Friday, June 29, 2007

Iraq & The Eight-Foot Invisible Rabbit

Albert Camus wrote "The innocent is the person who explains nothing." This rather opaque observation describes the left’s increasing stridency when alluding to their guiltlessness in undermining the morale of the American people for carrying on the War in Iraq. In fact, liberals are employing a strategy that attempts to obscure their stated desire that the United States lose the war while at the same time, deflecting attention from a 4 year effort to convince the American people that trying to bring democracy to Iraq was a hopeless exercise in wishful thinking and that the war has been a lost cause from the start.

They deny it, of course. In fact, they get downright nasty if you even try and point it out. They will whine that their criticisms of the war effort have been misconstrued. They were simply trying to help win the war by pointing out the incompetence and wrongheadedness of the Bush Administration. They really had the US interests at heart all along.

Yes, I have an eight foot invisible rabbit as a friend too.

* * * * *
Rick Moran penned those words the other day at Rightwing Nuthouse, his excellent but inaptly named blog. Inapt because Moran is one of the least crazy bloggers out there of any persuasion. Besides which, anyone who knows what the hell Camus is talking about impresses me. If I have a peeve, it is his penchant for label commingling – as in lefties and liberals and righties and conservatives.

That duly noted, Moran is on to something that lefterals and liberists won't acknowledge.

There is the pungently unmistakable (unmistakably pungent?) odor of schadenfreunde lurking beneath the surface as they declaim against the war.

Well, I don’t think there’s a damned thing to gloat about: The crossroads of the Middle East in ruins. Hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and millions of homeless refugees. Several thousand dead Americans, our nation’s world standing at low ebb. Just because this is the fault of George Bush and his neocon puppet masters doesn’t change a freaking thing.

Once we were in Iraq, we were in Iraq, okay? And while I was mightily pissed off about being lied to regarding the reasons for going to war and didn't and don't think it is winnable in the traditional (military) sense, I figured that since we were in the neighborhood, a little nation building wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

As it is, the Bush administration blew this, too, but to argue that it wasn't a worthy effort is pig ignorant. (Insert mention here of the Iraqis being their own worst enemy.)

* * * * *
Moran devotes much of his commentary to the origins of the "stab in the back" defense in anticipating that antiwar folks will be accused by right wing folks of using it against them when the orgy of national wound licking commences.

Moran engages in the inevitable discussion of the Mother of All Back Stabs -- the Yalta Conference near the end of World War II -- and does some nattering about Nazis that weakens his overall argument. But then as a longtime editor I would have trimmed out about a third of his piece and told Rick to go have a cold one at the local tappy if he was going to pout.

Look, I’m one of those folks who is really against the war but really supports the troops, so Moran's larger point is sustainable: Those lefterals and liberalists have seldom offered coherent arguments for being against the war that have any resonance, let alone separate the boots in Iraq from the boobs in Washington when fulminating about the whole misguided adventure.

Moran concludes that:

The left has predictably played their role as destroyer of the people’s will while the Bush Administration has obliged them by committing one mistake after another in trying to defeat them. The combination has been unbeatable – for the enemy.

That is a little tougher than I would have put it because he gives this crowd too much credit. They should be hard on the bad guys in three-piece suits with the PowerPoint presentations, but that doesn’t mean that they should be soft on the bad guys in the white bathrobes with the Kalashnikovs, and they have been.

In the end, simply being against the war has been enough for them. That’s too lazy for me by half, and dishonors our brothers and sisters who died fighting in what through no fault of their own was an unjust war.


Anonymous said...

Uh-huh. It's too bad there won't be any formal post war debate or even an investigation. I think having proved Bin Laden right there is no possible way we can ever win a war against terrorists occupying the same space as a recognizable government. From here on out, al-Qaeda will have a free hand wherever they choose to set up shop. They will target weak, corrupt governments and dare anyone to come in and root them out. Since that won't happen, I don't see how any meaningful progress can be made to stop them.

kikokimba said...

I want to add that I've linked a lot to Rick Moran over the years on The Moderate Voice. I have often told him the name of his site is all wrong. He has been sharply criticized over the years by people on the right and on the left. He is really an independent thinker. What you see on his site is never something you swear you heard on Rush Limbaugh, or Randi Rhodes. His posts don't seem to be imitating anyone or be up there to shamelessly seek a link from a bigger blog (on some sites some posts almost seem written for the bigger bloggers). So he's always someone who I've read because I know I'm getting his honest take on it, which may not be my own. But it's why I've linked to him in roundups over the years.

cognitorex said...

