February 09, 2005

Left for Tyranny

Pixy Misa wrote these words the day before Iraq voted. I missed them at the time, but, well, better late than never:

Let's review the situation from the point of view of a sane person:

The Taliban was bad. They oppressed women, supported terrorism, and gave sanctuary to Osama bin Laden (who is also bad). Plus they blew up those giant Buddha statues.

President Bush got rid of them, and now Afghanistan is a democracy - with women not only voting but getting elected. This is good.

Saddam Hussein was bad. He ruled Iraq as a tyrant, ruthlessly crushing any opposition. He had people pulled off the streets to be tortured or murdered on his slightest whim; he employed men to rape his female prisoners. He also had appalling taste in art.

President Bush got rid of him, and tomorrow the Iraqis go to the polls to elect their new government. This is good.

So thanks to President Bush and America, and their allies Britain and Australia (and quite a few other countries), 50 million people are now free.

But, says the left, but, this is actually a bad thing because he is not an idealist. Without that idealism, he is forced to take on the world as it actually is, so his bringing freedom to 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq counts for nothing.

The logic of this position is difficult to untangle, but this is how it looks to me:

Axiom: America bad.
Axiom: Conservatives bad.

Postulate: Anything done by bad people is necessarily also bad.

Therefore: If President Bush speaks in idealistic terms, he must be lying.
If he frees entire countries from tyranny, it must be from base motives, and he deserves only scorn.
If people in the government support him, they are only in it for money and power.
If voters support him, they are stupid.

Against the strident opposition of the Left, America has fought two wars of liberation since 2001. The only contribution of the Left to this effort has been negative: to slow things down, to make every effort more difficult, to give hope to insurgents and terrorists.

There was a time when the Left stood for some good things, like fighting for freedom, equality, and caring about the world. Now only the right stands for those things.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at February 9, 2005 08:36 PM
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I originally started this with:
Quick points, because I shouldn't be reading blogs right now.

But I think this is better:
Warning: Longwinded and Freehand (so not-so-organized) comment below. (The [strike] tags didn't work.)

If Plony sees a guy running down the street, and doesn't like his mug, so he just clotheslines the guy and starts beating on him. Then around the corner come running the police, chasing this murdering bank-robbin' low-life. And hey, look, Plony's captured him! So you might think Plony's a good guy.

Except we know (we are omniscient within hypotheticals) that Plony's a liar, and a bad person.

So here we are. In anticipation of the war, W didn't say *anything* about how evil Saddam was to his people. W (and the US as a whole, really, and that reflects badly on the Left as well as the Right) didn't really raise much of a ruckus as Saddam was raping and torturing and killing and excercising his bad taste in art.

W sold the war on mostly on one premise and a little on a second. Double-you Emm Dees was the big one, and a tie-in to 9/11 came a little later. That's it. Go read the speeches, look at the P/R. You can, creatively, go back and read "general evil-ness and oppression" into some of what he said, but overall, not really.

And that makes sense. Because the Right as well as the Left is -- and correctly so -- leary of sending US troops to defend interests that are not US interests. There is a US interest in having less evil-ness generally, etc., but it's not at all clear that merely stopping the badness of Saddam would have been enough to get us in there.

Significantly, there have been and continue to be worse evil-ness going on in all sorts of places about which we did and are doing little or nothing, places where intervention would be less difficult and expensive. (I'm remembering Burundi, Rwanda, like that.)

But then, W's got a problem. No WMD's. Even his own people have come clean to the fact that they ain't there.

(Oh, they were moved??? Why don't we go follow them, then. Because our current political interests prevent us from following them into Syria or Saudi Arabia. But if they're so evil... Hmmm.)

And the 9/11 link is and has been pretty weak. Saddam wasn't real big on giving the religious extermists a lot of power because he knew that he wasn't high on their hit parade of favorite friends either. Even giving credence to the intelligence that's come out -- which I refuse to believe is as shoddy as it seems, and I can't help but think was influenced -- Osama had closer ties to Bush than to Saddam.

So, W solves his problem by pointing to the Evil-ness of Saddam, and people go along with it. That's the part that gets Liberals on the "voting for him is stupid" rant. I'm not that into politics and I remember this stuff; how can someone who follows it closely not remember.

Even though Plony stomped on a baddie, Plony himself was a dirtbag; he just got lucky in picking the right victim.

So too here. W's proclaimed interests had nothing to do with Saddam being evil. W's proclaimed interests were WMD and 9/11, which have been shown less than entirely valid.

So, EITHER he was duped by underlings who had an agenda, in which case he's a dolt and people shouldn't have voted for him, OR he was INTENTIONALLY misleading the citizens of this great nation, leveradging the fear and trauma of 9/11 in a successful bid to convince them to spend precious funds and priceless blood in the pursuit of a duplicitous agenda which is still unclear, in which case people shouldn't have voted for him.

Only other option is that he, and all of the underlings that spouted the same party line to the UN, to the press, to the leaders of other nations, believed the "shoddy" intelligence. But that would only be possible if he had silenced or eliminated any voices that might have pointed out the obvious weaknesses in the intelligence provided. In which case he's a terrible leader and at the same time a bit slow. And again, people shouldn't have voted for him.

