I don’t want to turn this into a warblog, but I think that my fellow citizens on the left should read this interview with Paul Berman on Salon.com, in which he outlines his belief (and mine) that the left should be concerned about Islamism (Islamic totalitarianism), should be backing efforts to establish liberal democratic ideals in the Middle East, and should come to the realization that although Bush is an idiot, he’s right about Saddam. (It’s a subscriber-only piece, but if you’re not a subscriber, you can opt to view some ads and read the article anyway)
One of his most salient points is that what we’re doing in Iraq is literally in the best interests of most of the world, and the huge backlash against the US world-wide is almost entirely due to the staggering ineptness of Bush and his complete inability to communicate these interests effectively.
Personally, I think that what we’re looking at here, with the new American policy, is sort of a “democratic domino theory”. I think we looked at what the Soviets were doing to spread communism from the 50s through the 70s, and realized that they would’ve been even more successful if a) they had a stronger economy than they did (a fact which eventually destroyed the Soviets from within) and b) they didn’t have a rival power blocking them at every turn. Given the fact that we’ve got scads of money and are essentially the sole superpower, I think that somebody along the line realized that we might be able to actually pull it off.
I think that if we on the left put aside our hatred of the Bush junta (which we can deal with in 2004 by mobilizing liberal voters in vast numbers), we would be able to realize that the establishment of genuinely democratic governments (or at least more democratic than they are currently) and the taking down of totalitarian and fundamentalist regimes the world over is a goal that can help spread more liberal social ideals and values, leading to greater personal freedoms for more people. The only question is whether or not the left is going to make sure that they’re part of the equation, involved in the process, or if instead they’re going to spend their energies on complaint and protest and leave the establishment of these new societies to corporately-minded conservatives.
Something to think about.