Iraq, stay or leave?
If the Iraqi's stopped all fighting, formed an exemplary democratic national government and bid all American troops to leave Iraq this would be a great victory to 'progressives' and liberals. They would offer money and services to restore Iraq to health while all the while grinning madly that peace and prosperity had been the result of America's intervention in Iraq.
Meanwhile Bush, Cheney, the neocons and their oil company allies would have a fit. As I have previously written, I have seen Dick Cheney smile that Al Qaida is now in Iraq. It suits his interests to a tee.
Instability in the Midddle East is a power goal and an economic goal for those in office today. A rush to bomb Iran before leaving office is cogent policy and tactically urgent for this group.
The Democrats should take their case directly to the American voters with a bi-partisan touring panel. The message would be that the Iraqi's are not our enemy. The message should include the Iraq Parliment's agreement and blessing that withdrawal is the mutually sanest course to reduce violence.
Retired Generals who know full well that there is nothing to win in Iraq should join the touring panel to explain to the voters that a policy of leaving is more likely to be a policy of winning than what is constituted by a policy of staying.
Serving and retired Generals know that there is nothing to "win" in Iraq except for our departure sooner or later. The military brass know that attacking Iran will cripple the military and to some degree leave America defenseless. It's time that the armed forces stop serving as mercenaries for a Cheney led economic policy which actively promotes Mid East instability as a corner stone.
Leaving Iraq is the natural and ultimate goal. Our staying provides political ammo for the Al Qaida misfits we led into the country. Our leaving cripples these thugs' political message and motivation.
Eighty plus per cent of the Iraqis want the U.S. to leave.
And we stay why?
Cheney et al lie when they say we stay to win. They lie when they say the Jihadis will any more follow us home than they attempt to do so at present. They lie that our nationalism should want us to stay when leaving is the only defensible long term plan.
They entice and invoke a following by propaganda calls to follow the Red, White and Blue while corruptly wishing our occupation and control to continue ad infinitum.
America's best interest are served by leaving.
Get er done, voters. Get er done.

Rick Moran said...

Heh. Thanks for the kind words, Joe.

And I know you'll be happy to hear that a redesign of the site is in the works and will roll out in a couple of weeks.

The name of the new site? "Rick Moran.Net."

Hope you and Ed Morrissey are happy. Both of you have been after me for years to change the name. But seeing as it takes several hundred dollars to do the job right, it wasn't until lately that I've been able to afford it.

So watch for the roll out - I'll email and let you know.

Shaun Mullen said...

Geez, Rick!

I thought you'd rename your site

Anonymous said...

This is so much more refreshing to read than the "back of the dimly lit bar-room" rantings of disaffected ex-military ultracons in RightWing News. Clear, concise reasoning I'll take from any side of the aisle.

As for leaving/staying? They debate and saber rattling will continue in house and Senate, while a propped up government in Iraq will pretend to go about their business, such as it is. If they can even agree on laws in the first place ( for that matter, pot is calling kettle black with our own government,lol), it will be a few years before people can even hope to have stable electricity 24/7, shopping malls that aren't bunkers for the 3rd Infantry and kids won't be clamoring around our troops for free stuff- they'll be doing that to their own parents ( the ones still left of course) It is our mess and we need to clean it up and remember not to do it again ( in places like Iran and N Korea ) SALT talks worked pretty good for us and Russia, why can't we apply the same nose to the grindstone method?
day-player jihadists ( insert xyz name of Sunni/Shia insurgency group )

Anonymous said...

Well Done, gentlemen! Rick Moran, Shaun Mullan, and Joe Gandleman have given us thoughtful, reasoned discussion of this issue. This is the kind of discussion that may actually cause people to reconsider their opinions, and reevaluate opposing points of view.

As a person who opposed entering the war (a conservative, Shaun), I do not think the "Bush lied, thousands died" rhetoric helped, and that it was, in fact dishonest to paint this as a war for Halliburton, as many have. I agree, opportunists (big oil contractors among them) wanted quick profits, and saw a way to get them. I think we should be fair, and recognize an unfortunate humanitarian impulse - dare I say it - a liberal impulse, of Democratic partisan origins no less - seems to have been one factor behind President Bush's thinking. Woodrow Wilson's internationalism supported by intervention.

Unfortunately, Wilson's efforts to teach the Mexicans to elect good men was unsuccessful. His effort to bring about world peace through the Treaty of Versailles was equally flawed, if nobly designed. Bush's efforts to bring American style democracy to Iraq failed for many of the same reasons Wilson failed. Bush's stubbornness and intractability is much like Wilson, demanding the Democratic Congress give him a treaty with a League of Nations, or he would veto it. Compromise was not part of Wilson's nature, nor is it part of President Bush's nature.

Despite his self-professed interest in history, Mr. Bush seems to have failed to understand why Wilson is a tragic, rather than heroic figure. He stands a very good chance of being ranked as one of the most unsuccessful presidents of all time, but many of his most vocal critics are guilty of exactly the same kind of unreasoning adherence to their pre-existing views as George Bush has.

