Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Iraq and American Culture

It's almost a sure bet that Muntadar al-Zaidi had no anticipation of how successful his shoe attack on President Bush would be in mobilizing all sides of the partisan divide over Iraq, both at home and abroad.

On the other hand, it's worth noting, that as an Iraqi journalist, Muntadar must have surely known that his actions would be met with a swift response by U.S. and Iraqi authorities. There are conflicting reports, but
Muntadar is said to have been roughed up. Some are even alleging that he's been tortured (which is completely unconfirmed at this point). He may face prosecution under Iraqi law for assaulting a foreign dignitary, and perhaps, as many are suggesting, President Bush might use his good offices and win mercy for the shoe-attacker. As it is, no doubt many Americans are thinking, hey, if only I could get my hands on him.

But the deeper issue here is how the shoe attack is serving as an antiwar coda on U.S. policy in Iraq - and not the Bush administration's policy mind you, but America's. The U.S. went into Iraq with the full support of Congress and the American people. The policy of regime change preceded the Bush administration (recall the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998). On the eve of war in 2003, Saddam Hussein was in non-compliance with 16 armistice resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council following the Gulf War of 1991, and Resolution 1441 of 2002 was a war ultimatum that Iraq failed to meet, finally triggering the response of the U.S. and its allies to carry out the will of the world community under international law.

Within a few short months of the war top Democrats defected from the domestic political coalition supporting the U.S. deployment and American troops in harm's way. For the past five years we've seen an unprecedented stab-in-the-back not only by top congressional Democrats but also by the morally-bankrupt antiwar activists on the streets. Online, we have groups like MoveOn.org calling military American commanders "traitors" and
nihilist bloggers have called for President Bush's execution at the Hague.

The election of Barack Obama in November may have even given a new push to the left's antiwar derangement. Triumph at the polls has fostered something of a vindicationist mindset, and should Obama veer from the antiwar line, he may well face the unholy wrath of these same leftist hordes. We saw calls earlier, for example, for President Bush to resign ahead of time, to allow Barack Obama's transition team to govern by congressional proxy. The uproar over the Iraqi shoe attack is the next level of Bush condemnation. Antiwar Americans can say, "Look, the Iraqi street is with us on this ... hey ho, the occupation's got to go!"

Nothing captures this ideology better than
today's post by Matthew Yglesias. He's attacking Dave Dilegge at Small Wars Journal, who was insulted by the applause the attack on President Bush received. Yyglesias argues that Dilegge's response "reflects some dangerous trends in American culture":
Americans love and respect the men and women who volunteer for military service under our flag. And those of us who’ve had friends serve in Iraq, and especially those who’ve personally served in Iraq and watched friends be killed or maimed, think only the best of the people who’ve been doing dangerous jobs in difficult circumstances. But I think it’s crucially important not to allow these positive sentiments about soldiers and marines to deteriorate into sentimentality about the mission they were undertaking in Iraq. The Iraqi people didn’t ask to be liberarted conquered and occupied by a foreign power that destroyed their country and then immediately set about meddling in Iraqi politics and until just a month or so ago was struggling mightily for the right to permanently station military forces on Iraqi soil contrary to the will of the Iraqi public. Not only did Iraqis not ask for such services, but nobody anywhere has ever asked for them.

The harsh reality is that this was not a noble undertaking done for good reasons. It was a criminal enterprise launched by madmen cheered on by a chorus of fools and cowards. And it’s seen as such by virtually everyone all around the world — including but by no means limited to the Arab world. But it’s impolitic to point this out in the United States, and it’s clear that even a president-elect who had the wisdom not to be suckered in by the War Fever of 2002 has no intention of really acting to marginalize the bad actors. Which, I think, makes sense for his political objectives. But if Americans want to play a constructive role in world affairs, it’s vitally important for us to get in touch with the reality of what the past eight years of US foreign policy have been and how they’re seen and understood by people who aren’t stirred by the shibboleths of American patriotism.

This is something I have written about many times. There's a change in American culture alright, but not in the sense Yglesias implies.

