The tragedy of the Left, gasp….
“…the United States cannot be a beacon of freedom and justice to the world if it conducts itself as an empire”
The left has been divided before, but rarely has it been at once so vehement and so incoherent as this….
This Boston Globe Op-ed, titled Peace puzzle: Why the left can’t get Iraq right, is the latest in a in a line of similarly anguished Op-eds bewailing fissures in the Left and confusion over an Iraq War. Golly, these articles cry, lefties like Christopher Hitchens and Marc Cooper want Saddam removed while Alexander Cockburn and Noam Chomsky see an Iraq War as just one more example of overweaning imperialism – and isn’t this just too terribly tragic about what it says for the Left.
Whoa, hold on here while I catch my bearings, you mean there are actual disagreements and factions on the Left? This is clearly a new development and has never ever happened before in the entire history of the Left. If it had, then there would be jokes about how when the Left makes a firing squad, they make them circular…
The jist of this Op-ed, and others like it is that 1) the author is confused about Iraq and thus believes the Left must also be confused. Not so. Hitchens and Chomsky aren’t a bit confused about Iraq, they just have different views, 2) the author thinks that maybe Chomsky et al have valid points but can’t buy their entire analysis because, well it’s just too harsh against the U.S. Well, cheer up, you don’t have to be a Chomsky clone, it’s ok to have your own views. Really!
The articles closes with
In foreign affairs both left and right claim to speak for the conscience of America, but on Iraq the right has no moral clarity and the left has lost its moral compass. This is not a problem for the masters of realpolitik, who have long since inured themselves to the task of doing terrible things to human beings in the course of pursuing the national interest; but it is utterly devastating to those few souls who still dream that the course of human events should be judged – and guided – by principles common to many nations rather than by policies concocted by one. The emergence of the antiwar right, however, may yet hold a lesson for the left, insofar as it relies on Brent Scowcroft’s internationalism rather than Pat Buchanan’s isolationism: The challenge, clearly, is to learn how to be strenuously anti-imperialist without being indiscriminately antiwar. It is a lesson the American left has never had to learn – until now.
This reminds me of the antiwar Vietman days when “limousine liberals” would weep copiously about how sad it all was, and how they “agreed with our goals but not our tactics”, yet never seemed to actually do anything except stand on the sidelines, be anguished, and make moral pronouncements about how tacky everyone else was.
And what is the line about being “anti-imperialist with being indiscriminately antiwar”? I think the author is implying he favors an Iraq War but is too timid to say so. Well heck pal, why not just come out and say it? Hitchens did. However, it appears I will have to inform a Quaker friend that he is “indiscriminately antiwar” because he opposes all wars. I’m sure he will be chagrined to learn of this and will change his erring ways.
As for imperialism and imperialistic wars, yes, this analysis does say something ugly about America. If you can prove the analysis incorrect, then let’s hear it. But don’t shoot the messenger. Link via [Blog Left: Critical Interventions]