Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Liberal Hawks Still Don't Get It

Cross-posted at the Agonist.

I left a comment on this post by Matthew Yglesias, and realized it's worthy of reprinting here. I've argued in the past that those of us who opposed the invasion of Iraq shouldn't seek to cast out or exile liberal hawks who still have something to offer to the debate on what to do about Iraq now (the hippie-hating reactionary liberal hawks are a different matter.) And I appreciate that many of them have spent long hours trying to come to grips with how they could have supported such a disastrous invasion. But it still irks me when they just don't quite get why the invasion was not only a bad idea, but wrong. Here's my comment in full (after I quote Yglesias):

The main point was that there was simply never any good reason to believe the more idealistic aspiration sometimes associated with the war had any decent prospects of success.

I don't like to be so nit-picky towards those who are sincerely reviewing their own reasons for supporting the war, but the humanitarian justification for an invasion of Iraq was never a good one, even if one happened to believe that it would be a success. Put simply, you don't amass armies of hundreds of thousands of soldiers to go toppling other people's governments (elected or not) on the notion that you're doing it for their own good. There's little support for it in either international law or theories of war. When you add to that the fact that it seemed blatantly obvious to me and others like me at the time that a stable Iraqi democracy was an unlikely result of even a humitarian-motivated invasion, it seems all the more foolish to have supported invasion. And then when you add to that the fact that our invasion had little to do with humanitarian concerns and more to do with our own national security and imperial (yes, I used that word) interests, it seems incredibly silly to have thought that a humanitarian rationale for the invasion would somehow survive such narrow and selfish considerations.

I honestly don't understand how anyone managed to think the invasion of Iraq was a good idea, for any reason, humanitarian or otherwise. I think it was only possible when intelligent and thoughtful people got too hung up on stories of Saddam's grotesque abuses of power and human rights, over-rationalized a fairly simple moral issue (the illegality of preventive war), bought into the WMD fears, bought into the President's rhetoric, or all of the above.

I'm not asking for an ultimate mea culpa. It just seemed plainly evident to me at the time that the invasion was wrong, and I wish the liberal hawks could see why.

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