Sunday, October 22, 2006

What is a Conservative?

The Gideon Rachman at The Financial Times reviews Andrew Sullivan's new book "The Conservative Soul" (HarperCollins).

As reviews go it suggests that the book is a rambling and somewhat disroganized work with some interesting insights, particularly to Europeans. Rachman said he had considered the power of Fundamentalist Christianity in America to be over-blown, so Sullivan's documentation of the extent of the Xtian Right takeover of the Republican Party rather surprised him. I also found the following interesting:
Sullivan sees considerable similarities between Islamic and Christian fundamentalism – in their claim to “know the truth”; in their disgust with modern western society, particularly over sexual issues; in their absolute distinction between the saved and the unsaved; in their belief in an impending apocalypse. He argues that 9/11 was particularly dangerous, because it provoked a confrontation between Islamist and Christian fundamentalism:

[Quote from Sullivan]"The absolutism of one almost inescapably triggered the absolutist tendencies of the other. 9/11 became for the president, his second ‘born-again’ moment…the born-again presidency redefined itself entirely in terms of fighting an abstract enemy, easily conflated into a single entity, readily accessible to the fundamentalist psyche: evil."
I find that a very interesting insight into both how the Bush administration operates and why it has made many of the specific errors it has made. It also argues for a much greater influence by Bush himself and less control by Cheney in overall goals.

Also it becomes more clear to me why Diplomacy has so little function in the Bush administration. If you are an absolutist who "Knows the Truth", how is it possible to take your opponents seriously and negotiate with them as equals? You're right and they're wrong. What's to negotiate?

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