First, it's a lie that people like Yglesias "love and respect" America's fighting men and women. By attacking their mission from the get go, and by applauding any and all displays of disrespect at their commander-in-chief, the American left does a grave disservice to the country. Indeed, folks like this, at antiwar marches and protests, routinely wear paraphernalia exhorting war opponents to "SUPPORT THE IRAQI RESISTANCE!" Yglesias himself has written an entire book attacking the deployment, the administration, and the Democrats who "enabled" the mission in the first place. These people embrace anti-Americanism as a badge of honor, and they denounce love of country as some radiactive "shibboleth," and in so doing, they work to destroy the institutions and values to which patriotism directs its loyalty.

This is the culture that we live in today, a culture that glorifies a demented Iraqi journalist with ties to the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. It is a culture that privileges international solidarity over American power and legitimacy. It's not just at the fringe of the left's blogging fever swamps. We see as well that Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman's endorsed Yglesias' BDS with
a post of his own, snarling:

The fact is that an American president deliberately misled the nation into war, probably for political gain — and most of the country’s elite went cheerfully along with the scam.
Well, no, that's not "the fact."

Indeed, the Yglesias/Krugman line is as far from the facts as one can get. These people are motivated by a theology of anti-Bush hatred. It's a blind faith that's devoid of honor, principle, integrity, or reason. The antiwar theology is so unthinkingly pervasive, it's almost an embarrassment to call these people my countrymen.

A month or so back the publicist for Arthur Borden sent me a copy of Borden's book, A Better Country: Why America Was Right To Confront Iraq. I was asked to write a book review here at the bog, and I still may do so. But upon first being contacted I questioned the utility of a book like this. Sure, it's a short, concise book, and rigorously argued, but I still wondered who would actually be persuaded by it. The left's twin-mantra of "Bush lied, people died," and "No WMD" has become so ingrained in the popular Democratic demonology that frankly only die-hard GOP stalwarts or pro-victory military families would even care to skim the first few pages of the book.

We have come to a point in American culture that image is everything. A shoe thrown at a president is immediately representative of world antiwar public opinion. The absence of weapons of mass destruction is seen as confirming a perceived campaign of deceit and intimidation, rather than in fact verifying Iraqi disarmament and the actual elimination of the Iraqi nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons threat (which would not have been possible absent intervention). A war to preserve the integrity of the international system from the revisionism and evasion of one of the most brutal tyrants in modern history, is demonized as an American project toward neo-fascist empire.

People should take a good look around them. Today' veterans are no longer heroes to the bulk of Democratic-leftists who have elevated the likes of Barack Obama as the font and protector of a new millennial order of universal "rights" and global governance. The President-Elect may still disappoint those who hail him as the today's "Lightworker." But the fact is that this man - who prior to this year attacked the war in Iraq more vociferously than any other member of the Senate - serves as the validation of all that the antiwar left hates about this country. The coming administration signifies that America's ethos of honoring the "greatest generations," those who have fougth for goodness and justice in the world, is an artifact of a previous time, of long ago, unlikely to return.


Norm said...

If Saddam Hussein was still in power today these same leftists would be
demonizing President Bush as the greatest wimp in American history.

It makes no difference whether they attack Bush from the left or the right. They just want to obtain power and tear down what is left of whatever is left of our capitalist system.

These politicians who approved the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, then approved the invasion in 2003 and then flipped have done more to hurt American credibility around the world than President Bush could ever do. What country would believe in America as an ally if when the first bullet goes overhead, or the first battle goes awry, then quits and runs. Thank goodness for President Bush who has the fortitude to stay on the straight and narrow. I trust the Iraqi people will make President Bush into a hero before America does.

cracker said...

Nice try....but you blow it at the 3rd paragraph
"The U.S. went into Iraq with the full support of Congress and the American people."

This is true....until the American People discover that we were flatout LIED to....at the State of the Union, By George W Bush.....since then there have been over 900 documented lies presented to the American People by Bush, Cheney Rumsfeld and others

The "stab-in the back" came from the Oval Office .....and the American People dont like leaders who lie.....for any reason.

