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Lockstep on the Left By: David Harsanyi
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, August 23, 2002


Despite numerous illogical arguments regarding the invasion of Iraq, deceit remains the most reprehensible aspect of the Left's recent campaign against the war on terror. Because to leftists, it has never been about American lives, it has never been about American interests, it has never been about the "mass investment of money" or inflaming tensions in the Middle East — and it certainly hasn't been about American security. The past year has always been about one thing, and it has become the Left's raison d'être: undermining the Bush administration.

Patriotism has always been problematical for the Left. Nationalism is narrow-minded and exclusionary. Waving a flag is as uncomfortable and jingoist an experience as listening to country music with a bunch of NRA members. Just ask Katha Pollit, Richard Goldstein, Joe Conason, Susan Sontag or any of the countless, self-appointed intellectuals, professors, writers and editors that demarcate the Left's 'progressive' position.

In the past few weeks, the erudite leftist writers and editors of the New York Times have tried to enlighten the unsophisticated American public about the possible war against Iraq. They have taught us that Iraq wasn't a threat to World peace. We have learned that prominent Republicans were also opposed to action against Iraq; that the American economy would collapse if we invaded Iraq; that handpicked "experts" didn't believe we could accomplish our goals, and then an astonished public learned that they weren't in favor of any military action against Iraq after all.

This group of anti-war activists, headed by the Times executive editor, Howell Raines, are busy terrifying us with nightmarish, Vietnam-like predictions, and slanted features in hopes of deflating poll numbers that clearly illustrate Americans are in favor of military action against Iraq.

("Would you support military action against Iraq if you knew your son was going to be tortured and killed during the fighting?" will surely be the next innocuous question asked by a Times reporter.)

The Left expects us to be more distressed over the wounded feelings of a handful of European leaders than over the murder of almost 3000 Americans. As internationalists, these leftists can't stomach American unilateral action, whether it be against Iraq or Grenada, whether there was a direct link between Iraq and al Qaeda or no connection at all, whether Hussein had nuclear capabilities or he lived in the desert and threw rocks at passing Bedouins.

The "genuine debate" the Times and other anti-war advocates cry for is a hoax — genuine debate is a euphemism for infinite debate. Americans have had almost a year to comprehend the intricacies of these issues. Regardless of public opinion, anti-war activists expect the Bush administration to capitulate to undependable, disapproving allies, who had little problem exploiting U.S. prestige and economic might for 50 years, but infrequently validate their allegiance in our times of need. The same allies that required our support when bombing civilians in Serbia to facilitate European stability, systematically condemn the U.S.'s most dependable ally, Israel, and care nothing for stability in the Middle East as long as oil prices remain manageable.

A recent Times headline screamed "Top Republicans Break With Bush on Iraq Strategy." (The Times, it seems, is privy to Bush's strategy before the president himself.) From only the headline, the public could have reasonably anticipated Condi Rice's hostile resignation from the Bush administration, but instead, they were treated to a sampling of antediluvian, moderate Republicans chirping the same old song of restraint and imminent doom. Before last week, 90 percent of Americans had probably never heard of Brent Scowcroft, now he is virtually a household name, mentioned in every article and newscast regarding the Iraqi debate.

You know they're employing a full-court press, when the world's foremost Middle East reporter, Tom Friedman, becomes preposterously simplistic, as he did in a recent column from New Delhi, attacking Bush, not for his policies, but for his wearing a golf shirt on CNN. Friedman claims Bush was showing "real contempt for the world, and a real lack of seriousness."

In the same column, Friedman goes on write that "when the Bush team insists that Saddam Hussein must be ousted to bring democracy to Iraq and the Arab world — but says nothing about democratizing Saudi Arabia or Egypt — people (in India) notice." Finally, Friedman is making sense. And this is precisely why a democratic Iraq is so important. It can be a model to the populations of other Arab nations, demonstrating that a democracy is a viable option in the Middle East.

But not everyone wants freedom for the Iraqi people. Scott Ritter, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, says that Iraq poses no realistic threat to the United States and a unilateral attack on it would alienate America's allies in the area — we assume he means Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Ritter raises the same objections: an Iraqi attack would inflame the Middle East and hurt the global fight against terrorism. If Iraq had been fundamentally disarmed after the Gulf War, if she wasn't producing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, why won't Hussein allow inspectors free reign?

That devoted anti-American, Eric Alterman, writes that "the Likud faction of the Republican Party would like a war without any bothersome discussion beforehand." But Alterman, like many extremists, is a fan of "discussions" only between like-minded comrades. Recently, in his customary spiteful style, the Nation pundit disparaged Atlantic Magazine editor Michael Kelly, author of a National Magazine award-winning book on the Gulf War, as unqualified to discuss the Middle East. Using that as a measuring stick, we can assume Alterman couldn't care less what the vast majority of Americans have to add to the 'discussion.' But none of this should sound surprising. Alterman, with his basketful of degrees and immeasurable intellectual prowess, believes that terrorists who exclusively murder civilians are "freedom fighters."

Joshua Micah Marshall, a tepid left-wing advocate of a regime change in Iraq, believes that running articles that point out the downside of an invasion are "appropriate because this is a mass investment of money and lives on the country's part. They're pretty much doing what a newspaper should be doing." He makes an excellent point. But on the flip side, isn't it also appropriate for the Times to print, at the very least, the occasional article describing the benefits of military action against Saddam? Surely Howell Raines could afford to loosen the leash just a little.


David Harsanyi is an NYC-based writer. Visit his website (http://dharsanyi.blogspot.com/) or email him at david_harsanyi@yahoo.com.


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