Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It's not all about us

Danny Schechter provides a incisive commentary on the shallow nature of much of the anti-war sentiment in this country.

IF YOU ARE AGAINST THE WAR, TAKE THIS QUIZ

OK, class. No talking. Pencils up. All eyes on the exam. Here's the first multiple-choice question.

The Iraq War is Bad Because:

a. It is illegal, immoral, and criminal
b. It has ended up killing and maiming millions of Iraqis we promised to free
c. It has devastated a country and ignited world opinion against the United States and caused thousands of US casualties
d. It has debased our media and turned much of it into a propaganda organ
e. It was badly managed and poorly executed

If you survey world opinion, there would be a consensus on selecting A-D as a response. If you polled most Democratic politicians and mainstream journalists, you would find overwhelming support only for E "the we screwed it up" thesis as the correct answer.

What was once hailed as a heroic mission is now being dismissed as a fiasco, error and "mistake," and to some former war boosters, even a "noble mistake."

In fact, that's the view that seems to be framing what debate there has been on the war. It is still AAU All About Us. In this view, all that matters is our policy objectives but rarely our economic or geo-political agenda. Iraq as a nation, as a culture, and a people barely exists.

Read the whole thing.

And in much the same vein, Brian Leiter has the final word on the unprincipled but rather pompously titled "manifesto" We Answer to the Name of Liberals being circulated by Bruce Ackerman and the reliably insipid Todd Gitlin.

Why I Am Not a Liberal... (Leiter)

...at least if this embarrassing moral waffling counts as liberalism. I am sorry that people I rather like, and some of whom I know would have written a far better statement, signed on to this feeble statement of "principles" [sic] by Bruce Ackerman and Todd Gitlin. How they got past the first substantive paragraph, I really do not know:

We have all opposed the Iraq war as illegal, unwise, and destructive of America's moral standing. This war fueled, and continues to fuel, jihadis whose commitment to horrific, unjustifiable violence was amply demonstrated by the September 11 attacks as well as the massacres in Spain, Indonesia, Tunisia, Great Britain, and elsewhere. Rather than making us safer, the Iraq war has endangered the common security of Americans and our allies.

So this is liberalism: to oppose criminal wars of aggression against defenseless nations when they aren't in America's interests?

That's a principle?

How else, after all, to interpret Ackerman's and Gitlin's opposition to the war on the grounds that it is "unwise" and "destructive of America's moral standing" as anything other than saying it isn't in America's interests? (And must liberals really be committed to silliness about America having "moral standing"? Can't liberals be realistic enough to observe that America has pursued the strategic interests of ruling elites like every other nation in human history, with the more-or-less predictable consequences for peoples and countries that fell afoul of those interests?).
Read the whole thing.

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