So I was going to ignore D’Souza’s apologia pro libro suo (with apologies to Newman), but I happened to come across part IV (!) of his apology and read this amazing line:

So why the bellicose attacks against me? Consider the difficulty now faced by some American conservatives. The right-wing strategy based on the “clash of civilizations” idea first proposed by Samuel Huntington has proven intellectually short-sighted and politically a failure. This is what is so hard for these conservatives to digest.

As Rod Dreher has pointed out about Huntington’s thesis, Huntington was not proposing that we have a clash (that is more Michael Ledeen’s area), but that civilisational difference was and is such that these clashes are likely and the flashpoints of the boundaries between civilisations will be the ones that will precipitate larger, more intractable conflicts because they will be rooted in strong cultural differences than cannot be obviated by political maneuvering, ideological sloganeering or the promise of economic globalisation (this is my synopsis and paraphrasing, but I believe this is the general idea).  These are enduring differences that will cause conflict–foreign policymakers need to understand this and adjust accordingly to the new world.  On this and other things, neoliberals of The New Republic and DLC schools and neocons have absolutely failed to adjust, because they don’t even understand the question, because they are still bound to old formulae appropriate to twenty or forty or sixty years ago, and because they are so far removed from understanding their own civilisation, much less are they aware of what motivates others.  Few who acknowledge the reality of these differences want full-on war with another civilisation (indeed, some of us are even more opposed to such a conflict than those oblivious to the deep-rootedness of these differences), but they do recognise the incompatibility of the “values” of different civilisations. 

The final D’Souza installment actually shows what is so especially funny about Andrew Sullivan’s ludicrous, lengthy attempt to pin D’Souza’s thesis on the rise of “fundamentalism” on the right and the theocon takeover of conservatism: not only does Sullivan show himself to be absurdly overcommitted to the thesis of his own bad book (which I skewer here), such that he is compelled to declare D’Souza an arch-representative of the logical conclusion of a movement that now despises and rejects both D’Souza and Sullivan, but D’Souza in this last installment reveals himself to be a kindred spirit with Sullivan in their common penchant for whiny self-importance and total disregard for the possibility that they experience universal contempt and repudiation because they are wildly, horribly wrong about everything.  No, instead of facing up to that possibility, they think they are enduring the suffering of far-seeing thinkers who challenge rigid orthodoxies and worn-out structures–every criticism is the knout of the oppressor coming down, every voice of opposition an inquisitor coming to take them away to be burned.  To put it mildly, they are both equally mistaken about a great many things, albeit not quite the same things. 

In their common confusion about what conservatism is and what conservatives today represent, they are actually much more like one another than either would care to admit.  The movement has had a bad habit of casting out people who are far better conservatives than the people doing the casting out, but when even the outcasts declare that you have fallen into the ditch of moral and philosophical error you have really had it.  D’Souza has enjoyed much more toleration from his colleagues than Sullivan because the former still supports hegemonic foreign policy and all its terrible works, while Sullivan has at least managed to come around (albeit rather tardily) to seeing the Iraq war as a grave error.  The oft-repeated canard that he did so because of Bush’s opposition to gay marriage, which is not true, would actually be more admirable in a way, since it would at least have been based in some kind of commitment, and certainly more so than the obvious opportunism and ship-abandoning rat act that it really was. 

Amazingly, D’Souza holds that Huntington’s thesis has proved “intellectually short-sighted and politically a failure” at the very moment when even more people on the right who likely had reservations about or objections to Huntington’s ideas are beginning to say that he was really onto something.  If Huntington is one of the “winners” of the Iraq war, so to speak, then D’Souza and, well, Wolfowitz, Bush, Frum, Bennett, Krauthammer, Hanson, Ledeen, Kristol, and Fukuyama, etc. are all obviously the losers.  No wonder that D’Souza should take a shot at Huntington in his final installment, since he must know that Huntington’s thesis of powerful, significant cultural difference between rival civilisations makes the very idea of ecumenical jihad that D’Souza proposes so ridiculous that it will be almost impossible to believe in ten years’ time that anyone ever seriously proposed it.  To say that Huntington’s thesis has been a political failure is to believe that it has been applied to policy somewhere and found wanting, when all of the current administration’s policies to date have been based on the assumptions that there is not only no necessary conflict between different civilisations but that there aren’t even really different civilisations as far as fundamental “values” are concerned.  You don’t attempt to bring freedom and democracy to a people you regard as basically alien to the “values” of your civilisation–you do this only if you believe in an historically ignorant universalism in which all men not only yearn to be free (which might be true, but is irrelevant) but also in which all men are equally capable of acquiring and know how to possess liberty.  No one could want “tribe or religion or whatever” more than freedom!  Oops.