The Triumph of Peter Beinart
Gatemouth (7/24/08): But “Aggressive Isolationism” and our involuntary quarantine by our former allies, was not always our destiny. To cop from the dust jacket of Beinart’s “The Good Fight: Why Liberals – and Only Liberals – Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again”, we once had leaders who believed that “America must lead the world by persuasion, not command”, George Bush believes the opposite, and American and the world are suffering as a result. Beinart posits an alternative “liberalism cannot merely define itself against the right, but must fervently oppose the totalitarianism that blighted Europe a half century ago, and which stalks the Islamic world today” and “an unyielding hostility to totalitarianism – and a recognition that defeating it requires bringing hope to the bleakest corners of the globe. And it means understanding that democracy begins at home, in a nation that does more than merely preach about justice, but become more just itself.”
….And clear as day, during the primaries, Obama made it known during nationally televised debates that he didn’t rule out military action in Pakistan or Iran. He also made clear that those things would not be his preference. By contrast, in Iran, the Republicans seem to be publicly salivating for war, although in McCain’s case, he may just be drooling involuntarily.
Bouldin (7/24/08): God-damned lefties, not interested in whatever misguided war the Peter Beinarts of the world…are drooling over, in an unsuccessful attempt to prove their own manhood to themselves.
Obama (1/20/09): As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
The passages in President Obama's inaugural address concerning war and peace are a strong and long overdue rebuke to the Republican policy of Aggressive Isolationism. And this had been duly noted by thoughtful observers, and others as well.
What has been less noted is the rebuke they represent to those who advocate pacifism, those who feel that any exercise of American strength is always inherently evil, and those, like MoveOn (which opposed the Afghan invasion), who profess to be neither, but who always oppose using American strength no matter what the provocation. These include Michael Moore, who lost more sleep over our successful efforts to end genocide in the Balkans than he did over the genocide itself.
I am thankful to those on the left, like Katrina vanden Heuvel, who supported Obama understanding that he differed with them on the use of residual forces in Iraq, the escalation of the US military presence in Afghanistan, and the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. I am also thankful to those on the left who supported Obama in part because they didn’t realize he held those positions, or believed Obama didn‘t really mean what he said and was really one of them. Clearly, in the crazed atmosphere of the Bush administration‘s unilateral imbecility, Obama was the right choice for such people, as well as for those holding views closer to my own.
But, those who expected a foreign policy team of “progressives” and instead had to settle for a team of rivals comprised of realists and liberal internationalists, should be thankful (as I am) that there are no neo-cons, and understand that they are on now on notice; when, at the beginning of our great nightmare in Iraq, Barack Obama told an antiwar rally. “I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances….After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this Administrations pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again,” he really meant it.
Perhaps the vanden Heuvals will explain to their less savvy allies that they are allowed to feel anger, but not betrayal.
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