Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kool-Aid guzzling of the First Degree and the liberal prism

Contrasting the government's reaction to al Qaeda messages last year to al Qaeda messages this year, Professor Nacos asks, "I wonder about this sea change from public over-attention to al-Qaeda messages to mostly ignoring such communications in public discourse." My answer: "what's changed since last year regarding perception of al Qaeda and the War on Terror? Iraq. But to understand the change, you need to see like a liberal."

Commenter Tony reacted to my assessment, "This an instance of Kool-Aid guzzling of the First Degree". Tony's reaction is typical of the skepticism increasingly directed against the liberalism defining our strategy in the War on Terror. I felt my best response was to remind readers that President Bush's choice is rooted in traditional American liberalism as well as the presidential position he inherited on Iraq:

You could be right - we'll find out. It's a contest. If we fail, this episode will demarcate the limit of the American-led progressive revolution and liberal world order. If we succeed, it will mean the enclave of tribalism you favor will have been opened and transformed.

At least, if we choose to be defeated by the anti-liberal forces against whom we are pitted, we can honestly say we failed while upholding our most cherished principles.

President John Kennedy, 1961:

"Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

President Bill Clinton, 1998:

"In the century we're leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community, fear and hope. Now, in the new century, we'll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past, but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace."

"The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.

The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. Bringing change in Baghdad will take time and effort."

President Bill Clinton, 1998:

"The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.

The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else.

The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life."

President George W. Bush, 2004:

"For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability, and much oppression. So I have changed this policy. In the short-term, we will work with every government in the Middle East dedicated to destroying the terrorist networks. In the longer-term, we will expect a higher standard of reform and democracy from our friends in the region. Democracy and reform will make those nations stronger and more stable, and make the world more secure by undermining terrorism at it source. Democratic institutions in the Middle East will not grow overnight; in America, they grew over generations. Yet the nations of the Middle East will find, as we have found, the only path to true progress is the path of freedom and justice and democracy."




Anonymous fnord said...

Eric: I didnt quite follow you in the logic of this one. Its in the finest tradition of the USA to invade other countries and killat least a hundred thousand locals, blow up their infrastructure and allow massive ethnical cleansing just so that the remaining few shall have a gulf-style kleptocracy hoisted upon them?

6/16/2008 3:50 AM  

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