Tuesday, August 23, 2005

With Friends Like These

Over at the Whiskey Bar, Billmon takes apart one of Will Marshall's (the head of the DLC's "Progressive" Policy Institute) comments about the Iraq war, and emphasizes the bold type:

As they catalogue the administration's many mistakes, Democrats should also attend to the other side of the balance sheet. That side shows that our forces and their allies have toppled one of the world's most odious tyrants; upheld the principle of collective security; liberated a nation of 24 million; made possible Iraq's hopeful experiment in representative self-government; and changed the strategic equation in the Arab-Israeli conflict. (emphasis added)

But the part in bold type isn't what strikes me as the most offensive and ridiculous aspect of Marshall's statement. That would be the assertions about topplying the world's most odious "tyrant", upholding "collective security" and "liberating" a nation. The bit about "self-government" is either bafflingly ignorant, or deliberately manipulative, too, but we'll leave that for another day.

First of all, I suspect Marshall is in danger of being held liable for plagiarism since his remarks seem strikingly similar to those from any one of a number of Republican outlets, conservative think tank websites, or chicken-hawk blogs that have sounded like-minded themes over the past three years in an effort to combat any anti-war sentiment and oh, say, the facts about Iraq's supposed stash of WMD.

Second, it strains credibility to believe or accept the notion that the task of American foreign policy is to remove by military means foreign heads of governments, and the destruction of innocent civilian life that inevitably accompanies such military action, just because we believe those foreign heads to be, today, "odious tyrants" or "brutal dictators" (while in the past we might have cozied up to them despite their "odious" ways). In fact, American history sports a long, rich, and infamous record of support for brutal military dictatorships in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, that have largely gone unnoticed by the American public, including our nation's support for Saddam Hussein in the 1980's when an alliance with him supported our material and ideological interests. We've overthrown or worked to overthrow democratically elected governments, even as recently as three years ago in Venezuela (whose democratically elected head Republican "reverend" Pat Robertson wants whacked, as if American foreign policy should be conducted like an episode of the Sopranos). So please, Will Marshall, spare us the sanctimonious babble about removing "tyrants". You might be able to peddle this to a kindergarten class (although that would be an insult to kindergarteners) or at the American Enterprise Institute, but don't try shoving it off on dedicated party supporters.

Third, everybody alltogether now, there was no principle of "collective security" involved in the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It wasn't "collective" because the U.S. invaded unilaterally, never mind the sprinkling of soldiers supplied by Britain, Spain and Australia (and Don't Forget Poland!!) whose small additions were undoubtedly provided in exchange for promises of future American aid the details of which I shudder to consider. And it wasn't "security" because Iraq wasn't a threat to us or anyone else. It possessed no WMD, had no alliance with Al Qaeda or connection to 9-11, and its military was in shambles stemming from the first Gulf War, thus presenting no threat to its neighbors. Rather, our invasion has only served to fuel the rising tide of Islamic hostility to our expanding military bases in their lands and thus undermined our own security (and theirs).

Fourth, again, everybody alltogether now, only in the minds of the PNAC-led foreign policy establishment and their DLC enablers does the situation in Iraq now and for the foreseeable future resemble anything along the likes of "liberation." The country is on the brink of civil war and would already be there in actuality were 150,000 U.S. troops not encamped there. What was a relatively secular society is now threatening to become either a splintered, failed state ready and waiting to serve as the new terrorist haven, or, and apparently with our blessing, a Shiite dominated, women repressing Islamic state aligned with Iran. Both scenarios would require and imply the need for a prolonged U.S. military presence in Iraq so as to guard against, in the worst case scenario, an invasion by Iran in support of its Shiite compatriots, or, just as necessary, to prevent wanton mass murder between the various religious and tribal groups that we've now allowed to be unleashed on one another on the account of our invasion and destabilizing of the country. Moreover, the presence of even the relatively low levels of American military forces needed for keeping order and deterring Iranian intercession would themselves require greater numbers of American military personnel so as to ensure that the low troop numbers needed aren't themselves in danger of being overrun, especially to the extent that those remaining would be required to conduct operations outside the concrete security walls of Baghdad's Green Zone.

Finally, at a time when public opinion has finally managed to see through the media and political elite smokescreen that is the camaflouge of the support for the Iraq invasion, Democrats are faced with the prospect of squaring off against not only existing Republican majorities in Congress (some of whose members are actually beginning to respond to the war's failure to a greater degree than most Democrats) and the weight of the executive bureaucracy and bully pulpit of the presidency, but also against Republican sympathesizers masquerading under the guise of the DLC and committing grand larceny with the Democratic label.

Ooops. There goes my stab at being "moderate" in this debate. Oh well. Try try again. I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog cast.

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