Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A rightwinger with integrity

Greg Djeregian is a man of the right, but he has the moral and intellectual integrity to tell it like it is regarding the widespread Bush-mandated torture of prisoners.

Even more apposite is the first comment to Greg's posting:
This officially approved torture is appalling. We are becoming the enemy, the terrorists. I object on moral grounds, patriotic grounds and even on strategic grounds.

I will, however, point out to you, Greg, that the left has been objecting - speaking loudly - since evidence of systematic torture first appeared.

It has been the right that has attempted to diminish the significance of what occurred. Some on the right have even justified torture. I'm sure they will continue to do so. And that includes those in the Bush administration.

Now it appears that the order to torture came down from the White House. The story is breaking as we sit.

Again, this is what the left is talking about when we refer to the right as "brownshirts", "nazis", etc, etc. You don't like the name calling, but we've seen this tendency toward morally compromised barbarism on the right for years; from Allende to the death squads of the contras to the gitmo. From foreign policy to domestic.

No, the left has been speaking out; even predicting this sort of thing from Bush and his cronies. The right called us traitors, cowards, brie eating surrenders, pipe-dreamers, etc, etc.

Just like we were right about the lack of WMD in Iraq prior to the war, we are right about Bush's refusal to go along with international courts and such for fear of being brought up on horrendous charges for crimes planned and planned well in advance.

The left has been correct and vocal. The right has been incorrect and has tried to silence the left.

This is exactly right. The rightwingers have made a horrid, world-historical mess in Iraq, and they deserve and will receive eternal historical opprobrium for what they have done.

But this commentary raises an issue I must confess I've been struggling with. The bottom line is that no matter how criminally insane it was to attack Iraq, at this point we've made our geopolitical bed and now we must sleep in it: we have no choice but to work to improve the situation in Iraq.

The problem arises, however, in that any improvement in the situation in Iraq will instantly be seized upon for partisan purposes by the Bush regime -- to increase its overall political capital in the service of promoting the wingnut domestic agenda.

Hence the dilemma: despite the fact that we all need to achieve success in Iraq, it is almost impossible for any moderate to root for any Republican-led policy to be successful anywhere, since any success they have they will use to further destroy what moderates hold dear domestically. In short, the intensity of the partisanship of the other side makes it hard to support them even when they are a lo largo right. (To reiterate: the choice to go to war was a complete calamity; but now that we're in there, leaving just isn't an option.)

I mean, Hitler believed in re-planting deforested parts of Germany. But would you have signed up to support him in that effort?

The Bush regime cannot be bartered with in the normal parliamentary sense: Bushists believe that 27% "majorities" give them the right to do whatever they please. And this intense domestic partisanship on their part makes it very difficult for their domestic political opponents to do the right thing by Iraq. The sad fact is that any progress we experience in Iraq can only serve to give Bush the political capital to do even worse things to America.

In other words, supporting the right thing for Iraqis (i.e. stabilization, peace, and democracy) is directly contrary to my interest as an American, since such progress in Iraq will strengthen the political hand of the dire enemies of what I hold dear about my own country.

What I am describing, in short, is the backlash -- perhaps payback is a better word -- from Bush's use of the war as a partisan tool in domestic political battles.

Update: The oil and gas industry worker quoted in this NYT article gets it exactly right: "I would never have gone there from the beginning, but that's beside the point now," Mr. Spear said, his jaw clenched. "We upset the apple cart and now there's pretty much no choice. We have to proceed."

The outstanding question, of course, is how to proceed. And even in this, as with everything else about its foreign policy, the Bush regimes is continuing to get it all wrong.

No comments: