent another Adolph Hitler or Saddam Hussein.

Gandhi probably wouldn't approve, but I can live with that."

A stopped clock is correct twice every day. It seems possible Gandhi was just lucky that the one time he had a position of leadership he was fighting a power unwilling to crush his non-violent resistance with military force. Or did he simply extrapolate from his moment of success to all manner of very different situations? Was his judgement that clouded by solipism?

1 comment:

Gracchi said...

Yes I think he also wasn't that interested- focused on India rather than on the problems of the world. Its always struck me that Gandhi was more interesting as a spiritual leader than a politician with practical solutions to the world's problems. He seems to me to have more to say about ethics than about politics or as you point out economics.