Sell It With Sizzle
And now tapdancing in ringletts and dimples for the coveted John Tierney Unctious Hack spot at the Times, we have…drumroll please…Roger Cohen:
Much of the left, in both Europe and the United States, is so convinced that the Iraq invasion was no more than an American grab for oil and military bases, it seems to have forgotten the myriad crimes of Saddam Hussein.
There appears to be little hope that Bush will ever abandon his with-us-or-against-us take on the post-9/11 world. Division is the president's adrenalin; he abhors shades of gray. Nor does it seem likely that the America-hating, over-the-top ranting of the left – the kind that equates Guantánamo with the Gulag and holds that the real threat to human rights comes from the White House rather than Al Qaeda – will abate during the Bush presidency.
While it's nice to have yet another Cohen opining that they were right to be wrong about Iraq, Roger C. may want to acquaint himself with the fact that Duncan Hunter's rice pilaf Gitmo rubber chicken show has been replaced by somewhat more sobering impressions of the place that render the "Solzhenitsyn dance party" fantasies a bit absurd.
The country's little Iraq problem, it seems, will disappear if only the Dirty Fucking Hippies (who were, I suppose, axiomatically wrong to be right about Iraq) would embrace the…wait for it…Euston Manifesto:
The proper concern of the left after Saddam's overthrow should have been "the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order" rather than "picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention."
The manifesto observes that: "The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the left to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess."
As long as Cohen is going to dust off that hoary chestnut, I think it's only fair to reprise John Holbo's analysis of it:
If you truly, sincerely want to be forward-looking in this regard: admit you were wrong – wrong in terms of how it has turned out (obviously); wrong on the intellectual merits at the time, since there were those who correctly predicted how it would turn out, and produced – in advance – arguments against the war that we now know were basically sound. This second point is admittedly more complicated, but that some people opposed your bad arguments for the war with bad arguments against the war is, indeed, a pile of rubble not to be picked over at this time. Everyone who argued for the war was wrong about what Iraq was probably like, what it would probably be like post-invasion; and wrong about the character, motives and basic competence of the Bush administration. It was pretty hard to be pro-war without being wrong about at least four of those five. So do not attempt to make out how having been wrong puts you on double super-secret morally superior probation, somehow. It isn’t so hard to admit you were wrong. People make mistakes. You don’t have to shut up and never express an opinion about politics ever again. You just have to not persevere in putting lipstick on the pig you rode in on. Because it’s a pig. (Yes, of course, we STILL have to decide about the pig now it’s here. Fair enough.)
I'm left with the rather stunning impression that Cohen believes the only thing standing in the way of a peaceful resolution to the war is the dogged insistence of those on the left who want to remind the hawks just how wrong they were in the first place. It's, you know, uncivil.
Somebody get the hook.