Friday, June 23, 2006

Sullivan: War Critic, War Advocate

Andrew Sullivan: sometimes wonderful, sometimes exasperating. He longs for a savior (McCain) to salvage the war. He’s too smart and good at heart to believe the deceptions and immorality put out by the Bush administration. But he won’t allow himself to believe that Iraq is an impossible quagmire. He sees that the Iraq war is being used for vile political purposes by an administration he despises, but doesn’t favor an end to that war. Here’s his latest:
Unable to access intelligence, forced to rely on news reports, blogs and other sources for information, I don't have an alternative master-plan to win either. I would support an increase in troop levels, a clear-and-hold strategy, a more aggressive military commitment to protect the infrastructure, and the kind of outreach to alienated Sunnis that Maliki and Khalilzad are attempting. But as long as Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are running the show, I cannot say I am optimistic that such a sane strategy will be employed or that it will succeed. It's like asking Ken Lay to turn Enron back into an ethical, profit-making company. But what else can I do?
The obvious answer to me is, “Support an end to the war”. But that option is not open to him:
I agree with John McCain that peremptory withdrawal or a fixed date would amount to surrender to an enemy that seems to be gaining momentum and strength. It would mean a historic betrayal of all those Iraqis who want a better future; and consigning Iraq to a new and more lethal version of the Taliban's Afghanistan. It would put us in a more vulnerable position than we were on September 10, 2001.
I agree, Andrew: withdrawal would expose us to all of this. But is staying preventing it? Not from all I’ve read. Yes, withdrawing from Iraq would be admitting defeat at the hands of the Iraqi insurgency. But that is not the same thing as admitting defeat at the hands of Al Qaeda/Taliban-style Islamism (despite the Bush administration’s deeply cynical, manipulative conflation of the two in its rhetoric). Are not the Iraq insurgency and international Islamic terrorism separate phenomena, with a small overlap? Indeed, I think the US would be much better poised to deal with the broader threat of politicized, international, violent Islamism (to say nothing of Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea) if it disentangled itself from Iraq.

Even if Iraq is as important as you and other pro-war advocates believe, how long do you think we should stay? Another 3 years? Another 10 years? How long before you are willing to declare Iraq a lost cause? How bad do things have to get? I never thought we should have invaded. But once we did, I found the “Pottery Barn Rule” pretty convincing. But now my patience with ineptitude, torture, and our soldiers getting killed is over. It’s time to invoke the “Bull in the China Shop rule” or the “Shit or Get off the Pot Rule” (coined by yours truly here).

Sullivan then goes on to bash Democrats for being ambivalent about the war in the first place, and for wanting to get out of Iraq now, and for disagreeing about how to do it. All I can say is, I would rather vote for a party that disagrees about how to get out of Iraq than one that agrees on how to “stay the course”. “The course” is the last place the US should be staying.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew Sullivan's Conclusion Couldnt Be More Wrong

"For him, national security is simply part of a political game. I should therefore break the news to my liberal and Democratic readers: Rove is winning this game for now. If you stick to your anti-war position, you are left with hoping for catastrophe, which a great political party should be above."

He may be right that to Rove national security is simply part of a political game, but that doesnt mean that anyone else including Sullivan should treat as just a game or buy into Rove's rules.

Its not just a game and opposing the war does not mean being left hoping for catastrophe. Sullivan should "be above" repeating such an obviously false claim. You could say the same thing about Rove's position on the treatment of detainees and Sullivan's opposition. Given the fact that Sullivans opposition to the administrations postion on the treatment of detainees.

If you stick to your [opposition to the Bush administrations detainee policies] position, you are left with hoping for catastrophe, which a great political party should be above. Is Sullivan left with hoping that the policies result in more torture, false confessions, and bad intelligence information resulting from the policies. Obviously not.

Is a person opposed to the Bush administrations environmental policies left only hoping for environmental castastrophe, absolutely not. Is a person opposed to the Bush administrations reckless fiscal polices left only hoping for economic melt down, no again. Its strange that Sulllivan should readily play into Rove's game mentality - he should know better. Sullivans claim that being opposed to the war is tantamount to hoping for catastrophe is not only wrong headed but supports those extremists who try to assert that opposing the war is equivalent to hating America. Yes this is the game that Rove is playing, and people who help him with this game as Sullivan does with this statement are just helping him in his game that ends up hurting America.

Sullivan owes his readers a retraction and an apology.

7:23 PM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Good point, anonymous. Thanks for posting here. It is frustrating when Sullivan, despite his often fierce criticism of this administration, swallows whole its Dem-bashing narratives. I agree that the "hoping for catastrophe" conclusion he comes to is completely wrong, and I like the analogies you use to other areas of policy.

You should e-mail this criticism to him, and see if he responds.

7:32 PM, June 24, 2006  

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