There is but one question left, actually two,....will Obama and his admin encourage a pursuit of justice with a real investigation of these questions of High Crimes ....and/or is the Justice dept. beyond repair with party politicians, corruption and paper shredders?

The picture here is bigger than the war....its about accountability....whether or not it exists in the United States anymore.

Cassandra said...

"Over 900 documented lies?"

Get a grip. That particular canard has been debunked so many times it's not even funny.

It's a sad day when all you have to prop up your partisan mouth frothing is silly nonsense like attributing admittedly uncertain intelligence as "lies". By that standard, every single government since the dawn of time (including every Democrat in America) has been an unrepentant "liar".

Grow up.

Rich Casebolt said...

cracker, yes, let's talk about accountability ...

... for the death, misery, and oppression that was allowed to stand for decades, because people like you said that "it's none of our business" ... when in fact, the world has become so tightly interconnected that it IS our business, right along with the business of all who value life and liberty.

You ignore the demonstrated brutality, the desire to expand it, and the willingness to support terrorist surrogates that was embodied in the vermin known as Saddam & Sons, who were leading Iraq to becoming the high-tech, cash-flush, terrorist-connected Afghanistan 2.0.

You strain at gnats of WMD stockpiles (BTW, did you know he was ready to reconstitute those capabilities once sanctions were lifted ... if not, you are as much a "liar" as Mr. Bush; if so, when were you going to warn us, much less do something about it?) ... while swallowing the camels of death and destruction whole.

Your 20th-century thinking was obsolete well before the end of that century ... and it led right to the events of 11 Sept 2001.

You are more concerned about the possibility of someone shredding paper, than you are about thugs shredding people ... and how history shows us that said thugs, if left alone, nearly always seek to expand their scope of control, even if it means wreaking havoc upon civilization.

And leaving them alone ... when it is evident by their lack of rights-respecting governance, juxtaposed with their demonstrated brutality, that they pose a threat to life and liberty of anyone who stands in their way ... is no longer prudent for rational people to countenance.

It is only prudent in those who are living in the last century ... and who lack confidence in the principles this nation, and other free nations, are built upon.

Tom the Redhunter said...

Sigh. Nutters Yglesias and "cracker" are at it again. If you want to argue that the intelligence was poorly analyzed, fine. But this "Bush lied!" is deranged.

Donald, you are right about the "unprecedented stab-in-the-back not only by top congressional Democrats but also by the morally-bankrupt antiwar activists on the streets."

They remind me of the "Copperheads" during the Civil War; northern Democrats who bailed on the war in 1864 and demanded an immediate peace with the Confederacy. They even put it in the 1864 Democrat Party Platform, and you can look it up if you don't believe me.

Tom the Redhunter said...

Not you Donald, I meant leftie trolls. I know you're familiar with it all.

Tapline said...

DD, Outstanding post. i just read another blog on the shoe throwing incident and had to leave because of the distortions. Sad, unfortunately, they have been so brainwashed it is a waste to try to change their minds....stay well..

JoeBama "Truth 101" Kelly said...

Bush and Co. have been exposed time and again for the liars they are. The right basically has no defense other than their tried and tested strategy of calling anyone that doesn't agree with their nonsense "America Haters." I give kudos to the Nutty Professor Douglas. In keeping with his academic persona, he took 16 paragraghs do do so.

And just to take from Norm. Open your eyes buddy. Bush claims Syrian and Iranians were helping insurgents kill Americans and Bush has done nothing. Bush never did what was necessary to achieve anything in Iraq but chaos. And there are as you read this hundreds of thousands of Iraqis praising the nut that threw the shoe at President Bush. Unless Iraqis really admire a guy because he ducks well, you're nuts to think that they will ever consider Bush a hero.

Anonymous said...

Rich, its funny how people like yourself have a laughably revisionist version of history that starts conveniently at the point of your choosing.

Remember this? Ole' Rummy?


Anonymous said...

I agree. Image isn't everything.

For instance, bipartisan congressional agreement on Iraq policy should never have been mistaken for "the full support of the American people."

JD said...

The bottom line is that Saddam and Iraq posed no threat to the US, and Bush and his minions misled US into an unnecessary invasion and occupation of Iraq.