Monday, December 19, 2005

True Liberals Support Democracy!

As promised here is my response to Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory. I address his comments point by point starting with:

(1) I did not say that pro-war advocates never mention Iraqi dead civilians killed by the U.S. military. I said they rarely mention it, which is undeniably true. And those who do mention it do so in order to dismiss it as a sufficient reason for opposing the war (or, as in your cites, to complain about the coverage it is getting).

Rather than once again accusing you of making false claims I will ask you for examples. What you will find while searching for them are far more detailed reports than the MSM ever gives.

It can’t be denied that 30,000 dead Iraqis packs a significant emotional punch. And it’s at least 30,000 dead, since that’s an American estimate. I’m not interested in bickering over the number or the identity of each of them. Other estimates from months ago put the number at 100,000 civilians, and the important point is that no matter what number you want to believe, it’s a huge amount of innocent Iraqi people who were killed by this war. Even pro-war advocates – perhaps especially them, since the war is purportedly being fought to liberate Iraqis – must feel some strong sense of sorrow and remorse over this huge number of deaths.

Yes 30,000 people killed is a tragedy on a tremendous scale. And no 30,000 is the highest reputable estimate by non U.S. Governmental sources. It falls somewhere between 27 and 31,000. You say you are not interested in bickering over the number yet you cite yet another bogus source. Other than your flawed logic this is the biggest problem I had with your first post. You fill it with inaccurate and often grossly exaggerated propaganda. I have to question why this is. Are you just completely uninformed or is it intentional?

The 100,000 number you cite was long ago debunked.

I can not speak for others but of course I feel sorrow and remorse for the Iraqi people who have lost their own lives or those of their loved ones. I feel sorrow and remorse for those who have been injured. However at the same time I feel extreme joy and pride for my country and our men and women in uniform who have helped the Iraqi people remove a ruthless dictator who oppressed, tortured, and murdered those same people for 30 years.

Now for some real numbers over 300,000 of his own people killed by execution, chemical attacks, and torture. Over 1 million killed in his wars. I would say 30,000 is a very small price to pay to end that 30 year killing spree.

I am sure you have heard the term “Freedom isn’t Free”. Rush said it well.

Your argument however brings about a larger one. If you are arguing that the U.S. bares a large part of the responsibility for these 30,000 deaths (and I do not argue that) then you also have to admit we bare a large responsibility for the million before. You also have to admit if you are being intellectually honest that we have a moral responsibility to end that cycle of torture and death. As a Liberal I can not ignore that moral responsibility.

But the reason pro-war advocates are able to still favor the war despite the existence of huge numbers of dead Iraqi civilians is the same reason that I can oppose the war despite the emergence of democratic elections in Iraq – while it has a strong emotional effect, it does not, in itself, speak to whether the war is, on balance, a war that we ought to have fought or should keep fighting, particularly from the perspective of U.S. interests — which is, for me at least, what determines whether this war is a good idea.

You can absolutely make that argument just don’t claim to be a liberal when you do. You sound like a Vietnam era Republican. As a liberal I support my country promoting Democratic elections and removing murderous dictators from power. Especially when said dictator is a sworn enemy of the United States and has been proven to support our enemies as Saddam Hussein did.

(2) When I said that the existence of elections in Iraq is a neutral event, I did not mean, and did not imply, that the elections would have happened in the absence of our occupation. They clearly would not have. What I said was that they are neutral from the perspective of U.S. interests. Elections by themselves do not advance U.S. interests. Whether U.S. interests are advanced depends on who gains power by virtue of the elections. I have yet to hear anyone explain how U.S. interests will be advanced by these elections if they end up installing in power a Shiite theocracy loyal to Iranian mullahs or worse. Does anyone have an explanation as to how that can be?

And this I disagree with, first on the basic premise and secondly on the likelihood of a Shiite theocracy coming to power. First of all free and fair elections are in U.S. Interests no matter where they are held. As a liberal I hold this as a core belief. I believe in the nature of free people to make wise decisions in the long run (yes I know our own elections sometimes call that into question) but somehow in the end everything seems to turn out ok.

I am sure you know Iraq is one of if not the most secular country in the Middle East. This alone greatly diminishes the likelihood of a theocracy emerging. In fact the early returns from these historic elections seem to show secularists getting a significant percentage of votes. Why don’t we wait until we hear the final results, and see what coalition government is formed before taking firm positions on this one?

(3) If democracy is intrinsically helpful to U.S. security, do you actually favor taking steps to rid countries like Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Saudi Arabia of their unquestionably dictatorial but intensely pro-U.S governments and replace them with a democratically elected government which is almost sure to be anti-American if not outright sympathetic to, and cooperative with, Muslim extremists?

Yes I do. I do not believe in real politic I think it was one of the most shameful policies of our history.

This is not the cliched argument that is often advanced to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration’s pro-democracy rhetoric. It is a genuine question about whether we really are willing to commit ourselves to democracy in this region even if it means – as it almost certainly will – that U.S. interests will be harmed in the process.

Again I disagree with your basic premise and hope you can now admit you are not a classic liberal. Maybe we should start calling folks who argue as you have neo-liberals. You are all for democracy in the world as long as it is good for us. Let me turn your question around and ask you do you believe the United States should support dictators if it is in our national interest?

Please do not mistake me for some naive idealist. I do understand we can not fight every evil everywhere in the world simultaneously. However I strongly believe we are obligated as a nation to do what we can when we can.

The 20th Century is full of examples of governments which were initially elected democratically but then become despotic. Adolph Hitler is but one of many such examples. And there are plenty of democratically elected leaders who are anti-American today, with Hugo Chavez being the most prominent, but not only, example around today. The mere existence of a democratically elected government does not even remotely assure us that the government will be pro-U.S., and in the case of Shiite religious dominated Iraq, there is every reason to believe that it will not be.

Now again I have to question your knowledge of history or your intentions. Either you know this is untrue or you are willingly spreading propaganda in an attempt to advance your argument. Hitler did not rise to power Democratically.

Neither did Hugo Chavez. Now if you wish to be stubborn and insist they did, you have to at least admit they did not retain power Democratically.

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