“We can all thank Mayor Giuliani for stating the case for civilization in its most elemental terms: “We’re right and they’re wrong. It’s as simple as that.” The mayor has a well-documented penchant for concealing information, however, so I think it’s important to fill in some details. Presumably, the greatest exemplars of civilization are the “first world” industrial powers, so we can look to their foreign policies with confidence that they will instruct us in our highest values. Here’s what we learn:
“We are right to consume the world’s resources in vast disproportion to our population. We are right to reject international treaties or organizations any time they displease us.
“We are right to force other governments to harm their own people as a condition of economic assistance. We are right to arm, bankroll and support authoritarian governments or fanatical guerrillas for temporary advantage, regardless of their motivations or the probable long-term consequences.
“We are right to bomb civilians and destroy the supply lines and infrastructures that allow them to live, while leaving their governments intact. We are right to pursue vendettas against other governments by killing their people.
“We are right to refuse to examine our conduct in the world, insisting that we can do no wrong.
“The list can be improved, but the point remains. When we defend civilization, we ought to know what we’re defending.”