To understand the worldwide ideological battle -- especially the one between America and Western Europe and within America itself -- one must understand the vast differences between leftist and rightist worldviews and between secular and religious (specifically Judeo-Christian) values.
One of the most important of these differences is their attitudes toward law. Generally speaking, the Left and the secularists venerate, if not worship, law. They put their faith in law -- both national and international. Law is the supreme good. For most on the Left, "Is it legal?" is usually the question that determines whether an action is right or wrong.
Take the war in Iraq. The chief leftist argument against the war -- before it began, not later when no weapons of mass destruction were found -- was that without U.N. sanction, attacking Iraq violated international law.
Whatever their feelings about George W. Bush or about attacking Iraq, for most of those on the Left, the rightness or wrongness of toppling Saddam Hussein's regime was determined by its legality (i.e., whether it was authorized by the U.N. Security Council). On the other hand, for those who supported attacking Iraq, whether the war was deemed legal played no role in their assessment of its rightness or wrongness.
To those who supported removing Saddam Hussein by force, if the United Nations did not authorize it, it was a reflection on the morality of the United Nations, not the morality of the war.
International law thus provides a clear example of the Left-Right divide. To the Left, an international action is right if nations such as China, Russia, France and Syria vote for it, and wrong if they vote against it. To the Right and to the religious, an action is good (or bad) irrespective of the votes of the world's nations. They judge it by a code of morality higher than international law.
To cite one other contemporary example, the Left throughout the world opposed Israel's 1981 air strike razing Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor, thereby destroying his ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.
Among major American newspapers, only the conservative Wall Street Journal supported the strike along with various religious Jewish and Christian groups. From The New York Times to Le Monde to your local university, there was outrage that Israel had acted against international law. It meant nothing to their judgment of Israel's action that the leading mass murderer of the time had his nuclear weapons facility destroyed with the loss of but one life. All that mattered was that it was illegal.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
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