Monday, June 12, 2006

"Lazy-Minded Evangelical Romanticism"

I join the order of the shrill in welcoming John Derbyshire, who uses his position at the National Review to complain that:
The lazy-minded evangelico-romanticism of George W. Bush, the bureaucratic will to power of Donald Rumsfeld, the avuncular condescension of Dick Cheney, and the reflexive military deference of Colin Powell combined to get us into a situation we never wanted to be in, a situation no self-respecting nation ought to be in.
Unfortunately, he seems to offer some odd excuses for the situation we find ourselves in today. First, he waffles about what exactly he supported:
Did I support the 2003 invasion of Iraq? Yes I did. Do I support the continuing effort to get civil society going in Iraq? No I don’t, and haven’t for over two years.
I think a large chunk of the anti-war movement would have been prepared to go along with our Iraqi adventure of the plan for getting a civil society up and running looked at all coherent beforehand. Since it seemed to amount to "let Chalabi restart the oil fields" a lot of people were concerned. Not that we couldn't kick some ass in the invasion phase – no one doubted that – but in the occupation. To decouple the two before the war was foolish, to attempt to do so now is no better. And Derbyshire is not entirely unwilling to acknowledge that.

But what Derbyshire seems to take away from this is that we have tried too hard to fix what we broke:
One reason I supported the initial attack, and the destruction of the Saddam regime, was that I hoped it would serve as an example, deliver a psychic shock to the whole region. It would have done, if we’d just rubbled the place then left.
The Derb does answer a question I always had. President Bush invested a lot of rhetorical energy insisting that Arabs were really capable of democracy, and un-named parties should stop acting as if brown-skinned people couldn't handle democracy. Like most people, I figured that was directed at the coalition of centrists and leftists who opposed an ill-considered invasion based on lies. In short, I thought he was trying to impugn the motives of people who disagreed with him on and entirely different basis.

It turns out, he was trying to convince John Derbyshire, who concludes his essay by writing:

When the Founders of our nation said “all men” they had in mind Christian Anglo-Saxon men. Our leaders, though, want to bring the whole world under the scope of those grand Lockeian principles. … My fault was in not grasping the scale of the administration’s multiculturalist ambitions.
So Jews, women, blacks, and especially Arabs have no hope of democracy, and it's foolishness to try to replace Iraq's government with anything but the dictatorship that already existed.

In short, the problem with invading Iraq was not that it was a hare-brained neo-conservative fantasy, but that it was too liberal. Had Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney been given a freer hand, perhaps all would be well. Perhaps if we left Iraq in chaos, our purely punitive actions would produce stability with no need for future punitive acts.

What exactly we were supposed to be punishing remains unclear. Being a bad guy, I suppose.

While I welcome all new comers to the land of the shrill, I fear that the wrong lesson has been learned.