Friday, March 18, 2005

What's Left? Shame

That's the title of Charles Krauthammer's column in today's Washington Post -- and it is the sort of discussion of which we'll be seeing more and more, if the democratic stirrings in the Middle East continue. You can find it here (although you have to sign in). In the column, he makes this point:

"...the left has always prided itself on being the great international champion of freedom and human rights. And yet, when America proposed to remove the man responsible for torturing, gassing and killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, the left suddenly turned into a champion of Westphalian sovereign inviolability. "

I didn't vote for Bush, don't really much like him, but before the Iraq war, I had numerous arguments with my liberal friends about why I supported the war. Although I have been deeply disappointed -- no, excuse me, ticked off with how the Bush Administration handled "selling" the war and reconstructing the country, I haven't jumped off the train yet because I'd been holding out the hope that, in the end, we will end up with a free, reasonably democratic Iraq. Which would, in turn, help spread a greater Middle Eastern democratizing movement. And what has been an on-going frustration with me is why none of my liberal friends have felt the same way. It's like, overnight, the foreign policy fairy went around sprinkling conservative realist dust on American liberals. I thought we on the left were supposed to be the ones who supported a foreign policy driven by democratic values, who opposed cozying up to convenient dictators. And now that we have an example of just that concept, but implemented by the bad Bushies, liberals have suddenly found their inner Pat Buchanan. Suddenly, leftists love the idea of peace without justice: Horrible dictator? Ok, but at least we're not at war.

Look, there are plenty of reasonable arguments to be made against the Bush foreign policy: it's fraught with risk, the diplomacy is ham-handed, and the "marketing" to the American public has been cagey at best, downright dishonest at worst. But, at the end of it all, if these early signs of a Middle East thaw prove to be right, the Bush Administration will have done a good thing. And frankly, I'm cheesed off that the Republicans will take all the credit for it, and liberals will have sat on the sidelines, doing their best impression of the Glum, that 70's cartoon character: "it'll never work".

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