Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Liberals’ Creed

Robert Alt is catching his breath and is, rightly, a little miffed. From the sands of Iraq here is what he thinks is the Liberals’ Creed.

Discussions - 14 Comments

That is absolutely a classic. I have rarely read anything that so powerfully captures the disconnect between reality and the liberal viewpoint.

I say again - a classic.

The Liberals’ Creed was just wonderful!
A classic indeed.

As an unrepentant liberal, I find Alt’s reductive list of a liberal’s ideas to be largely inaccurate,on the whole. This is the kind of sceed that plays into the worst impulses of the right, and of the left, over-simplifying the opposite side’s position, and further dividing our country. The liberal position is far more interesting and nuanced, (and varied) than Mr. Alt portrays it, as would be the conservative position, certainly, if it were subjected to such reductive, nonsensical categories.

These are complicated, difficult times, and they call for considered dialogue on all sides. I recognize that Mr. Alt may be known for his ranting, but I would ask him to consider how helpful this inciteful kind of ranting actually is. It is uselessly divisive in an already divided nation.

I won’t address every point, but I don’t, personally, for example believe that the UN inspections worked. What I believe is that there was a rush to war based on faulty intel...which has proven to be true. With more time, the UN and all our allies could have been persuaded to go after Sadaam. I do not say, as one liberal, that it was a ’unilateral’ action because we were able to enlist so many other lapdog nations, but because we did not respect the UN as a world governing body, and then used our superior might to force our will, when the UN didn’t agree with us. That is different to Mr Alt’s point.

I hope I haven’t lost your readers at this point, because I’d also like to say that I, for one, don’t believe that we are responsible for bringing terror on ourselves. I do think that the questions and answers of why and how 9/11 happened are complicated, and that questions of our continuing national security are affected by our foreign policy and how we present ourselves to the world.

I don’t know where Mr. Alt lives, but I live very close to ’Ground Zero’ in NYC, and I defy him to denigrate my notions about how & why my skyline is forever changed, and why so many of my friends and neighbors are dead. We live in constant ’Orange Alert’ here, and we know that when it happens again, it will happen here.

I beg of Mr. Alt, and his ilk, so much more subtlety and dialogue. We are, as a nation, in a complicated, difficult moment in our history, and we must band together, for all our differences. Let us have useful dialogue, not dirisive diatribe.

Thank you, if you bothered to read all the way to the bottom of this.

I did read to the bottom and I’m glad you posted here. The intelligence you’ve expressed in your post is like a breath of fresh air. I hope you drop in here more often!

Thank you for your graciousness, Frank. I may well drop in again. Here’s to civilized dialogue!

Susan, you show your true colors with the phrase "Lapdog nations". That’s very condescending, to put it mildly. I guess a country is only free (not a "lapdog") when it agrees with you.

"Progressives" believe in tolerance: they only tolerate those who agree with them.

Dear SVTony,

I think I expressed my true colors in my opening sentence. But you are right to point out that I used the rather insulting phrase ’lapdogs’, which I did pointedly, but without explanation. It was a short-hand to my belief that all of those countries had agendas for currying favor with the US by joining the coalition, and did not do so out of an ideological commitment that we were pursuing the right agenda. I frankly admired Aznar in Spain for using the opportunity to push his country into a greater position of importance and favor with the US, even though the vast majority of his people were against the war. Similar situation with Berlusconi and Italy. And Britain knows that its power lies in its particularly favorable relationship with us. (I am not ignoring all the other countries in the coalition, but I think you can interpolate their dependence on the US.) The fact that we couldn’t get (or didn’t wait long enough for) support from countries like Russia, Germany and France, who have large, independent economies, (and yes, I won’t deny that some have otherwise interests in Iraq,) is still about arrogance in diplomacy. It still comes down to a false rush to war. If we had taken the time to work others over to our side, we would have more economic and military support worldwide, but more importantly, the diplomatic victory of having shepherded the toppling of Saddam through international channels. I DO think that we were right to force a showdown on an issue that the UN had allowed the issue to dangle, weakly. I’m NOT sorry that Saddam is out. I only regret that we bungled the diplomacy at the beginning, that we allowed bad intelligence to force our hand, when we could have worked a bit more on the UN and our allies, and have better prepared an end-strategy by taking just a bit more time. I hope that makes it clearer for you, as to my position.

