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April 10, 2007

HuffPo Blogger Gives Left What's What On Iraq

Tish Durkin seems to be a reasonable liberal. Here she reads the unreasonable lefties the riot act. Though she also vows she'd give righties the same treatement were she addressing war supporters, at least the left gets to hear this for once.

She questions their patriotism: she calls them out for actively praying for defeat and American military and Iraqi civilian deaths.

Maybe it's just the contrarian in me, but it is these other things that I feel the need to stress, especially to those who are now reveling in their rightness about the war. Those who opposed the war seem to feel that they are the perfect opposite of those who sold the war - and of course, in the important sense of the invade-or-not-to-invade question, they are. But in their collective allergy to any fact that may complicate their position; their proud blindness to the color gray, and their fervent faith in their own infallibility, the two sides have always struck me as very much the same.


I know that these anecdotes will sound as if Karen Hughes or somebody paid me to cook them up, but they all really happened: The day I met Riyadh, he told me what he had been doing before the war. He and his family would sit around and listen to underground BBC radio. And if the French or somebody else in the U.N. seemed to come up with something that would offer the world a glimmer of hope that war could be avoided, their reaction was not, "thank God." It was: "Oh shit."


It's easy to rewrite a very complex story as a dark fairy tale that begins and ends with the evil of Bush and Cheney. This, presumably, is why so many people are doing it. But it's still wrong.


Finally, what depresses me, and makes me despise so much war criticism even when I agree with it, is that so many of those positing it seem so happy about what's gone wrong. They seem to relish the probability that Iraq will get worse and worse so that they can be righter and righter.

This isn't new.

I remember an anti-war activist who was staying in our hotel in Baghdad, who had not come to Karbala for that first ashura. A good person trying to do good things, she had stayed behind to prepare a media alert on the horrors of the occupation -- which, especially at a time when the coverage out of Iraq was largely very upbeat, was a very worthy thing to be doing. Still, one thing really bothered me about her. When, upon everyone's return from Karbala, the activist heard that the day had actually been free of violence, and full of jubilation, she looked as if she had tasted a bad olive, and spit out her response: "Oh, fuck."

How she must be gloating now. Reality has made sages of the most dire prophets. It's perfect: Iraq really has gone to hell, and the demon neocons are the ones that sent it.

Like liberals - and thinking conservatives, and sentient beings -- everywhere, I gravely doubt that the troop surge - so little so late -- will do anything to save Iraq. But for the sake of the Iraqi people, I sure hope it does - even if that helps the Republicans.

Read the whole thing. One point she makes, which I'll just paraphrase as I've quoted so much, is that lefties' simplistic fantasies about Bush/Cheney being the root of evil neatly disobligates lefties from thinking very hard about war -- when is it necessary, under what circumstances, what actions may a tyrant take to revoke his cherished national sovereignty, etc.

By simply repeating the mantra "Bush, Cheney, neocon, Halliborton, blood for oil," liberals answer the above questions with childish reductivism: Just elect someone who's not pure evil like Bush, and all the thorny problems of war and peace go away.

The comments are fairly predictable. In between liberals claiming of course they root for America in its wars are other liberals claiming they've been forced to root for America's enemies... by Bush and the right, of course, who are also guilty of making them treasonous in thought. Here's one guy:

I agree that there are some anti-war activists who want to see Iraq get worse and worse -- this is certainly childish and counterproductive. The thing is, I can't blame them.

The American left has been so traumatized during these past six years (or even the past 26 years) that many of us have stopped caring about what's going on in the outside world. It's a luxury we simply can't afford right now. An entire generation of leftists (myself included) have been 'partisanized' -- we've been forced to look at the world in purely political/Machiavellian terms because the stakes are so high at home.

In short, blame Rove, Bush, Gingrich and Reagan for destroying the political center in this country and forcing liberals to fight for justice AT HOME instead of abroad.

He allows the left are partly to blame, and then offers the curious assertion that the left is no stranger to self-criticism. If only. But then he concludes, of course, that he simply has no feeling left to care much what happens in Iraq, because the "war" at home so dominates his emotions.

Merely rooting for one's enemies (without taking tangible treasonous action to aid them) may not actually result in any real-world ill. Of course our enemies know there is a large-ish fifth column in America who are essentially their stateside cheering section, and those cheers both boost our enemies' morale and reduce that of our own troops, but a lefty can claim that that is a natural consequence of Bush's warmongering and so is hardly their fault. (That is, after they got done denying every premise and sub-premise of the statement.)

But whether this praying for American death and defeat actually has any consequence besides the inevitable corruption of the spirit, it does, inarguably, make it rather difficult to take the left's criticism seriously. Serious criticism -- constructive, reasonable criticism -- would start with the premise that it is important for America to win (or at least not lose as badly, if indeed that is inevitable) and offer suggestions as to how to accomplish that.

But the left does not start with that premise, even if they claim they do. They actively desire an American defeat, to defeat Bush politically and to chasten the American people so that they do not make war on a kite-flying sovereign peaceful murderous tyranny again. So it's a bit impossible to have any real give and take with them -- it woud be like a football coach asking his opponent what his best strategy might be. Obviously, the opponent is not going to give him a straight answer to that question, because he's invested in the first coach's defeat.

Nearly as invested, in fact, as the left is in American death, defeat, repudiation, and humiliation.

More Patriotism! This commenter was all for deposing dictators... until Bush tried it:

I had always wanted America to be the world's policeman; sending in troops to depose dictators of all stripes, then a diplomatic corps to re-build government and infrastructure. To allow the people of sudanburmarhodesia wherever, a chance to determine their own fates.

Naive, yes. But it wasn't until Bush tried what I dreamed of that I realized it. The truth is, I did not want Bush to get the credit if it worked.


The fact is that the left has always made very idealistic noises as regards foreign policy -- usually as a club to bash the US with for so much as tolerating corrupt tyrannies, as if we had to the power to advance foreign countries' politics by a full milennium and make them all democratic and peaceful and just.

They were idealistic, at least in cant, that is, until Bush and his warmongering neocons championed idealism. Then suddenly they became Kissingerian realpolitikers overnight.

Except when they're not, of course. The left still criticizes the US for dealing with nasty regimes like Sadui Arabia and Pakistan. What, precisely, are they suggesting? That we invade those countries as well? What, exactly?

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posted by Ace at 02:25 PM

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