May 10, 2004

All Quiet on the Middle Eastern Front

Perhaps you've noticed a lack of posts here on Iraq lately. That's kind of weird, as I've been a critic of this war and especially the administration. The past month, though, has gotten me so incredibly sick about the situation that I have trouble getting my thoughts organized coherently for a post. The past week, with the release of photos from Iraqi prisons (did you realize these pictures are several months old?) may mark a serious setback in not just Iraq, but in the entire war on terror, a setback we haven't even begun to comprehend.

I'm not as shocked as many Americans might be about these abuses. I've read Chomsky and Zinn, I know the difference between talk of our high moral principles and our actions. I also know without a doubt that America is the greatest country this world has ever seen, and my love for what is truly good about the US is what compelled my opposition to the Iraq war. Many partisans have said that this four year Bush administration will hurt American credibility all over the world for decades to come. I tend to dismiss this kind of strident talk, but now I'm not so sure.

I figured I'd post because I found this essay (via Kos) that said so much of what is inside me, begging to be screamed from the rooftops. I'm going to excerpt a part that really resonated with me, but promise me you'll read the whole thing.

There is a struggle against terror, injustice, illiberalism. It is real. It will be with us all our lives. We must fight it as best we can. The people who backed the war in Iraq, especially the people who backed it uncritically, unskeptically, ideologically, who still refuse to be skeptical, who refuse to exact a political price for it, who refuse to learn the lessons it has taught, sabotaged that struggle. Some of them like to accuse their critics of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Right back at you, then. You bungled, and you don?t even have the grace or authentic commitment to your alleged aims to confess your error.


I regret it because I and others like me helped the blindly naive Wilsonian proponents of the Iraq War to caricature their critics as Chomskyites all. The Bush Administration had its fixation on WMD; Andrew Sullivan, James Lileks, Michael Totten and a supporting cast of thousands had a fixation with "the loony left". That allowed them to conduct echo-chamber debates with straw men, in which the proponents of the war were defenders of liberty and democracy and opponents were in favor of oppression, torture and autocracy.

Small wonder that they won that debate.

That's so right, and gets to a major frustration I have when talking about a lot of progressive values, not just the war. I realize it's a weakness in my ability to communicate, but it seems as if people are willfully entering only either/or arguments which completely disregard real life. Being against this war does not mean being objectively pro-Saddam rape rooms, much as pro-war people would like you to think. Being for clean air regulations does not mean being anti-economic growth. Pro-choice does not mean pro-8 month old fetus skull crushing. I purposely don't go after all the ridiculous things that conservatives say or do because I understand idiocy, especially among entrenched politicians, has nothing to do with ideology (though I certainly admit it's satisfying to play gotcha at times). I'm getting off topic here, so just go read the essay I linked.

Posted by Bil at May 10, 2004 03:33 PM | TrackBack

I read the whole essay, and it could easily take me off topic for a long time.

Good link. I missed it on Kos, so thanks.

Posted by: KissyO at May 10, 2004 11:02 PM : Link this comment
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