A View From The Handbasket

Tuesday, April 04, 2006
We're either with them or against them
Posted by neros_fiddle at 3:14 PM
My life is consumed at the moment with matters that I'm sure you would find exceedingly dull, but I couldn't in good conscience let my loyal readers (all three of you) go any longer without fresh outrage to consider. So, in time-honored Internet tradition, I'll steal an idea from somewhere.

Over at Glenn Greenwald's excellent blog, Anonymous Liberal dissects a recent column by Mark Steyn, in which Steyn argues that if we just stop saying nice things about Islam, success in Iraq will follow.

In the comments, a fascinating contradiction in the neocon agenda is teased out. On the one hand, we're reminded often that we're helping the Iraqis, and the Muslims in general, by invading and/or threatening their governments into granting them greater "freedom." Over and over, Bush says something like, "Some people believe Muslims can't be free. I disagree, and that's why I invaded Iraq."

And then, of course, the reason we were given *before* the invasion was all about the evil Muslims wanting to nuke us, about striking against "terrorism" in its "geographical base". It's as if people like Cheney (quoted in the previous link) wanted people to think that as long as we bombed things in the general vicinity of bin Laden and killed people who looked like him, we were fighting terror.

And so, at its core, the case for war is dissonant. We're trying to liberate people that we're being told to fear for their irrationality and violence. Eventually, that mindset must collapse in on itself.

And as if on cue, we read Andy McCarthy at National Review Online:

I think it's possible Americans could be persuaded that we must step it up and achieve an unambiguous military victory in Iraq to prevent terrorists from winning a share of power in an outcome that would be a humiliating defeat of the U.S. (which would be seen as confirming bin Laden's claims that we lack resolve). That is a national interest that people can support, ardently, if the case can be made convincingly.

But that case would have to be made. And making it would be an uphill battle at a time when (a) the debate at home has become about drawing down our presence, (b) the public case for why military victory in Iraq is crucial to success in the overall war on terror has long been neglected, (c) the administration has told the country that major combat operations are over and establishing a democratic Iraqi government is what matters, (d) the American people have understandably come to view Iraqis as not nearly grateful enough for all we have sacrificed on their behalf, and (e) Iraq is looming so large in the coming mid-term elections.

Catch that? The American people have understandably come to view Iraqis as not nearly grateful enough for all we have sacrificed on their behalf.

So what's your view? Is the best way to fight terror to demonize Muslims as angry, violent people who freak out over cartoons, or to "liberate" them and spend billions rebuilding their countries after we blow them up? How long can those exist simultaneously in the American brain?

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