Friday, April 01, 2005

Democrats on Bush's Middle East policy

I have GOT to stop saying stuff that ends up in the New Republic. Martin Peretz has a piece today calling out Democrats, and Republican "realists," for their refusal to acknowledge that something good might be happening in the Middle East thanks to Bush's foreign policy. He starts by making a comparison I have been fond of using (really, I'm sure one of my friends would be willing to attest to this...), that if Bush cured cancer, liberals would carp that he did so without proper international consultations and in an arrogant, cowboy-like manner. As I posted earlier, I am really really mad at liberals for totally taking a pass on the Administration's mission to make America safer by, heaven forfend, spreading democracy in the terribly undemocratic Middle East. If the "Middle Eastern spring" continues, I think this failure of vision and courage will rank up there with the embarrassing apologist attitude taken by many -- though certainly not all -- American liberals about communism, starting in the 1960s. Of course, American conservatives have their own shameful "we got it all wrong" issues -- most notably their failure to support the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Still, I expect better from my fellow lefties. I am also unconcerned about how wrong the Republican realists might be about Bush, as I hardly expect to be on the same side as Pat Buchanan on just about anything. But I think the American left has dangerously held onto attitudes about the U.S. military and foreign policy that were formed by Vietnam, and which became mainstream Democratic foreign policy in 1968. This attitude holds that it is a given that the U.S. military must be seen as a force for bad, and that U.S. foreign policy must always be interpreted as trampling on the rights of poor, dark-skinned foreigners. The fact that some of these foreigners might actually be really bad people who should not be romanticized as "freedom fighting" insurgents is not worth considering. If it was asinine for Ronald Reagan to refer to the Contras as freedom fighters, as most liberals would assert, it surely must be equally asinine to ascribe such high-minded motives to people who seek to destroy Iraq's attempt to create a democratic government by blowing people up.

I appreciate and share your frustration with a knee-jerk liberal response to Bush's foreign policy, and am getting a bit off point with this post, but

Regarding your comparison of Bush's foreign policy to curing cancer, even in medicine, the ends don't necessarily justify the means. For instance, we learned a lot about syphillis from the Tuskegee experiment, but it's not right to learn about a disease by infecting healthy people. Similarly, it would be unethical to isolate the possible effects of new cancer drugs by denying known effective treatments to people with cancer. (It would be easier to isolate the effects of these new drugs by doing so.)

But to get back to your point, people are romanticizing the insurgents/terrorists in Iraq? Yikes.
Who is this mysterious comment leaver?!

Anyway, yes, I see your point about the ends not necessarily justifying the means. I felt that way about the possibility that Bush lied about WMD to send us to war; although I did support the war, I found it frustrating that the Administration seemed to think it just didn't matter how they justified it, as it was done for a good cause (in their view). So, I agree, and obviously a reasonable person could say that the war wasn't worth the beneficial outcome of creating a democracy. Still, I find most Democrats/liberals (what do we call these people?!) who disagree with the Iraq war refuse to acknowledge ANY positive outcome. It seems like many (though certainly not all) just want to fit the Iraq war into a pre-existing script that says American military action is always bad and must be opposed as oppressive and belligerent.

PS Apparently, I can leave this comment under a different user name, which is weird. I could have a little debate with myself, using my different personalities --er, I mean, user names.
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