So what about the war? I think it is time to find a way to leave quickly. We cannot make matters better by staying, and we cannot make them worse by going home. Since we cannot achieve the ends of creating a stable democracy in Iraq, it is time to recognize that we have accomplished what we could, and stop wasting our blood and treasure trying. Tell the Iraqi government that we have removed Saddam Hussein, they have had their elections, they have a government, and we are leaving. Leave promptly, and do not attempt to create a large military base in the region.

Phase II - engage in quiet diplomatic support for an Israeli - Fatah peace accord. Let the UK and EU do the heavy lifting here.

While both of these are going on, quietly build up a strong military and defense. I have a feeling we will need it if Iran's President Ahmedinejad gets serious about all the talking he has done about eliminating the state of Israel and other undesirables.

Rick Moran said...

This year - you are correct.

Anonymous said...

I don’t read Rick Moran often enough to judge his qualities. I’m willing enough to accept the endorsements given by Shaun and Joe Gandelman. But I don’t think this piece is mostly about poor arguments from those who opposed the war.

The whole post is about shifting a large share of the blame onto some vague entity called "the left".

Here's a line quoted by Shaun:

"The left has predictably played their role as destroyer of the people’s will..."

There’s the argument: “The left” were as responsible for the failures of this war as the people who actually ran the war.

Here's a longer quotation from later in the piece:

"But one is forced to wonder if the people would have been more forgiving of the blunders and would be sticking with the Administration today in much larger numbers if the left hadn’t been insidiously chopping the President off at the knees by falsely accusing him of every perfidy known to man."

I, for one, am not forced to wonder about that. I think poor planning and poor execution—even poor underlying policy—are the reasons why people are unforgiving. Not Michael Moore. Not Rosie O'Donnell. Not CNN. Not the New York Times. Not whatever subject-changing boogeyman you care to mention.

I'm not going to deny the existence of a certain amount of what Shaun calls schadenfreunde among some war opponents. But I do deny it's a main current of thought. After all, isn't there an element of kill-them-all nihilism among supporters? Why argue that the most extreme element is the most representative? In fact, I concede that many, if not most, of the war’s supporters wanted to make the Middle East a better place.

And I'm not going to deny the fact that there is blame enough to go around. But the stabbed-in-the-back-by-the-left argument is nothing but an effort to shift the lion's share of the blame from its true owners.

Here’s the question: Has this war been good for America?

Undoubtedly, many smart people who supported George W. Bush feel cheated. Some of them are looking for somebody, anybody to blame. But instead of blaming "the left" for complaining too much, why not blame "the right" for failing to complain enough?

J@ne Futzinfarb said...

Placing even some portion of the blame for the failure of the U.S. in Iraq on liberals (and, oh yes, a tiny subset of conservatives) who opposed the war is absurd and smacks of desperation by a frightened and very culpable conservative movement. Analogously we might blame the failures of the War on Poverty in part on conservatives because they maintained a public posture that it was fundamentally flawed policy: “oh, if only they had kept their protests to themselves” moans L.I Beral, wringing his (or is it her) hands, “or better, gotten behind the effort, the bureaucrats would have felt that their efforts were valued, and the Great Society might have had a fighting chance.” ABSURD and pathetic.

I have a difficult time imagining any military effort that isn’t likely to have some segment of the U.S. population opposed to it – that is a fundamental and necessary aspect of democracy and is exactly as it should be – and is a simple fact that must be competently managed as a part of war efforts by the nation’s leaders as any other aspect of a military undertaking: logistics, personnel, casualties, diplomacy and so on. If public opinion about the Iraq war has had a significant negative impact on its prosecution then that simply compounds the utter failures of this conservative administration in its diastrous misadventure in Iraq.

In several different contexts over the course of my life I had experiences or was engaged in work that suggested to me in the runup to the Iraq invasion that the administration had access to very tangible information about WMDs that it could not reveal in full to the public and that warranted the invasion. I therefore reluctantly, and perhaps to my shame, supported the invasion. As it became clear that the effort would uncover no significant WMDs, and that, perhaps, intelligence was manipulated to generate public and diplomatic support, I was aghast. Schadenfreude for those that opposed the war? I seem to remember a great deal of Schadenfreude on the right when we were kicking the a$$es of poor schmuck draftees in the Iraqi army and destroying infrastructure with precision bombing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Iraqis suffer quite nearly as much as Americans from bullet wounds and explosions and I don’t remember any significant public rebuke for the pleasure that was taken at the expense of that suffering. Let the liberals have their tiny spark of pleasure in having been right about the absolute tragedy we unleashed – may it be, god willing, some small antidote to future leaders who would venture into such an ill-advised undertaking, uninformed, underprepared, incompetent.