July 25, 2005

Anti-War Blind Cynicism (tip to FD)

The Buchananite faction of the libertarians have decided to attempt to cast as much doubt as possible onto any aspect of the war. Their negativity at times ignore facts and at other times is grossly overblown.

First of all, the continued argument that there was no Iraqi conenction to Al Qaeda has been disproven repeatedly by Stephen Hayes. The Baathist-Al Qaeda connection has been shown; there were multiple links between AQ and IIS operatives, including joint missions, diplomatic cooperation and even listing Osama as an IIS asset as early as 1993. It's a token of blind ignorance of the anti-war left that there was no AQ-Iraq link. The fact is that the Iraqis were linked to many terrorist groups and to many notorious terrorists, Al Qaeda included.

Second, the unabashed negativity about the prospects for democracy in Iraq are as unattractive as they are pessimistic. While it's true that the Iraqis still have a ways to go before they get a working democratic government, it's also true that the US doesn't have all the answers yet. Raimndo and Knappster criticized a number of provisions in the Iraqi bill of rights, but apparently they forgot that every one of their criticisms of the Iraqi constitution is a problem in Western democracies as well. Western governments often let 'greater good' or 'public morals' rationales disrupt individual liberties, Western courts often seal records for various reasons, and conscription and firearms licenses are pretty much the standard for democracies and non-democracies.

The problem is that even after a stunning electoral outcome that all the naysayers predicted would fail, after working out a collective government that's ethnically inclusive when all the naysayers foretold of civil war, and after the crafting of a bill of rights that's very roughly equivalent to many democracies around the world all they can complain about is the fact that it has a lot of the same problems other countries do.

They conveniently don't put any real weight on the fact that the Iraqi bill of rights repeatedly and explicitly bans all physical and mental torture. It guarantees a fully independent judiciary and the prsumption of innocence. The Iraqi bill of rights even has a guarantee of private ownership.

Of course, somebody should point out to Raimondo that his 'critique' of the Iraqi constitution is actually of the old draft, not the new one. Many of the more problematic sections were edited or removed entirely, including an anti-Israeli populist tossback.

In a wider sense, the anti-war people in general should not be so harsh and dismissive of opportunities for democracy in Iraq. Nobody should expect a perfectly functional, perfectly libertarian constitutional republic in Iraq to be established by Aprial, 2003. These things take time, especially since democracy is so foreign (thus far) to Arab political culture. Lebanon and Iraq are the two closest examples to Arab democracies (Turkey is Turkic, Israel is Jewish, Iran is Persian) and believe it or not it takes some effort to fit together old customs with new politics. We have decades and centuries of parables, cliches and traditions to back us up, from free speech and trial protections to simple adages about voting and writing your Congressman.

We've been expecting a lot from the Iraqis, and so far they've performed quite well. I realize it plays into the perfectly closed view of the world that many anti-war people have to doubt every aspect of the Iraq war but a reasonable person would have to agree that the good outweighs the bad and that the progress currently being made can be built on in the future. Or I suppose we could resort to sensory-abusive propaganda, selective evidentiary foundations and ridiculously exaggerated expectations in order to innoculate ourselves from any serious philosophical self-examination.

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