I Was Against the War Before I Was For It…

20 Mar

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 Is America going to recede into a wound-licking isolationist posture every 30 years or so?  Nostalgaic for the sort of anti-war oppostion many of today's proud Leftists never had a chance to mount, the American Left (nevermind the International Left, especially the New Left Review and ZMag variety) is eager to draw striking parallels between Iraq and Vietnam.  Furthermore, any active (re: interventionist) foreign policy is rejected out-of-hand because outside intervention, for many on the Left, is inherently wrong.  Outsiders are incapable of understanding a foreign country, its people, politics and culture.

This goes beyond a simple critique of the disconnect between policy makers and the consequences of their ill-informed decisions; here I'm thinking of claims prior to start of the Vietnam War that the North Vietnamese would be defeated in weeks, if not months, contrary to what anyone with a passing knowledge of Vietnamese history would have told you about their impressive track record of decades long struggles against far stronger belligerent forces.  Or before the start of the current war, where predictions that "we'd be greeted as liberators," and that "it shouldn't take more forces to rebuild the country than it would to take out Saddam," failed to materialize.

It becomes its own brand of Orientalism: Western, "Anglo-American" powers cannot fathom the strange and idosyncratic ways of the near and far-East!  Foreign policy realism (since when has the Left been such hard-core realists?) meets an over-sized—and new found respect for—sovereignty, combined with a fetishizing of the foreign people themselves.  You can't go into Kosovo!  You have to respect national sovereignty!  It's a sectarian, civil conflict you have no business interfering with and can't possibly begin to understand!  Human universality is a myth, just ask [insert Post-Modern philospher]! I'm for human rights, but, unfortunately, the human condition is tragic and inscrutable, built upon ever shifting sands of protean and illusory veracity, our political structures a myriad of deceptive and predatory phantasmagoria designed to keep the elite strong by crushing the futile hopes of the weak and oppressed in a miasma of pain and blood-drenched material gain.  Or something to that effect.

Why might one be for a war that was mismanaged and demagogued from the start?  Fareed Zakaria makes the case for salvaging Iraq.  Hey, international Marxism failed to save the oppressed and downtrodden peoples of the world in the 20th century, so exactly what is next for the Left in the 21st—besides cynicism?

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