I yearn for the day when “I was a full-throated supporter of the Iraq War” is understood — by writer and reader alike — to be a more damning admission than “I took Ecstasy once in college.”
I know it’s bad form to follow up on my own post so quickly, but I fear that I may have shortchanged the enormity of the assertion that “For an Iraqi, there was no price too high to pay to rid the country of Saddam Hussein.” Allow me to riff a bit, with a nod to some of the commenters.
Let’s say that, in an instant, America — no, the whole world — could be magically remade into David Frum’s utopia. I don’t want to imagine what that would be like, and I probably wouldn’t live long enough to see much of it, but whatever. All the evils that Frum deplores could be scrubbed from the planet, and for a relatively small price in the grand scheme of things: his wife and three kids. (This is not just some far-fetched philosophy-class hypothetical; numerous Iraqis have lost their entire families in the last eight years.) Would Frum pay that price?
I don’t want to speak for him, but I strongly suspect that he would not. He’s not a robot, after all. He surely has normal human feelings for his own family. Faced with the prospect of any harm coming to them, he would likely accept the persistence of “evil” in the world and forgo Frumtopia. (He’s free to correct me on this in comments.)
But Frum doesn’t hesitate to declare the lives of up to 30 million other people an acceptable price. He doesn’t even linger over the matter: 18 words and he’s on to the next issue. Thirty million people. But he means well.
“Sociopath” was far too vague a term for Frum. How about “genocidal maniac with a heart of gold”?
Last week, David Frum, of “Unpatriotic Conservatives” and “axis of evil” fame, wrote the following as part of a foreign policy Q&A:
Iraq: Knowing everything you know now, if you had been in Congress in 2002, would you have voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, yes or no?
No. For an Iraqi, there was no price too high to pay to rid the country of Saddam Hussein. For Americans, the issue was not Saddam’s badness, but his nuclear weapons program. Knowing that the nuclear program was not a real threat, the invasion was too large a commitment. The world is a better place without Saddam, but as with everything, the question is one of costs and benefits. The costs to the U.S. were too high, the benefits to the U.S. too few.
Some praised Frum for his gutsy rethinking of a now-unpopular policy that he fiercely advocated when it mattered. Andrew Sullivan — of course — nominated Frum for the Yglesias Award (in Sullivan’s world, it’s high praise to compare someone to Matthew Yglesias but a grave insult to compare someone to Nicholas Von Hoffman).
But re-read this sentence: “For an Iraqi, there was no price too high to pay to rid the country of Saddam Hussein.” This may be the most appalling thing David Frum has ever written, and that’s saying something. If it doesn’t knock the wind out of you, then drink a cup of coffee, rummage around for your soul, and read it again. I wonder whether Frum paused for even a nanosecond before proclaiming — on behalf of the 30 million or so residents of Iraq – that “there was no price too high to pay to rid the country of Saddam Hussein.” We need not list the specific “prices” millions of Iraqis have paid in dead children, dead parents, destroyed homes, lost arms and legs, etc., to recognize this as the nonchalance of a sociopath.
The David Frums may update their packaging from time to time, but inside, they’re the same poison.
“Celebrate, Israel, with all the joyous gratitude that fills your hearts, as we all do along with you.
“Then round up [Shalit’s] captors, the slaughtering, death-worshiping, innocent-butchering, child-sacrificing savages who dip their hands in blood and use women—those who aren’t strapping bombs to their own devils’ spawn and sending them out to meet their seventy-two virgins by taking the lives of the school-bus-riding, heart-drawing, Transformer-doodling, homework-losing children of Others—and their offspring—those who haven’t already been pimped out by their mothers to the murder god—as shields, hiding behind their burkas and cradles like the unmanned animals they are, and throw them not into your prisons, where they can bide until they’re traded by the thousands for another child of Israel, but into the sea, to float there, food for sharks, stargazers, and whatever other oceanic carnivores God has put there for the purpose.”
Shalit was a bit more forgiving:
“I hope this deal helps achieve peace between both sides, Israel and the Palestinians. …
“I would be very happy if the [Palestinian prisoners] were all released so that they can go back to their families and their lands. I would be very happy if this happened.”
Sarah Palin will not run for president in 2012. Though Andrew Sullivan can be expected to persist in his quest to deploy U.N. inspectors to Palin’s uterus, the nation’s less-cracked Obamatons will have to build a new uber-bogeyman to juxtapose with the Lightworker.Andrew just blogged his little heart out about evil Sarah a few hours ago! And what did he have to say about the man who just executed a U.S. citizen without even the pretense of due process?
Obama has ended torture and pursued a real war, not an ideological spectacle. He has destroyed almost all of al Qaeda of 9/11 (if Zawahiri is taken out, no one is left), obliterated its ranks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, found and killed bin Laden, in a daring raid pushed relentlessly by the president alone, capturing alongside a trove of intelligence, procured as a consequence of courage and tenacity rather than cowardice and torture. …
Back in 2001, I wondered if Bush would be the president to win this war, while hoping he would. I wondered if his errors might lead to a successor who learned from them. That hope has now been fulfilled – more swiftly and decisively than I once dared to dream about.
Monday night’s debate reminds me of an insightful analysis from the last campaign. Randy Barnett, Georgetown University law professor and anarchist, wrote the following in The Wall Street Journal in July 2007:
While the number of Americans who self-identify as “libertarian” remains small, a substantial proportion agree with the core stances of limited constitutional government in both the economic and social spheres — what is sometimes called “economic conservatism” and “social liberalism.” But if they watched the Republican presidential debate on May 15, many Americans might resist the libertarian label, because they now identify it with strident opposition to the war in Iraq, and perhaps even to the war against Islamic jihadists.
During that debate, the riveting exchange between Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul about whether American foreign policy provoked the 9/11 attack raised the visibility of both candidates. When Mr. Paul, a libertarian, said that the 9/11 attack happened “because we’ve been over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years,” Mr. Giuliani’s retort — that this was the first time he had heard that “we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq . . . and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11” — sparked a spontaneous ovation from the audience. It was an electrifying moment that allowed one to imagine Mr. Giuliani as a forceful, articulate president.
Four years later, we’re still imagining the utopia that could have been if America’s mayor had picked up only 1,191 more delegates. Well, don’t despair, pro-war anarchists. There’s always Rick Santorum.