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May 24, 2006

Liberal Columnist Richard Cohen Notes Left's Inconsistency On Iraq and Dafur

Quoted at the Weekly Standard's blog:

For many who supported going to war in Iraq, the nature of the regime was important, even paramount. It is disappointing that this no longer gets mentioned. I suppose the handwriting was on the wall when Michael Moore failed to mention Hussein's crimes at all in his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11." Years from now, someone coming across the film could conclude that the United States picked on the Middle Eastern version of Switzerland. Now, all the weight is on one side of the moral scale.

But what would have happened if the war had actually ended back when George Bush stood under that "Mission Accomplished" banner? The U.S. combat death toll then was 139. (It's now approaching 2,500.) Would it have been worth 139 American lives to put an end to a regime that had murdered many thousands of its own people and had been responsible for two major wars? After all, aren't some of the people who want Washington to do something in Darfur the same people who so rigorously opposed the Iraq war on moral grounds? What if we could pacify Darfur -- immense, arid and without population centers -- at the cost of 139 American lives? What is the morality of that? Two hundred thousand have already died there. Should we intervene?

Pardon me for raising the question without answering it. I do so only to discomfort, if I can, some of the people who are so certain of their moral righteousness when it comes to the Iraq war. I want to know why the crimes of Saddam Hussein never figure into their thinking and why it was morally wrong -- not merely unwise -- to topple him....

Cohen provides a good recap of Saddam's crimes, but says the trial is obscuring his barbarity, not illuminating it. This is unfortunate but unavoidable. We know Saddam ordered more murders than we can prove he did. Being a trial, we have to focus on what we can prove, not what we know. Hence, the trial focuses on lesser outrages perpetrated by Saddam because there is strong evidence of direct orders from Saddam himself.

The post also quotes a National Geographic dispatch from "Camp Slayer," where forensics scientists work to document the the murder-factory that was the Saddam regime:

"As you work with the victims, especially the children -- their clothing, the baby bottle, the little shoes, just like the ones we bought for our daughters years ago, the little hands, so expressive in death -- you have to try not to get into the heads of the monsters who did this, or it becomes overwhelming. You look at a perfectly knitted baby bonnet with two bullet holes in it, and you think, these could be your own kids," [said an American forensic scientist]. "The women often had children with them and received, perhaps, the blessing of being shot once at close range. All of this is based on clear evidence, not speculation."

It is strange, but here's how liberals think:

If there is a strategic advantage to America taking military action against a corrupt and murderous regime, we must not do so. The mission may be justifiable on moral grounds, but the possibility that America herself will gain from taking the action taints it too much to even comtemplate.

Meanwhile, if there is absolutely no possible selfish national-security benefit to be gained for America, the left is pretty comfortable with putting our soldiers in harm's way. Haiti, Bosnia, Dafur. Each of these presents a strong case for intervention on moral grounds alone-- without any appreciable strategic benefit to America. As there is no chance that America may benefit from such interventions, the left supports risking our soldiers' lives and limbs to intervene.

They're so fearful of Enemy America that they would rather innocents suffer than so much as risk America gaining in some way from a use of force.

Thanks to Jack Straw.


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posted by Ace at 02:18 PM

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