Monday, March 14, 2011


Ross Douthat's latest column is being met with approval from the likes of Atrios and Mistermix. I'm surprised -- and pleased, I guess -- to see Douthat criticizing those who are trying to browbeat President Obama into a Libyan intervention, but I have a hard time getting past this part of Douthat's column:

The Iraq war became known as George W. Bush's war after Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction didn't turn up, because at that point no liberal wanted to take responsibility for the conflict. But the initial invasion was supported by Democrats as well as Republicans, liberal internationalists as well as neoconservatives -- Hillary Clinton as well as John McCain, The New Republic as well as The Weekly Standard.

Look, I don't care how reprehensible the behavior of the liberal interventionists was -- we have one goddamn president at a time, and the one we had was hell-bent on invading Iraq. He took advantage of the liberal interventionists, but he would have done what he did without their help if he'd had to.

And even they didn't argue that we should mismanage the war for years in every conceivable way -- that was all his doing.

We used to believe in this country that the buck stopped somewhere in the approximate vicinity of the responsible party. Now we believe that the buck stops with Democrats, or with all of us, whenever something bad happens, and it stops with Republicans -- usually one Republican Daddy -- whenever something somehow works out right.


I also don't accept this from Douthat:

It's a testament to the resilience of American power that we're hearing these kind of arguments so soon after the bloodiest years of the Iraq war. It’s also a testament to the achievements of the American military: absent the successes of the 2007 troop surge, we'd probably be too busy extricating ourselves from a war-torn Iraq to even contemplate another military intervention in a Muslim nation.

Nonsense. We could still be as deep in the Big Muddy as were in, say, 2005 and 2006 and the usual voices would still be arguing that intervention in Libya would be a cakewalk. And they'd be listened to, because they're granted an infinite number of do-overs, no matter how many times they're wrong.

As for "the resilience of American power," it's our belief that we're still indomitable that leads us to this level of belief in our own capabilities, and that's true regardless of the facts. We never stop seeing ourselves as giant-killers, no matter how many times we fail to live up to our own expectations. This is primarily the work of conservative interventionists, who routinely enforce their mythmaking by fag-baiting liberal-baiting anyone who dares to suggest that interventions can have negative consequences.

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