Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Shelby Steele: Whining Liberals Lost Iraq

This op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal by Shelby Steele certainly illustrates the incoherence and desperation of what passes for philosophy among conservatives these days. As Digby, David Neiwert, and especially Glenn Greenwald have shown, Steele's message (which Greenwald aptly summarizes as "Time to stop feeling guilty and start really bombing") is vicious, self-contradictory, and dishonest.

Among the obvious questions that seem not to have occurred to Steele:

If, as Steele claims, we invaded Iraq not out of humanitarian concerns but "simply to defeat a dangerous enemy," why did we choose to invade a country that had not attacked us and showed no intention to do so?

Conversely, if we invaded Iraq out of concern for the well-being of the poor oppressed Iraqi people (as Bush and company continually claim), why would unleashing the full "ferocity" of our military on the same people be an effective solution to the ongoing insurgency?

If, as Steele states, the Bush administration has restrained itself from using necessary force in Iraq out of excessive sensitivity to international opinion and to avoid European "scorn," why did the same administration go out of its way to publicly ignore and mock "old Europe" during the run-up to war and in the heady early days of an apparently easy victory?

Finally, if the "white guilt" that holds us back from using our full military might in Iraq is so foolish and unwarranted (as Steele suggests), why are we supposed to preen ourselves on "the truly remarkable moral transformation" that it embodies--namely, the rejection of racism that all Americans supposedly now share?

Logically and intellectually, the Steele column is a mess. It's important only because it floats a new conservative meme about Iraq--that, just as in Vietnam, we lost the war because we didn't have the courage to ignore liberal whining and attack with all the brutal power of the American military machine.

Never mind the fact that it was Bush and Rumsfeld who insisted on attacking Iraq without an international coalition and with a force they'd been warned would be inadequate. Conservatives are already at work rewriting history to blame liberals and the French for the fact that we fought in Iraq with one hand tied behind our back.

A decade from now, millions of Americans will believe it.

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