Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Conservative" Callousness

This leading intellectual thinker of the right weighs in with his own moral calculus on Iraq (via Andrew Sullivan):

[T]he argument that moral responsibility for whatever happens rests on us is not clear to me. Where were our intentions not honorable? At which point during the last four and a half years were we trying to incite Iraqis to kill Iraqis? At which point were we doing anything other than try to help them—however clumsily and sometimes wrong-headedly—to get their act together as a nation? How long do we have to struggle with such efforts before our moral responsibility can fairly be considered to have been discharged?

...Most voters, in their everyday lives, feel that if they make a blunder that causes someone distress, there is some finite and proportionate action they can take as recompense. That is the common understanding of moral responsibility.

How easy to wash our hands of what we've done! We need merely ask ourselves some entirely rhetorical questions that only serve to illuminate that what we did, we did with the best intentions, and suddenly the fault of the war lies entirely with the Iraqi people, who Derbyshire describes earlier in this post as "a people...determined to kill, cook, and eat each other." Little did I know that once the Iraqis have engaged in cannibalism, the slate is wiped clean!

Of course, there are actual answers to these questions, answers Derbyshire did not think of or doesn't care to reveal. I'll give it a try. Where were our intentions not honorable? When we made a deceitful case for war premised fundamentally on our own unreasonable and narrow national security interests. At which point during the last four and a half years were we trying to incite Iraqis to kill Iraqis? When we co-opted militias wholesale into the Iraqi police and security forces so that they could rampage among the Sunni populace, so we could argue that we were enjoying success in our efforts to train Iraqi forces. At which point were we doing anything other than try to help them—however clumsily and sometimes wrong-headedly—to get their act together as a nation? When we rushed through the process of holding elections that only further divided the country, so we could argue that were enjoying success in building a stable government. How long do we have to struggle with such efforts before our moral responsibility can fairly be considered to have been discharged? When as many Americans have died as Iraqis that have been killed in this war? When Iraq is stable again? When we are destroyed as a nation, as we destroyed Iraq? That one I truly don't know the answer to, though Derbyshire's answer is assuredly "When those savages decided not to cooperate with our experiment in imperialism disguised as democratization."

The egregiousness of this and Derbyshire's other claims do not prevent him from being a voice on the right. The banality of his argument, the utter failure to provide any illumination on how we got into Iraq or what to do about it now, do not prevent him from being a voice on the right. The pomposity, hubris and self-righteousness do not prevent him from being a voice on the right. In fact, these traits are what guarantee him a place as a voice on the right. To argue that the publication of the ravings of this man, ravings that in genuine polite society would qualify him only as a pompous windbag, is a sign of broken discourse in this country would be a mistake. The invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq indict us on that score to a greater extent than the rantings of this fool, or many others.

2 comments:

adam said...

How can someone by so wholly ignorant? Sadly, this is probably how many feel. They need to read Riverbend's blog.

Eric said...

Great post X. Solid skewering.