Towards A Good Samaritan World

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I would be interested to know: are there more penitent doves now saying "Bush was right all along," or more cocky hawks crowing (to use a triple mixed bird metaphor) that "Bush was right all along." The latter, perhaps: but still, today's headline in The Independent seems like a landmark:

It is barely six weeks since the US President delivered his second inaugural address, a paean to liberty and democracy that espoused the goal of "ending tyranny in our world". Reactions around the world ranged from alarm to amused scorn, from fears of a new round of "regime changes" imposed by an all-powerful American military, to suspicions in the salons of Europe that this time Mr Bush, never celebrated for his grasp of world affairs, had finally lost it. No one imagined that events would so soon cause the President's opponents around the world to question whether he had got it right.

But what, exactly, was Bush right about? Right to invade Iraq, presumably, but why? Here the progress is somewhat halting:

The 2003 invasion of Iraq may have been justified by a giant fraud, but that, and above all the January election to which it led, transfixing the Arab world, has proved a catalyst.

The liberal intelligentsia should revisit the old debates. They should figure out which arguments were partly right, and which should truly be thrown on the dustbin of history. As an example of the latter, take this argument which was voiced in an article defending libertarianism this morning:

The libertarian rests content to let Utah be Utah and San Francisco be San Francisco—and to let Iraq be Iraq.

By now, the claim that to leave Saddam in power was to "let Iraq be Iraq" is a grotesque distortion. Iraqis hated the order under which they lived; they welcomed its overthrow; and most of them embraced the democratic alternative which we offered them. Now we are "letting Iraq be Iraq," by electing its own leaders.

Other anti-war arguments may prove to have been more tenable. But liberals need to go beyond admitting that they got it wrong. They need to figure out why they got it wrong, so that it doesn't happen again.

Here's a good place to start: Never condone totalitarianism.

Another confused liberal reports from New York: "the cognitive dissonance is palpable."


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