One of the mixed blessings of getting an Internet connection at our place is getting a daily dose of Andrew Sullivan again.
If you're not reading his site, go have a look. He's in fine fettle these days, huffing and puffing about how only moderate Republicans can save the world, calling Bush all manner of amusing things he would never have allowed (e.g.) a damn liberal to say even a year ago, letting his Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses go black anytime John McCain comes near, the usual bullshit. As has been happening for the last few years, his concern with figuring out exactly what he believes is (I believe) only part of a preoccupation with what he is - which is why he carries on about the Holy Grail of Pure Principled Conservatism all the time, because it's an identity machine for him. He's late to the party so he acts out to grab everyone's attention. No matter. Here's today's stuff as an example:
As a supporter of the war in Iraq, it's clear that over three years later, it has spawned more terrorism, and is now causing more innocent deaths on a daily basis than Saddam's vile regime. Whether this was inevitable or a function of the way it was conducted will be debated for decades. But this much we know: it was conducted dreadfully anyway, on the cheap, and without even minimal strategic intelligence and care. At this point in time, there's no way to spin this except as a fiasco that has obviously made us less safe right now and in the immediate future. The only arguments the Bush administration has left is that in 2050, historians may regard it as a turning point, and that leaving now would be even worse. The first argument is pathetic; the second argument is true but only underscores their unforgivable recklessness.
For the first time in this administration, we need some accountability. Then we have a decision to make. Do we have the troops necessary to make this work? Or do we not? If we need a draft, do we have the guts to say so and debate it?
My own view is that we should either drastically up the ante in Iraq - by adding tens of thousands of new troops in a serious, concerted attempt to provide order for the first time; or we should withdraw. Anything in between continues the same worst-of-all-worlds nightmare.
[Sullivan makes in that first sentence a grammatical mistake that afflicts surprisingly many of his posts. It never fails to trip me up and irritate me. (He's surprisingly careless with his prose - I mean it's a blog, but for fuck's sake man you're a professional blogger, man. Bring the prose up to speed.)]
More importantly, Sullivan's making the same grotesque assumptions and buying into the same destructive talking points as usual, recycling the same rhetorical tropes and faux-logical dodges as usual. Quickly: where are the open questions about the rightness of invading Iraq, and the calls for accountability on that score? Where's the concern about the lies that made the invasion possible, and the complicity of pro-war cheerleaders in fomenting civil war in Iraq? Where are the questions about the morality of 'supporting the war' when the war is a fraudulent disaster? Where's the recognition that the 'In 2050 we'll look back and laugh' isn't an argument, it's the definition of irresponsibility?
And how in Christ's name does he think more troops are going to help?
I don't think Sullivan has an answer to that last question, because he doesn't have to. Because 'Fire Rumsfeld now' doesn't take guts to say in a country where Bush, Cheney, and their lunatic cronies are in charge. Sullivan gets to feel butch for wanting the Tough Thing, gesturing at the Tough Choices. And in 2008, God willing, we'll get the paradigm shift of...President McCain. As fantasies go it's not a terribly interesting one.
Andrew Sullivan wants Iraq to be a U.S.-controlled police state while it transforms (via the magic of Democracy!! Rah!) into a state free of (basically) the ugly influence of those Brown Bastards. That's what this is: he seems to think We The People can stamp out evil in all its forms - ewww, I got some Islam on my army boot! - so long as find a way to make Them more like Us. But it's not liberal democracy he wants. Not really. He wants war. He wants conquest, destruction, the righteous extermination of Enemies of the West. And he seems to believe liberal democracy will just flow naturally from such things.
The English are so charming, aren't they? So quaint.
'More troops! More troops!' doesn't quite rise to the level of policy prescription. It's a gesture of self-satisfaction, and when it comes to Iraq, the evidence of the last several years suggests that Sullivan's capable of little else. He's capable of things many of his peers in the pundit corps aren't, but that's like being the funniest liar on the block. i.e. Not a compliment. Sullivan wants credit for letting go of the delusion that BushCo. can salvage the Iraq War, for acknowledging obvious facts about Iraq and the villains and idiots running this country. But we would like to keep our standards a little higher than that, thanks a bunch.