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View Diary: The Iraq War and the birth of the Netroots (20 comments)

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  •  I was active in antiwar work prior to... (10+ / 0-)

    ...arriving at Daily Kos, and it was the Iraq war that drew me to site. But my foreign policy activism long predated the war, as in, for decades. During the '60s, many of us in the antiwar camp were arguing against liberal foreign policy because it was Cold War liberal. That little imbroglio in Southeast Asia—in which millions were killed, more bombs dropped than the Allies dropped in Europe and Japan during World War II, megatons of defoliation chemicals spread, the assassins of Operation Phoenix, the torture of captured Viet "Cong," ad nauseam—was a Cold War liberal invention. The conservatives wanted to drop nukes.

    George Kennan, the inventor of "containment" adopted by the Truman administration, was a sharp critic of much of the Cold War arms build-up against the Soviet Union, the Vietnam War, the Iraq war. He argued all along (to no avail) that containment did not require a militarized foreign policy. The Cold War liberals chose otherwise. While the old guard was, of course, mostly gone by 2001-2002, and the Soviet Union dead a decade, the Cold War liberal mindset was still quite prevalent in the Democratic Party then. This was reflected (even with all their hedging) by the Senate vote of prominent Democrats for the authorization to use military force in October 2002, a vote that Barack Obama once said he did not know whether he would have approved or not had he been in that body then.

    I'd personally be a lot happier with all the "apologies" we've been hearing from liberals lately about their support for the Iraq war if fewer of these weren't just watered-down apologias. If, however, it means they'll not rush in if and when the argument for war with Iran starts being laid out, I guess it's a good thing.

    Beinart, for instance, make the case for Chuck Hagel at Defense by citing Iran as a good example for why Hagel would be a good choice since he has expressed reservations in that regard. Here's Beinart in a recent CNN interview:

    I think so far, the debate about military action in Iran has been conducted by and large in Washington, as if Iraq and Afghanistan didn't happen.

    As if we haven't learned anything from the disaster (of) these two wars over the last 10 years. I think the real struggle between Hagel and his foes is he wants to bring some of the lessons in to the Iran debate that we learned about (Iraq) and Afghanistan.

    He talks very compellingly about the fact wars once launched can't be fully controlled. He is very cognizant of the enormous financial cost that these wars have imposed on the United States, and I think the heart of the hostility is the fear that his recognition about what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq will make taking us to war in Iran harder.

    CNN: You suggest there are no consequences for the Iraq War in terms of those who supported or imposed it.

    Beinart: What I said if you listen to Republican foreign policy discourse, with the exception of a few people like Chuck Hagel, you would think the Iraq War had been a great success.
    Because all of the same people who said it was a great success are defining in large measure the debate over war on Iran, pushing the United States closer, and I think Hagel is a (messenger for) ... the president to say, "Hold on a second here.

    "I am going to set the bar for war higher than George W. Bush, and I don't think this is a simple and easy thing."

    Hold-on-a-second here would certainly have been a good thing to have heard from Peter Beinart in 2002-2003 when he was, instead, banging the drum for going after Saddam. Are there no consequences for "liberal" public intellectuals like their support for that war? A mea culpa without penance does not, as every good Catholic knows, even us lapsed ones, bring absolution. The Jewish precept is the same: forgiveness requires a vow to do better in the future. As part of that penance or vow, could be have a heartfelt apology for the thrashing Beinart gave those of us who weren't wrong? And a vow not to call us idiots and pacifists and accuse us of incoherence when we oppose the next unjustifiable war?

    Beinart has, of course, long since repented some his specific errors regarding Iraq—about WMDs, trusting Bush as competent, etc.—and he's gone on to get himself chewed on for critiquing Israel. But even though he has been spurred to approach with more caution any urgings of actual invasions and willing to admit he was wrong, he is only willing to do so as long as those who were wrong remain in control of the party.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 07:48:08 PM PDT

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