Day By Day

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The War Gulf

The recent upsurge in violence in Iraq has prompted blog postings that make clear the vast and probably unbridgable chasm that separates left from right on the subject of the war.

First from the left we present Glen Greenwald, a NYC "litigator" who proclaims his hatred for the Bush administration here.

Why does he hate Bush so much?

He cites a number of administration officials speaking to the effect that the increased violence in Iraq over the past couple of months was at least in part an attempt on the part of insurgents to influence the American elections. He notes that since the elections Iraqi violence has continued unabated and may have even escalated. From this he concludes that the rising tide of violence was in no way related to the American elections, that administration officials were well aware of that, and that they dishonestly drew a spurious connection in order to panic Americans into voting Republican so as to deny the terorists a victory at the polls.

Greenwald writes:
The idea that the sectarian violence in Iraq, which has been spiraling out of control since the beginning of the year, had anything to do with trying to make Democrats win the election was always as transparently false -- stupid even -- as it was repugnant. Yet they say anything, and the media largely lets them get away with it.

And now the incontrovertible proof is here that what they said was a lie designed to manipulate Americans into voting Republican out of a desire to punish the Democrat-favoring terrorists in Iraq, and what are the consequences? They lie and manipulate like this not only because they lack any shred of integrity and character -- although that's true -- but also because they know they can do so with impunity.

Ponder how corrupt and misleading their coordinated pre-election claim was: All the increased violence in Iraq was just about the midterm election, not a sign of a spiraling civil war. It was just The Terrorists who hate Bush, because he is so tough with them, trying to help the Democrats. Nothing was really that bad in Iraq. Once the elections are over, it will all subside, because it's only about that.

The only thing worse than government leaders lying to their citizens so blatantly about a war is lying in order to benefit themselves politically for cheap electoral gain, so that's exactly what Bush officials and Bush followers do.
In other words what happens in Iraq is unrelated to American domestic politics and the outcome of the recent elections was not a factor in the calculations of terrorists. This is at least consistent. The same people who for decades declared that the communist threat was a paranoid vision concocted by Republicans to win elections, are now assuring us that the Islamist threat is more of the same. To Greenwald and his friends on the left, Iraq, like Vietnam before it, was an illegitimate and ill-considered imperialist venture, imposed on a gullible American public by lying right-wing politicians seeking political gain and an excuse to suppress civil liberties, and made possible through the active cooperation of a complaisant mainstream media.

Don Surber, a West Virginia journalist, takes a different view. He writes:
Dem victory brings chaos to Iraq
The Democratic Party victory is seen as a victory for the opponents of democracy in the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular....

In October, violence ramped up in an effort to bring Bush to his knees, politically, at home. But instead of ebbing, the violence has escalated, as the various bad guys see the U.S. forces leaving soon and so grab for all the power they can get.

How can things get any worse, voters asked on Nov. 7.

On Nov. 24, they got their answer....

It always amazes me, but no longer surprises, how the “peaceniks” always wind up creating more chaos, more deaths and more misery....
Read him here.

Surber assumes that Democratic victory in the recent elections was noted in Iraq and was widely assumed to herald American withdrawal. Thus encouraged, the insurgents escalated their attacks while the Shiite majority, no longer believing that America would remain to protect them, have responded in kind. What had been an insurgent attempt to drive America out of Iraq has now become a turf fight of the most vicious kind.

Like most on the right, Surber sees the Islamist threat as real, just like the communist threat before it, and he accepts the administration's argument that the Iraq war is an essential element in the larger war on terror. He does not see in the Bush administration any plausible threat to civil liberties, and sees the war effort as an entirely legitimate, even a humanitarian, exercise of American power. He, too, looks back toward Vietnam, but the parallel he draws is with the end, not the prosecution, of that war.

As in Vietnam, Surber argues, Democrats are forcing a withdrawal that will be nothing short of betrayal. In effect we,
are throwing away lives of our Iraqi allies who were foolish enough to trust us when President Bush said we were in Iraq to stay.
He notes that,
The American pullout in Vietnam led not to peace, but to the fall of Saigon and the killing fields of Cambodia, where evil men killed 2 million people.
What now, he wonders, will be the human cost of withdrawal.

Each of these positions is founded on logical extrapolation from fundamental assumptions. The problem is that these assumptions are deeply felt and ultimately irreconcilable. Either the Islamist threat is real or it is a paranoid fantasy. Either the Iraq venture is a war of liberation or it results from baser and illegitimate motives. The American presence there is either a restraint on or a provocation to violence. I could go on, but the point is clear --the political left and right cannot be reconciled.

That leaves the moderates on both sides. Is it possible to forge a bi-partisan moderate coalition that can sustain a continued effort in Iraq? We will see,,,, we will see.

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