A sheep in Wolfie’s clothing

A sheep in Wolfie’s clothing

: For his column today, David Brooks may lose his title as the conservatives liberals like to like for his column today — and by agreeing with him, I will only solidify my title as the liberal liberals like to dislike:

Let us now praise Paul Wolfowitz. Let us now take another look at the man who has pursued – longer and more forcefully than almost anyone else – the supposedly utopian notion that people across the Muslim world might actually hunger for freedom.

Let us look again at the man who’s been vilified by Michael Moore and the rest of the infantile left, who’s been condescended to by the people who consider themselves foreign policy grown-ups, and who has become the focus of much anti-Semitism in the world today – the center of a zillion Zionist conspiracy theories, and a hundred zillion clever-Jew-behind-the-scenes calumnies.

It’s not necessary to absolve Wolfowitz of all sin or to neglect the postwar screw-ups in Iraq. Historians will figure out who was responsible for what, and Wolfowitz will probably come in for his share of the blame. But with political earthquakes now shaking the Arab world, it’s time to step back and observe that over the course of his long career – in the Philippines, in Indonesia, in Central and Eastern Europe, and now in the Middle East – Wolfowitz has always been an ardent champion of freedom….

His faith in people probably led to some of the mistakes in Iraq. But with change burbling in Beirut, with many young people proudly hoisting the Lebanese flag (in a country that was once a symbol of tribal factionalism), it’s time to take a look at this guy again.

If we liberals were smart, we’d be coopting the issue of freedom and human rights — the way that conservatives coopted it from us… and the way the Bill Clinton coopted fiscal responsibility from conservatives.

Agree or disagree about how we got here. Agree or disagree about what comes next (read Brooks’ column: even Wolfowitz says that Iraq must be the military exception). I don’t even care if you don’t want to give credit to Wolfowitz and Bush; I just don’t want to see the fruits of their strategy rejected just because it is their strategy.

There’s a hole in the dam of tyranny in the Middle East and freedom is flowing. Damnit. We should be holding the United Nations accountable for spreading freedom and not standing in the way. We should be figuring out how we can support movements of freedom — without invasion — in Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain…..

One small way to do that is to give voice to the freedom-loving people of those nations. That’s the small thing we can do.

As I’ve mentioned before, Wolfowitz himself is an aggressive reader of weblogs. He reads them in Iraq and Iran because they sometimes give him better intelligence about what’s really happening than his own intelligence forces. And he clearly reads them because he likes to hear the voice of freedom.

So there: That’s something about which every one of you can agree with Paul Wolfowitz. Don’t let that scare you.

We should be doing a better job reading these voices and spreading their word. Halley Suitt, Rebecca MacKinnon and others at the last Harvard confab want to get lots of people to vow to find 10 fresh new voices and blog and blogroll them. I think 10 is light; it’s a discipline we need to follow all the time.

And we need to find better ways to support those who are being oppressed because of their speech. I despair to find better ways to bring attention to the bloggers arrested in Iran and threatened in Bahrain and Maylasia (and God knows where else).

If you don’t like the way Wolfowitz is trying to spread freedom in the world, then try to find new ways. But standing back and not trying is not acceptable. Freedom is the best cause of all.