Nothing against the Azeris, Kazakhs, Estonians, and Hondurans, but how much, precisely, have they provided in terms of military aid in Iraq?

It’s hardly even worth trying to engage Alt’s implication here, that because Hungary sent a bunch of aging trucks and a bunch of countries gave us rights to fly over their air space, the mission should be multilateral enough to silence Bush’s critics. As if the point of being "multilateral" were to be able to compile a simple list of countries participating in the common effort.

As for the rest of Alt’s piece. . .well. . .one should probably respond in kind, with a "right wing creed" filled with all of the phantasms that exist in the imagination of angrier folks on the left.

Quoth SusanNYC:

Responding to the substance of your post, I would suggest that comments regarding "divisivness" and "nuance" are typical of those on the intellectual left - quixotic, feckless and bordering on the naive. It fascinates me that liberals prefer self-doubt to decisiveness, reflection to action, and repudiating objective reality that does not live up to the liberal ideal.

Regarding your comments about a "rush to war", it is hard to imagine given the violations of UN resolutions by Iraq over the previous 11 years prior to the war that liberals can make this claim with a straight face. I guess it must be the "nuance" rearing its ugly head again.

And don’t you think this whole "lapdog nation" thing is just a wee bit condescending? I mean, where is that vaunted liberal respect for diplomacy and reasoned discourse in that remark?

While I respect your acknowledgment that we didn’t make our own bed and deserve 9/11, as a person living close to Ground Zero I would expect you to be a little more concerned that an indecisive foreign policy might lead to another disaster; that "band[ing] together for all our differences" does not just mean the right coming closer to your positions; that complicated questions don’t always require complicated answers.

Since you liberals are so big on self-examination and questioning the motives of the administration, why don’t you use those strengths to ask yourself this question: "How much safer would I be with Saddam Hussein still in power and, having rejected compliance with all UN resolutions, demanding that they be lifted?"

The "nuanced" French were and still would be lobbying for lifting the sanctions, as they were just before the war. Does it make sense to assume that Al-Qaeda would be supporting Saddam’s position, or that of the United States. Do you think it at all likely that, assuming it didn’t happen before, the two would have gotten together and said "Let us make common cause together"?

Probably not. After all, that isn’t "nuanced" enough.

Please ignore the "Quoth" in previous.

.....but because we did not respect the UN as a world governing body, and then used our superior might to force our will, when the UN didn’t agree with us.

Exactly how should one respect an organisation composed of two-thirds totalitarian and despotic regimes, where Syria sits on the Security Council and Libya chairs the Human Rights Committee? Or is it just that the name ’United Nations’ sounds good so it must be good.

Regarding UN inspections, it was Hans Blix that headed the UN Atomic Commission and declared that he could not find any evidence of any Nuclear sites in Iraq - until Israel destroyed them. Little wonder he was chosen to head the WMD inspection team this time. It was highly unprofitable for Germany and France that the US went to war, not to mention that fact that many despots around the world are now very uncomfortable as a result. Really Mr. Bush is no respecter of their rights.

As for the implication that Britain joined the US to keep in favour with the US; In fact most of the media in the UK, including the BBC were against Britain allying the US, and succeeded in creating many wooly brained liberals to jump on the anti-war band wagon. Blair did so at a great personal gamble, possibly because he did research the facts beyond that which is reported by the tabloid press, and those media with particular interest in selling out our society for profit.

Question: How is it that the BBC, which is supported by compulsory taxes levied on UK citizens, has TV and RAdio rights in many regimes around the world that hate what our society stands for? DUH

I’m not surprised that Robert Alt’s brilliant piece made you uncomfortable. That’s what it was supposed to highlight about the present day ’liberal’ way of thinking.

Whew! I have a lot to answer for here. I didn’t want you all to think I’d wimped out, so I’m back to face the music. I appreciate that your responses have been substantive and (mostly) free of sarcasm and cheap shots.

