Iraq: a liberal cause

Iraq: a liberal cause
: Tom Friedman, bless him, finally comes out today and says what I’ve been saying for a long time:

The ouster of the tyrant Saddam Hussein was a liberal and humanitarian cause.

And the rebuilding of Iraq is a liberal cause.

But liberals don’t know it.

…this war is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan. The primary focus of U.S. forces in Iraq today is erecting a decent, legitimate, tolerant, pluralistic representative government from the ground up. I don’t know if we can pull this off. We got off to an unnecessarily bad start. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot….

On Iraq, there has to be more to the left than anti-Bushism….

For my money, the right liberal approach to Iraq is to say: We can do it better. Which is why the sign I most hungered to see in London was, “Thanks, Mr. Bush. We’ll take it from here.”

Try telling that to the liberals running for president.

: UPDATE: Jack Balkin, good liberal, agrees with Friedman that we must fix up Iraq but then he cops out, saying that Bush will not listen. Jack, when did that ever stop anyone from putting pressure on? That’s what we should be doing. Instead of continuing to carp, we should be demanding the best path to democracy in Iraq:

: Putting pressure on to have more troops, not fewer, to bring security to Iraq.

: Putting pressure on the U.N. to send more troops from more nations to show support for democracy in Iraq.

: Putting pressure on companies to be ready to invest in Iraq.

: Putting pressure on Arab nations to disavow the terrorism — yes, terrorism — that is targeting Iraqi civilians and not only military but also civilian workers from other countries.

Rather than just carping, liberals should be demanding that the president — but first, their presidential candidates — do more to grow democracy and civilization in Iraq and the Middle East.

There’s plenty we can do, Jack, plenty.

  • billg

    The curse of American politics is this: Liberals are afraid to advocate the cause of democracy and its further spread, and think conservativism is just a cover for white people who are sure everything went to hell with FDR. Conservatives, of course, provide ample reason to believe this.
    For those old enough to remember Nixon’s “southern strategy”, we can blame him, yet again, for the agony of bearing yet another cross.

  • Okay, you convinced me, I’m voting against the Tax-And-Spend liberal guy — George “Dubya” Bush.
    BTW, I can’t believe you don’t think that there’s a problem when the press people for the president deliberately lie to reporters. In the future, we’ll have to consider the possibility that this is another of their subterfuges. And what did they lie for? So the President could spend taxpayer dollars to help him get reelected in a campaign stop in Baghdad. I don’t think there was anything more to it, huge risk, huge cost, just for a few photo ops. Bad deal all around.

  • Dave, sorry the ‘h’ was dropped from your name — it must have been a bug in the comment software.
    In the mean time, though, you’re Not Getting It. Even if you don’t like Bush, if you’re a liberal you should be supporting the war.

  • Charlie, isn’t it past your bedtime?? This always happens when you don’t get your nap. Stop hitting your sister!

  • Even the liberals who didn’t and don’t support the war against Iraq (like myself) have advocated NOT pulling out and abandoning Iraq. Yet you and the right-wingers keep spinning the message this way, Jeff. Howard Dean. Wesley Clark. John Kerry. John Edwards. Hillary Clinton. Tom Daschle. They, and the vast majority of their party support building real democracy in Iraq, while the President proposes half-assed measures that screw us and the Iraqi people in the long run.

  • Jeremy

    Oh yeah, all the Democrats really are serious about Iraq, so much that they voted against funding the troops there and rebuilding the place. Real serious.
    Heck, Hillary didn’t even wait til she left Iraq to start badmouthing.
    And they want the UN. Oh yeah, that’s worked elsewhere. The UN couldn’t even protect their own compound in Iraq – do you really think they could crack down on terrorism? Have they done that anywhere, ever? No.
    More troops = More targets. The only sensible course is to train as many Iraqis as quickly as possible. The problem isn’t fighting, but finding the right people to fight. More troops per se isn’t the anwer, but people who know the places. The Iraqis themselves.

  • I wonder what the Right would be saying if it were a Democrat trying to bring Democracy to Iraq.

  • rabidfox

    We wouldn’t be saying much of anything because the Dems have historically done nothing about terrorism. We’d still be debating if we have the moral authority to go into Afganistan after Bin Laudin.

  • Here’s the sort of speech the right engages in when our troops are under fire.

  • Menlo Bob

    Not quite like the Marshall Plan in that it isn’t a misguided attempt to suck up to Soviet interests disguised as charity. Backtracking on sanctions and continuing the UN Oil for Food program would be the rough equivalent of the Marshall Plan. Rather, it aims to smoke out Islamist rats of a peculiar venom while showing the otherwise motivated an opportunity.

  • Charlie

    Uh, Dave, I didn’t follow that argument: was it that because I get testy when I’m sleep deprived, Tom Friedman is wrong to point out that liberals who continue to argue against the war in Iraq are violating their stated principles?
    Or was it that because George Bush is doing what liberals always said the Right Wing ought to be doing, it’s clear that liberals were wrong after all?
    Or was it that Iraqis are only entitled to aspire to democracy and freedom when it is politically convenient to the Democratic Party?

  • I think everybody’ll be happier when they shake off their handcuffs (ideology) and come to grips with what’s really happening in Iraq. It’s a mess now, but it would’ve been a mess if we’d have left it alone. What matters now is extricating ourselves and implicating the Iraqis in running their own country. All the Right or the Left do is offer convenient filters for all the stuff we don’t wanna hear. Useful for dinner conversations, but unhelpful for building a society from scratch with a population that has no idea where to start.