"good war" + "bad case" still = "good war deserving support" (was Re: "[Bush's] inarticulateness has become .. a national security threat for the US"

Jeff Bone jbone@deepfile.com
Sat, 22 Mar 2003 19:12:59 -0600

Disagree.  Good war + bad case still = bad war.


On Saturday, Mar 22, 2003, at 15:06 US/Central, Gordon Mohr wrote:

> Russell Turpin forwards a quote from Paul Berman in Salon:
>> "In my interpretation, the basic thing that the
>> United States wants to do -- overthrow Saddam
>> and get rid of his weapons -- is sharply in the
>> interest of almost everybody all over the world.
>> And although the U.S. is proposing to act in the
>> interest of the world, Bush has managed to
>> terrify the entire world and to turn the world
>> against him and us and to make our situation
>> infinitely more dangerous than it otherwise
>> would have been. It's a display of diplomatic
>> and political incompetence on a colossal scale.
>> We're going to pay for this."
>> The full interview is in Salon. I thought it
>> relevant to the current debate between Hall
>> and Bone. You'll have to click through an ad,
>> but they've made it pretty easy:
>> http://www.salon.com/books/int/2003/03/22/berman/
> An excellent article, clear-eyed about the threats of radical
> Islamism and Baathism.
> But let's just focus for a moment on the key sentiment
> captured in the above passage:
>   "The war is a good idea, but Bush hasn't made
>    the best possible case."
> If you believe this, it's awfully pissy to just keep
> piling on Bush. For whatever reason -- his personal
> limitations, gaps in his team, or the world environment
> (more on this in a separate message) -- Bush hasn't and
> perhaps *cannot* make the best possible case for war.
> Even if you are disappointed, angry, or ashamed of Bush's
> rhetorical failures, if you believe the war is justified,
> the serious, sensible course of action is to *help make the
> right case for war*, and further now that the war has begun,
> *help the war effort in the right directions*.
> Sure, Salon plays up the complaints against Bush, to make
> this interview more interesting to Salon's reflexively
> anti-Bush readership. But Berman himself doesn't chiefly
> want to criticize Bush: he wants to implore liberals,
> including opponents of the war, to stop dwelling on the
> prewar rhetoric and get behind an effective war and postwar
> program. Berman says:
>    "So I wish Bush had gone about it differently. But now
>     that the thing is getting under way, I fervently hope
>     it goes well. And I think that the attitude of everyone
>     with the best of motives who have opposed the war,
>     should now shift dramatically. The people who have
>     demanded that Bush refrain from action should now
>     demand that the action be more thorough. The danger now
>     is that we will go in and go out too quickly and leave
>     the job half-done. The position of the antiwar movement
>     and of liberals should be that the United States fulfill
>     entirely its obligations to replace Saddam with a decent
>     or even admirable system. We've done this in Afghanistan
>     but only in most halfhearted way. We should now do more
>     in Afghanistan and do a lot in Iraq. The people who've
>     opposed the war should now demand that Bush do more."
> If even a small proportion of those in the antiwar movement
> embraced this Berman position, I'd find their overall
> philosophy a lot more respectable and coherent.
> As it is now, it seems like the only unifying principles of
> antiwar types are a hatred for Bush and an incredibly deep
> conservatism -- conservative in the sense of fearing all
> change unless success is certain and everyone in the world
> agrees (an impossible standard).
> - Gordon