Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Win in Iraq? Well, of course.

It was great watching David Letterman stand up to that reactionary gasbag Bill O’Reilly. But I have to agree with Shadi Hamid at Democracy Arsenal that some liberals all too often fall into rhetorical traps set up for them by conservatives. When asked the simple question “Do you want the U.S. to win in Iraq?”, Letterman hesitates as if a simple affirmative answer might imply support for the disastrous Bush policy in Iraq and replies, “It’s not easy because I’m thoughtful.” The quick, simple and thoughtful response could have been, “Yes. Regardless of the reasons we invaded, we have presided over a disaster and need to stabilize that country and region to the extent possible which will mean ridding ourselves of those primarily responsible (specifically Rumsfeld and Cheney) for this disastrous policy and who squandered the initial victory, invite international involvement and assistance, talk to Iran and Syria and ask for their cooperation in Iraqi stabilization, be willing to talk with any and all parties engaged in the civil war, provide the financial resources and technical know-how to help rebuild the country, seek advice from people based upon their expertise and not on their ideology, take the pressure off the generals to spout the party line and get their honest assessments about their needs to do the job, …” etc.

O.K. Maybe that wasn’t quick or simple but it strives to be thoughtful. I’m sure there is more to add to the “yes” response. In addition, it should be pointed out that despite all the talk about victory from the Bush administration they don’t have a clue as how to do it. Soldiers and civilians are dying because this administration never admits mistakes and stays the course regardless of outcome. Empty rhetoric is not a policy let alone a plan for victory. Liberal analysis can, and should be, quite independent of whether or not Bush is calling the shots. There is nothing to hesitate about.

This from Shadi Hamid at Democracy Arsenal:

You got to respect David Letterman taking it to Bill O’Reilly on Friday night. The tense exchange was certainly fun to watch. But something that Letterman said - or didn’t say - made me feel really, really uncomfortable.

They were discussing the Iraq war. O’Reilly in his usual abrasive way asked Letterman “do you want the United States to win in Iraq?” To my surprise (and dismay), Letterman appeared totally unable to answer the question and paused, as if really having to ponder the options. O’Reilly then added that “it’s an easy question.” Letterman, in what may have seemed like a good response to daily Kossacks but in my mind was rather pathetic, replied “it’s not easy for me because I’m thoughtful.”

I’m all for nuance and embracing complexity since most things in life are not, in fact, black and white. But, come on! Do you want the US to win in Iraq? What answer could you possibly give but “yes.” Letterman’s response captures all that is wrong with the hard left’s approach to foreign policy. It’s reactionary, simple-minded and all too often descends into laughable self-parody. Moreover, if I was living in some Red State watching Letterman doing his best John Kerry impression, I would probably freak out and pull the lever for the Big Red (elephant).

Yes, I dislike O’Reilly just as much as the next liberal, but let’s not lose sense of what’s at stake here. The Iraq War is not about scoring points against conservatives – it’s about trying to do what's best for the Iraqi people who deserve and demand more than the spectacle of disaffected liberals using Iraq as an excuse for reactionary Buchanesque forays into foreign policy

1 comment:

Robinitaface said...

The question isn't so easy to answer when no one really knows what it is we're fighting for anymore. "Do you want the US to win in Iraq?" Win? Win what?