Except for the outliers (who are, admittedly, loud, but that's true on both sides of the Red/Blue divide), the Left STILL stands for freedom, equality, and caring about the world. But freedom has to be shown by and seen in the liberator before it can be properly spread. Equality is an equality of opportunity, not of circumstance, such that if another sovreign nation freely chooses a system different from ours, we should recognize that choice and leave them with it, as opposed to assuming that ours is absolutely the best system for everyone.

Assume, for a moment, that President Bush really was incensed by the bad-ness of Saddam, and only lied to us in order to get us involved there so as to end Saddam's reign. EVEN if that was the case -- and here is where my personal distrust of the man comes into play, because I don't think it was -- EVEN if that was the case, though, what he did in misleading and threatening the US public was STILL the wrong thing. If he couldn't have convinced us (Left AND Right) to "do the right thing," then he would have to face the reality of who we are in this country.

I have strongly held political opinions that fall opposite those of the overwhelming majority of my neighbors, and the not-quite-as-overwhelming-but-still-valid majority of my countrymen. At this point, though, my best option is to understand that I live in a very Red part of a pretty Red county (in a vaguely Blue state) in a big Red country. I want policy XYZ, and I will pontificate and attempt to convince those around me about it. But if the political will ain't there, I can't just make up emergencies and foist my will upon my neighbors. How much moreso when the foist-EEs are not my peers but my wards, when they have given me the reins of leadership and when all concerned admit that I have better information than they?

No one wakes up in the morning and thinks, "Hey, I'd like to oppose freedom, equality, and caring." But the Right... or at least W... is willing to stoop to unfortunate levels to achieve those ends.

--FrumDad
[Google Wangle: Orthodox Jewish Father]

Posted by: FrumDad at February 11, 2005 12:30 AM Permalink

Thanks frumdad, very good answer.

Unfortunately it will probably be dismissed as too "nuanced."

Some might even call you a "flip-flopper."

But thanks for making the effort.

Posted by: Steve at February 11, 2005 04:23 AM Permalink

FrumDad and Steve: Thanks for dropping by. I'm glad to have some readers from the left side of the arena.

FrumDad:

In anticipation of the war, W didn't say *anything* about how evil Saddam was to his people.

This is what we call, in the sciences, sampling error: There is far too much data out there to use all of it in our analysis, so we must "sample" it, and assume that our sample is representative. Evidently, your sample is derived from biased sources, like the New York Times and CBS (which is still unrepentant about presenting fraudulent data as news). I was there too, and I heard Bush and members of his administration talking about many things other than WMD. The emphasis on WMD was solely an artifact of the perceived need to make a legal case before the UN, and that legal case hinged on WMD - kind of like getting a Mafia boss on tax evasion. The bottom line is that Bush was not "intentionally misleading" Americans: the left-wing media was.

To your credit you didn't mention it, but while I'm here, I must address the accusation that since no WMD were found, then Bush is a liar. This is, well, a lie. I was there: the whole world (even the loony left and Frence) thought that Saddam had WMD. Everything he did led to that conclusion, and we know that at least a one time he had WMD: he used them on the Kurds. What happened to the WMD is still a mystery. The best explanation I've heard is that the evidence for WMD was deliberatly fabricated by Saddam's underlings to fool their boss, and had the additional result of fooling the rest of the world as well. Kind of a wacky theory, in my opinion, but when you eliminate the impossible, all you have left is the improbable.

Your story about Plony (for listeners-in: Plony is the Talmudic version of John Doe - his full name is Ploni Almoni - Almoni means anonymous in Hebrew) is something of a shaggy dog story. Kind of reminds me of that joke which starts: suppose you're a bus driver, then goes on with all sorts of details, and ends: What's the name of the bus driver? It's a nice story, with a hypothetical meaning, but you are forgetting that you are not omniscient, and you don't know that Bush is evil. You have to judge him by is actions. I, for one, think he's a good man trying to do the right thing. Of course he has made mistakes, the only person who hasn't made mistakes is the person who hasn't done anything. Who's your favorite Democratic president? FDR? Kennedy? Are you going to claim that they didn't make any mistakes? I, for one, think that Bush has not made very many mistakes (going to the UN might have been one of them) and does a good job of learning from them when he does. And his claim that the root cause of terrorism is lack of democracy is spot-on in my opinion. What's decietful about that?

You do have a point that Iraq was not the only evil country in the world, nor the only country that supports terrorism. The answer to that is that you have to choose your battles. Choosing to confront those countries that are both evil and threaten the US sounds like a good start to me. For my take on the War Against Terrorism go here.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at February 11, 2005 10:46 AM Permalink

Interesting points. I agree this debate is way too subjective,each one bringing (and remembering)only what best fits his own opinion.As an outsider, though (I am not and have never been a US citizen) I must admit I don't understand that kind of basic "gut hatred" for Republican presidents. It just reminds me something else I don't understand and it's the "guts hatred" for the US around the whole world when anybody wanting a better life is doing everything to get there.Funny thing,the US is very bad,please give me a green card! ;-)
Oh well,was just pointed to this blog by my girlfriend and couldn't resist putting my mark on it... Just the way cats do... ;-)

Posted by: Gandalf at February 28, 2005 09:31 AM Permalink

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