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  xSaturday, March 01, 2003

'liberal hawks'


CalPundit Kevin Drum has this to say about a Weekly Standard column expressing annoyance--get this--about folks on the left--like Drum--who lean toards support of the war but refuse to worship at the altar of Once Again Bush Gets It Exactly Right. Personally, I'm far from convinced--especially in light of wildly exaggerated earlier claims by this Administration and its sympathizers--that Iraq poses a sufficient threat to justify an invasion. But on top of that, I share the reservations Drum expresses:
As I recall, Republicans mostly spent their time muttering conspiratorially during the 1990s whenever Bill Clinton suggested taking a harder line against Iraq, and we all know that Rumsfeld and Cheney were busy buying and selling vast quantities of goods and services to Iraq during that period. Nor were Republicans exactly at the front of the parade when NATO finally took action in Kosovo. So I'm not quite sure how it is that these were the guys who saw the light before all the rest of us on the subject of using American military power for the greater good of humanity.

And just for the record, my complaint with Bush is primarily that he has prosecuted this war so cynically and incompetently. He blatantly timed his Iraq campaign for electioneering purposes, thus destroying any hope of getting a true bipartisan consensus on the matter; his disdainful treatment of Europe destroyed any chance of support from the populations of those countries; his complete indifference toward the Israel-Palestine problem destroyed any hope of getting support from the Arab world; and his unwillingness for six straight months to commit himself to a multilateral post-war rebuilding effort has made the entire world believe that we are intent on building a latter-day Roman empire — a laughable idea that either of our previous two presidents could have put to rest with a single speech.

Even in the best case it would have been hard to organize worldwide support for this war, but Bush's contemptuous tone toward enemies and allies alike and his unwillingness to engage in anything resembling true coalition-building has made it far harder. This war may be something that needs to be done, but we will be paying the price for George Bush's incompetent handling of it for years to come.

Bush's incompetent handling of the ramp-up to his desired confrontation with Iraq seems likely to cost the US far more in American lives, money, international prestige, time, resources, antiterrorism efforts, and credibility than even their most optimistic projections can justify. Even if one acknowledges that the Iraq situation demands attention--and I've never denied that--there's little reason to trust Bush to do it. Some prefer the comfort of viewing this situation as obstinance among the skeptics. But the tragedy is that Bush has had more than a year to present something other than ominous speculaton, unsupported assertions, half-baked theories, disingenuous associations with 9/11, and demonstrably false accusations, and has conspicuously failed to do so. An alcoholic, too, will blame others when they no longer tolerate his or her excuses and lies. But in each of these cases, the fault is their own.

One more thing: I must refute the column's assertion that "the objects of your scorn--even that notoriously "flighty thinker," George W. Bush--were right about Iraq months or even years before you saw the light." This Administration has tried on any number of justifications to sell its cherished war, while all along pursuing the objective they brought with them into office: regime change. Simply because some accept, however reluctantly, the necessity of dealing with Saddam, or feel that Bush's recklessness has painted us into a corner in which we have few options--does not at all support the assertion that most people embrace the neocons' odious notion that the United States should wage unprovoked war on anyone the Administration doesn't like. In my view that outlook is wrong, and remains so even if and when the United States defeats Iraq militarily. I fervently hope the lessons on how wrong that notion is do not rain down too harshly.

(via The Agonist)





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