“Christian Realism” — even Christians ought to struggle with David Brook’s latest invention. How delightful to juxtapose other-worldliness and practicality! But to really understand it, replace “Christian” with “love” and “Realism” with “War.” Meaning, “I love war, but I wage it only out of love.” It’s almost a self-parodying confirmation of Nietzsche’s critique of the human capacity for turning aggression into “love,” with Christian love as his prime example:
In my view, Dante was grossly in error when, with an ingenuity meant to inspire terror, he set that inscription over the gateway into his hell: “Eternal love also created me.” Over the gateway into the Christian paradise and its “eternal blessedness” it would, in any event, be more fitting to set the inscription “Eternal hate also created me” — provided it’s all right to set a truth over the gateway to a lie!
For what is the bliss of this paradise? . . . We might well have guessed that already, but it is better for it to be expressly described for us by an authority we cannot underestimate, Thomas Aquinas, the great teacher and saint: . “Beati in regno coelesti”, he says, as gently as a lamb, “videbunt poenas damnatorum, ut beatitudo illis magis complaceat” [“In the kingdom of heaven the blessed will see the punishment of the damned, so that they will derive all the more pleasure from their heavenly bliss.”]
For David Brooks, such reversals fit his standard recipe for praising the opposition: it’s not enough merely to agree with a policy or like a speech; one must incorporate it into one’s sanctimony. In this case, Brooks likes the pro-war speech Obama gave while accepting a Nobel Peace Prize. Therefore, it is an example of Obama’s profound decency. Profound decency, in turn, means engaging in precisely the policies that liberals would thing of as inhumane by cloaking them in the garb of tough love, democracy-spreading war, etc. Further decompose such conservativism into its religious rationale: there is evil in the world, and it must be opposed. We must take Christian love to mean war, not peace!
Add to this the pleasure of one particular bit of aggression towards those Godless Europeans — that of using a Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to justify war. But again, turn this hubris on its head and remind us that combating evil requires super-Obaman humility. And just as Obama imposed it on the Swedes, this humility can be imposed on entire countries — in its institutional form, as Democracy — at the point of a sword: Democracy is “the only system that fits humanity’s noble yet sinful nature.”
So you see, when we wage these wars we may not be forceably converting Muslims to Christianity, as Michelle Malkin would have us do; but it all comes to the same thing. Democracy just is an institutional expression of Christianity. Freedom-wars just are “Christian Realism” … just are holy war.