Thursday, May 08, 2003
A time for reflection: Today's Washington Post has a pair of articles by liberal columnists sensible and brave enough to honestly reflect on the real world in the wake of the U.S. victory in Iraq.
New Republic senior editor Jonathan Chait writes that many of his colleagues on the left have let their hatred for President Bush drive all thought from their heads.
Perhaps the most disheartening development of the war -- at home, anyway -- is the number of liberals who have allowed Bush-hatred to take the place of thinking. Speaking with otherwise perceptive people, I have seen the same intellectual tics come up time and time again: If Bush is for it, I'm against it. If Bush says it, it must be a lie. Their opposition to Bush has made liberals embrace principles -- such as the notion that the United States must never fight without U.N. approval except in self-defense -- to which the Clinton administration never adhered (see Operation Desert Fox in 1998, or the Kosovo campaign in 1999). And it has made them forget that there are governments in the world even more odious and untrustworthy than the Bush administration.
Columnist Richard Cohen looks back to the 1984 Republican National Convention, and U.S. representative to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick's speech. After nearly two decades, Cohen has come to the conclusion that Kirkpatrick was right about the "blame America first crowd."
That same tendency to blame America for the moral shortcomings of others unfortunately permeates the left and the Democratic Party. I wish it were otherwise, but I got the first whiff of it after Sept. 11 when some people reacted to the terrorist attacks here by blaming U.S. policy -- in the Middle East specifically but around the world in general.
Had we not supported Israel, had we not backed the corrupt Saudi monarchy, had we not been buddies with Egypt, had we not been somehow complicit in Third World poverty, had we not developed blue jeans and T-shirts and rock music and premarital sex, the World Trade Center might still be standing and the Pentagon untouched.
But this was the mass murder of innocents -- pulled off, incidentally, by non-poor young men who had not spent their lives scavenging for food scraps. The attacks were not in self-defense, or even in revenge for something America had done, but a fanatical, insane and futile blow directed at modernity.
Their colleagues on the left would be wise to listen and heed Cohen and Chait.