Glenn Logan: I do object to the adjectives ’quixotic’ and ’feckless’, if you are referring to me specifically. I think I made my own case consistently and responsably, even if you don’t agree with me. I will accept (with reservations) ’bordering on the naive’, as a stand-in for idealistic and hopeful. I think that is the basic difference between liberals and conservatives. And I don’t mean that by way of denigrating conservatives. I do think that the conservative point of view tends to come from more of a "this is what’s in front of us, let’s deal with it," worldview, whereas liberals tend more towards a "let’s strive for this higher-minded goal even if we are occasionally tilting at windmills." (OK, ’quixotic’.) This, to me, is the basic source of mutual disdain between liberals and conservatives. I would concede value in the conservative pragmatism, when it is applied judiciously and backed-up with reasonably realiable intelligence and public consensus. I would hope that you would likewise be willing to understand that the liberal position, as I see it, strives for solutions that unite us with the rest of the world, allowing us to be magnimous in our might, rather than behaving as bullies, which I believe undercuts our credibility as the great example of democracy on the planet. I DO think that how we come of to the rest of the world is critical to our national security. I DON’T think I’m safer her in NYC because my government has toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, stirring up a hornet’s nest of hatred against the US in the fundamentalist Muslim world. By not making the Iraq war an action sanctioned by the UN, we have made it very ’us against them’. It is widely accepted now that by going into Iraq believing it would be over quickly, we have opened a vacuum that terrorist groups from the region have swept into. You ask me if Al Qaeda & Saddam would have made commom-cause, but you forget that Saddam’s regime, however repressive and repugnant, was secular, and not a likely breeding ground for muslim fundamentalist terrorist groups. His totalitarian regrime and its horrors were a separate issue to the war on Terrorism. Thanks to our ’rush to war’ (and, yes, Teddy Bear, I will still call it that, because we went in ’naively’ thinking that we needed no end-game,) we have let terrorist groups from across the region into Iraq, and given them that much more reason to hate us.

With regard to your comment about 9/11 and terrorism, that "complicated questions don’t always require complicated solutions,’ I still disagree. I think I’ve addressed it above, with notions about world opinion, and the way we treat the Arab world, and in this case I would use your own adjective against you. It is ’feckless’ and you don’t substantiate it at all. (You will say that terrorist action against us required response, but I will ask you how does that involve Iraq? What about Saudi Arabia, where the terrorists on the planes on 9/11 actually came from?)

Teddy Bear: The question of the UK is very complex. In many ways, I think Tony Blair believed that he was staking his career based on an absolute certainty on his part. But when you claim that the media there "succeeded in creating many wooly-brained liberals to jump on the anti-war bandwagon" wasn’t just a few liberals influenced by the media. There was a huge public outcry against going to war there. A million people marched in London. Don’t be fuzzy about your facts, it weakens your position.

I don’t actually understand your question re: the BBC.

But I will say, Robert Alt’s piece did not make me ’uncomfortable’, as you said. ’Uncomfortable’ implies that I recognized myself, which I do almost not at all in his piece. ("Almost" is intentional, so that you know I can laugh about myself, but there’s almost nothing, really.) What I was was incensed, (as may be obvious by my appearance on this chat site,) by how little he actually reflected my ideas. I wanted to come here and say that for myself. Thank you for being a generous forum to open discussion.

Susan, I can understand that it is more desirable to believe that WE are the bad guys, and that if WE change something about ourselves the problems that face us in the world will melt away. Because the real enemy is very powerful, and unlike any faced in conventional warfare before, the outcome is uncertain, and this breeds insecurity. It would really be lovely to wake up in the morning and find the world back where it was pre-9/11, and the only problems we faced were mostly those of our own social or anti-social behaviour. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen.

For sure our society has many imperfections, but we love all the positive benefits it provides, as well as the creative heights it allows us to explore. However, there are other societies that are blinded to these benefits and heights, and seek only to overthrow and supplant ours with theirs. The main weapons of the enemy within our own democratic society are demographics, terror, and a complete deviousness. They use all of the corrupt forces already present within our own society who are willing to sacrifice our deepest values for a quick buck or a vote.

The concept of the UN was a great ideal, however, the reality has become something else. If you are unwilling to face this reality then no ammount of words will convince you otherwise. If you can begin even to accept the possibility that this is true, then EVERYTHING will fall into place, and you will understand how you have been used by the enemy -THIS IS HOW THEY WORK.

Take your time to understand my comment about the BBC, it should begin your process and lift the lids from your eyes. Then you will be able to see deeper, research more thoroughly, and retort your own present assertions, as well as those of others sucked in by the same dynamics.

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