Monday, July 30, 2007

Are Liberals Becoming as Dogmatic as Conservatives Regarding the War?

Ever since the invasion of Iraq became more than a twinkle in Bill Kristol's eye, American conservatives have supported it dogmatically--as they have supported almost all of Bush's endeavors. It's no secret that dogmatism is the plague of politics, and that it is even more prevalent among conservatives than among liberals...but the tenacity with which conservatives have defended the indefensible in Iraq is genuinely astounding. There are, you will note, still those who will even try to defend the administration's duplicitous case concerning WMDs.

Liberals--as is so often their way--spent a longish time just being rolled over by the force of conservative certainty. But finally the liberal anti-war movement began gathering steam, and it now seems to be barreling along with a fair amount of momentum.

My question is: are liberals now in danger of becoming as dogmatic as conservatives concerning the war? Or is this just the kind of lame-ass, quasi-skeptical worries that...well, make it easy for the force of conservative certainty to roll us over so much of the time?

I ask this for a couple of reasons. Among them are:

The administration now says that it needs until November to produce a proper assessment of progress in Iraq. Some liberals are screaming "no more Friedmans!", whereas I'm inclined to say: this is important. If the can make a case that they really need until November, then they get until November. But that's a hard deadline this time. NO EXTENSIONS.

And now pieces like this, by Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon, have started popping up. Not that I trust Pollack, of course. But it does make me wonder.

The worst possible outcome, it seems, would be to endure five years worth of botched war and then pull out on the eve of victory. Decisions here are difficult, of course, given that the deliberations of those of us who are serious about this war must take place against the deafening background noise of perpetual conservative cheerleading, and non-stop propaganda and disinformation coming from the administration. But that doesn't relieve us of the obligation to be as rational about this decision as possible. It would, of course, be easier for us to be rational about this decision if conservatives, including the administration, would get serious about it. But since that is not likely to happen, we have to persevere under the prevailing conditions.


Blogger Jim said...

Is Charlie Brown being dogmatic if he assumes that Lucy will pull the football away yet again?

If there is solid evidence that the situation may be improving and more time is needed to see if this is true, why is it not being trumpeted to high heaven by the Bush administration?

Instead, the "good news" is being delivered by proxy. Why? The only reason I can think of is so that the administration can deny every saying what Pollack and O'Hanlon claim.

What is the worst case if Pollack & O'Hanlon are wrong (as their track record suggests) and we give the administration until November until we start pushing hard for the withdrawal. That means 3 more months of death and mutilation of our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our husbands and wives, our mothers and fathers. Their deaths would be in vain.

What is the worst case if Pollack & O’Hanlon are right and we keep pushing hard for the withdrawal? I do not see the political process forcing a withdrawal in a 3-month time window. Before we could force the Administration to back down the "good news" would most likely become clear for all to see.

Those of us opposed to the war would prefer to see a peaceful and stable Iraq, but either we do not believe it is possible at this juncture, or we do not believe that the Bush administration is capable of doing it.

If it were clear that the situation in Iraq was becoming appreciably more stable and that our strategy in Iraq was working, I am certain that much of the support for withdrawal would evaporate, and Congress would support staying the course.

So, I don't see a compelling case to stop pressuring Congress to force Bush to bring our troops home.

(In other words, significant time will elapse from when we begin pushing hard for withdrawal until the withdrawal happens. Many Americans will die during that period. If the situation in Iraq actually improves, that will stop the withdrawal movement. If the situation does not significantly improve -- as appears most likely -- then the longer we delay starting the push for withdrawal, the more Americans will die needlessly.)

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I know you don't like him, but I find Atrios' inductive logic here persuasive:

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The eve of *what*?

5:31 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

The *hypothetical* eve of victory.

Lord knows that's not where we actually are.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm afraid that certain well-worn phrases, with which you're definitely familiar, are operative here.

Namely: War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Knowledge is ignorance.

1:46 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home