Thursday, March 17, 2005
The conventional wisdom on the anti-war left and the paleo-conservative right hewed a little too closely to the Arab nationalist party lines in Damascus and Cairo. The Middle East, they said, is a hornet's nest that we best not rile up.
Although Josh Marshall is a liberal who has been critical of US military action in Iraq, I wouldn't classify him as part of the anti-war left. And I'm familiar with the cited article about the neoconservatives' mission to transform the Middle East--an area that needed transforming bigtime--because when I first read it two years ago, I printed it out and read it several times and e-mailed it to everyone I knew, both those for and those against. I wanted everyone to read it because it expressed pretty much the way I felt:
The audacious nature of the neocons' plan makes it easy to criticize but strangely difficult to dismiss outright. Like a character in a bad made-for-TV thriller from the 1970s, you can hear yourself saying, "That plan's just crazy enough to work."
But like a TV plot, the hawks' vision rests on a willing suspension of disbelief, in particular, on the premise that every close call will break in our favor
Also, I didn't perceive Marshall as saying we should leave well enough alone. In the "hornets' nest" analogy, he's actually encouraging the idea of debate, just expressing that once we start the action, there will be no going back:
I've been enjoying Michael Totten's blog for the past two years and even when I don't agree with him, I always find him intelligent, articulate and able to see a broad spectrum of gray in a very black and white polarized time. However, I don't post there because with some of his regular commenters, if you're critical or doubtful in any way about the foreign policies of the Bush Administration, you might as well be marching under a sign that says "Bush=Hitler" on the way to pick out party favors for your lesbian wedding.
But doing it as the Bush administration now intends is something like going outside and giving a few good whacks to a hornets' nest because you want to get them out in the open and have it out with them once and for all. Ridding the world of Islamic terrorism by rooting out its ultimate sources--Muslim fundamentalism and the Arab world's endemic despotism, corruption, and poverty--might work. But the costs will be immense. Whether the danger is sufficient and the costs worth incurring would make for an interesting public debate. The problem is that once it's just us and the hornets, we really won't have any choice.
It was one of the reasons I got my own blog. I didn't want to get shouted down in a crowd. So now I'm part of a crowd of kabillions of people who have a blog.