What has happened to “liberals”? What used to be a humanitarian, internationalist philosophy has turned into a disgusting isolationist movement that cares only about humiliating Bush. And what would be more humiliating than leaving Iraq just when we’re starting to see progress, and causing a genocide that could then be blamed on Bush and his neocon supporters. No one would blame the liberals who actually called for the hasty retreat and had hampered the war effort from its start.
Liberals used to at least pretend they cared about the Iraqi people. Now they’ve lost even that pretense. Did you catch the absurd “The Road Home” editorial in the Times? The thesis is that “It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.” What follows, though, is this:
Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps most important, the invasion has created a new stronghold from which terrorist activity could proliferate.
The administration, the Democratic-controlled Congress, the United Nations and America’s allies must try to mitigate those outcomes — and they may fail. But Americans must be equally honest about the fact that keeping troops in Iraq will only make things worse.
Make things worse? Worse than “ethnic cleansing, even genocide”? Are you serious? Of course, this kind of tripe is easily dispatched with, as has Jules Crittendon and my friend Kevin Sullivan.
Perhaps worse, though, is a man some of you may be thinking of voting for next year (think twice). Barack Obama turns what may be written off as a slip by the Times into a general statement of isolationist principles — principles of indifference to genocide. According to the AP, he suggested that “preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there”. And continued:
Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now - where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife - which we haven’t done.
We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea.
Again, this is easy to dispatch with, as have James Taranto and Jonah Goldberg. But liberals don’t read WSJ or National Review.
But they sure as hell read The New York Times. I mentioned earlier that liberals are marching lockstep towards withdrawal just as the forces are starting to see some real security progress. Though many news sources have been reporting the successes of the Petraeus surge for months, the NYT just chimed in last Monday with an editorial from two Brookings Institute scholars and frequent Bush critics. The point:
How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.
The Democratic response to the good news from Iraq? Denial. So much of the Democrats’ 2008 strategy is based on defeatism in Iraq, that any good news for the Iraqi people is actually seen as bad news by the Democrats. From Rep. Nancy Boyda of Kansas:
But let me first just say that the description of Iraq as in some way or another that it’s a place that I might take the family for a vacation—things are going so well—those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country instead of saying, here’s the reality of the problem. And people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue.
From Rep. Jack Murtha:
rhetoric…I don’t know what they saw, but I know this, that it’s not getting better.
Many will argue that the O’Hanlon and Pollack piece is just one editorial, and that it doesn’t prove anything about Iraq. Well sure, but it’s not alone. Here, here, here. I’ve got a dozen more.
No, these don’t prove anything either. But they do make the case for “rational optimism on Iraq”, to take Max Boot’s phrase.
You were against the Iraq war from the start? Good for you. You can revel in the Iraqi people’s suffering. You may have been right. But that doesn’t absolve you of the duty to help the people of Iraq, and leaving Iraq now, or setting a date to leave there very soon, is not going to help the people of Iraq finally achieve peace (nor us, security). As Kevin Sullivan writes in response to the “gotcha politics” of “progressive” isolationists:
So tell me, if we pat you on the back and tell you that you were right about the invasion, will you stop handicapping our foreign policy? Pretty please?