Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Tale of Two Lefties

Today, people the world over are in mourning in the wake of the now infamous London bombings. If there is any lesson to be learned from this unspeakable act of violence against innocent civilians, it is undoubtedly the need for inordinate vigilance. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the only appropriate response to these cowardly terrorists is a steadfast resolve to see their unequivocal defeat.

As it happens, the current phase of the war, namely Iraq, has divided the American public along Party lines. It goes without saying, by and large, that the Right is fer it, while the Left is agin it. Actually, many on the Left quite vociferously oppose Bush’s policies, and the US invasion of Iraq in specific. With that in mind, one might expect ‘progressive’ blogs to be highly and continually critical of the developments in Iraq…post Saddam. No surprise there, but how might lefties react to the murder of dozens of Brits in cold blood? To gauge their reaction, let’s look at two of the most popular ‘progressive’ blogs. First up, Kos:
Bush's latest rationale for maintaining the course in Iraq adventure has been the "flypaper strategy" -- it's better to fight the terrorists over there than at home. Nevermind that the Iraqis never asked to have their country turned into a dangerous den of terrorism, insurgency, violence and death. For war supporters looking for an excuse, any excuse, to justify the continued disastrous American presence in Iraq, the flypaper rationale was as good as any.
Are we to believe that Saddam’s Iraq was free from “violence and death”? Further, are we to ignore the masses of Iraqis that braved dangerous streets to exercise a voting franchise that had long been denied them? Imagine, for a moment, if the protestors of the Revolutionary War, or even the Civil War, had succeeded in sufficiently demoralizing those valorous soldiers and pressuring politicians to end the struggle prematurely. Not unlike the way in which the Viet Nam Conflict played out.
Except that it's not working. The war isn't making the West any safer. In fact, it's creating a whole new class of terrorists. Today it was London. Next time it could easily be the United States. And waging the war in Iraq, rather than make us safer, is further motivating Islamic terrorists to strike at the West.
Um…who initially declared war on whom? Was it not Osama bin Ladin, motivated by his crazed, blood-thirsty religious ideology? And in reality, those that comprise the ‘insurgency’ in Iraq are former Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters who are sympathetic with al Qaeda, rather than 'ordinary' Iraqis. Furthermore, what distinguishes the Iraqi theater from other potential targets of terrorism (western cities) is that the enemy has engaged soldiers, instead of civilians (that is, beyond Iraqi civilians that become targets of convenience).
[E]very one of those deaths today sickens me. Those committing these attacks, like those committing any terrorist attack, need to be brought down.

But Bush (and Blair) took their eyes off the prize -- neglected to finish the job in Afghanistan, let Al Qaida off the hook to rebuild and reorganize, and helped swell its ranks with an unecessary and inept campaign in Iraq.

There are consequences to the mess in Iraq. And today, we're seeing one of them. Unfortunately, it won't be the last.
How very crass! With the bodies of the victims of today's atrocity not yet cold, Kos couldn't pass up an opportunity to politicize this event by placing it at the feet of Bush and Blair. Sure, he says that those responsible “need to be brought down”…BUT…Bush (and Blair) took their eyes off the prize”. Those that planned and carried out the deed are to blame…period!

Apparently Kos (among others) is under the impression that the scope of al Qaeda was confined to Afghanistan alone and bin Ladin patiently awaited the arrival of Coalition Forces to his cozy cave. So, perhaps Bush ought to have simply arrested bin Ladin and his associates, while leaving Saddam to plot, scheme and bribe United Nations officials with oil, unmolested and in ‘peace’.

There is however, another Lefty blogger: Matthew Yglesias, one with a large readership, who also weighed in on the current tragedy. Note how his sentiments contrast with those of Kos:
It's probably best to refrain from offering much commentary beyond condolences to the victims and their families at this point, but "flypaper" theories of the war on terrorism aren't looking so hot this morning.
The poke at Iraq policy notwithstanding, the post was appropriately reverential and restrained. What's more, in a subsequent post, Yglesias came dangerously close to defending Bush, in terms of his leadership in the aftermath of 9/11.
[m]uch of the grief President Bush took for his post-9/11 exhortation to the American people to "go shopping" was quite wrongheaded. The main purpose of these sorts of attacks (nuclear terrorism is another matter) is precisely to provoke panic, and trying to get people to stay relatively calm and continue to lead normal lives is an crucial part of sound leadership.
I have very little in common with ‘progressive’ political philosophy, and rarely agree with the positions that Yglesias takes. Regardless, I’m able to give credit where it’s due.

Update: Regrettably, but sadly not astonishingly, Dada Head follows Kos’ lead, in that he’s analyzing the possible political benefits of the tragedy in London, while blasting the Right for doing the same.
Is it inappropriate to bring up 'politics'? Maybe, but it also might be necessary. We are still suffering from the reluctance of Democrats (and the media) to ask hard questions in the wake of 9/11, thus allowing the Right to 'frame' the event - and the response to it - for all time. Basically, Dems foolishly assumed that their goodwill would be matched from the other side of the aisle, that the GOP wouldn't politicize 9/11 if they didn't. Wrong.

Of course, the impact of the London bombings won't be as severe as that of the attack on the WTC. So we don't need to go crazy worrying about the political fallout. But unfortunately, the Right has created an atmosphere where we cannot simply put politics aside.
And similarly in another post:
'Politics' is, for most of, simply the practice of critically analyzing the most important issues of our time. Asking us to put aside politics for the day is tantamount to calling for a moratorium on rational thought.

Which, of course, is precisely what the Right would like, and precisely what they got in the aftermath of 9/11.

Have they no sense of decency?