Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Where are the liberals?
Christopher Hitchens is one of my favorite columnists. Frankly, I disagree with Hitchens on most domestic issues, such as abortion and other things. He is a very liberal liberal. However, he is a strong supporter of the Iraq War.
He writes from London, Washington and elsewhere. He is sharp and does not hold anything back.
In fact, he is currently promoting a new book published by The University of California Press: A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq. This is a book of essays from the left, including Hitchens and others. It is edited by Thomas Cushman, editor of the Human Rights Review.
Hitchens recently jumped on the NYTimes: "Why does the New York Times insist on calling jihadists "insurgents"?" (http://slate.msn.com/id/2118820/ )
His latest article on the Iraq War asks some pertinent questions:
"The United States is awash in human rights groups, feminist organizations, ecological foundations, and committees for the rights of minorities.
How come there is not a huge voluntary effort to help and to publicize the efforts to find the hundreds of thousands of "missing" Iraqis, to support Iraqi women's battle against fundamentalists, to assist in the recuperation of the marsh Arab wetlands, and to underwrite the struggle of the Kurds, the largest stateless people in the Middle East?
Is Abu Ghraib really the only subject that interests our humanitarians?
Isn't there a single drop of solidarity and compassion left over for the people of Iraq, after three decades of tyranny, war, and sanctions and now an assault from the vilest movement on the face of the planet?
Unless someone gives me a persuasive reason to think otherwise, my provisional conclusion is that the human rights and charitable "communities" have taken a pass on Iraq for political reasons that are not very creditable.
And so we watch with detached curiosity, from dry land, to see whether the Iraqis will sink or swim." (http://slate.msn.com/id/2124157/
I remember South Africa and Chile. I remember how liberals were up front and active supporting democratic movements and dissidents in those countries.
Apartheid was obviously an awful institution. I was glad to see that the US was one of the countries that pushed the leaders of South Africa to end it.
Yet, the white leaders of South Africa did not drop chemical weapons on their dissidents. They did not invade a neighbor, sack its capital city like modern barbarians and annex it unilaterally as a province.
Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner for over 20 years. Yet, he was never forced to watch his daughter, granddaughter or wife get raped in front of him.
Saddam did all of these things, as well as violate every
international agreement that he ever signed.
In Chile, Pinochet had a mixed record. His economic policies are the envy of Latin America. Chile is the only country in the continent with a vibrant economy and stable currency. Pinochet gets very high marks on transforming Chile from statism to a very competitive economy with steady growth.
Let's face it. Chile and Brazil are about the same distance from the US. It takes a similar effort (and cost) to move from there to the US.
More and more, Brazilians are showing up in the US-Mexico border.
Have you seen any Chileans?
Chile has gained from Pinochet economics. Brazil has Lula and his economics are driving Brazilians to the US.
Yet, I don't make excuses for Pinochet's excesses. Some dissidents disappeared. Some were thrown in jail. I was very critical of Pinochet's excesses! I believe that right and left wing dictators should be criticized for human rights abuses.
However, Pinochet did not flood marshes and cause environmental damage to destroy Allende's supporters. He did not throw leftist opponents from the roof of buildings. His two sons did not go around Santiago picking up girls and raping them at one of their palaces. He did not chop off an opponent's head and deliver it to a wife in a sack.
Saddam's sons did that.
There weren't 300,000 mass graves in Chile or South Africa either.
Where are the liberals today?
Why aren't the same liberals who fought for the rights of Chileans and South Africans proud to stand up for the Iraqis?
Why have they chosen to sit on the sidelines?
Furthermore, where are the feminist marches applauding the fact that thousands of women voted in Afghanistan? Or even in Iraq?
What about the Iraqi constitution?
Future liberals will look back and ask: where were the liberals of 2005? Why were they missing in Iraq or Afghanistan?
I think that Hitchens is right. This is about the left's irrational dislike of Bush. What else could it be?
As PM Tony Blair said last January:
"On the one side you have people who desperately want to make the democratic process work, and want the same type of democratic freedoms other parts of the world enjoy, and on the other side people who are killing and intimidating and trying to destroy a better future for Iraq. Our response should be to stand alongside the democrats."
Why aren't the Western democrats standing with the Iraqi democrats?
William Shawcross wrote "Blair is right. Why aren't more democrats backing these elections?" published in the UK's Guardian a few months ago:
"Where are French and German and Spanish protests against the terror being inflicted on voters in Iraq? And it is shocking that around the world there is not wider admiration of, assistance to and moral support (and more) for the Iraqi people."
Where are the Western liberals? They are missing in action on this struggle between those who want to vote and those who want to kill voters.
Frankly, this is not the liberals' finest hour. In fact, future liberals may look back and ask: Why did we stay on the sidelines?
Posted by Silvio Canto, Jr. Post Link ---> 6:04 AM
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