Friday, November 26, 2004

Liberal Hawks: Keep These Rare Birds in Flight

Have the liberal hawks clipped their wings? Tim Cavanaugh at Reason Online thinks so, but at least both Christopher Hitchens and Thomas Friedman in their post-election missives have stuck to their guns (so to speak). And yes there have been mistakes in Iraq--for a good summary read Larry Diamond's recent piece in Foreign Affairs. But in a situation like this and compared to past efforts to free people from tyranny we are making decent progress. If the liberal hawks are felling apprehensive, it wouldn't hurt to read conservative hawk Victor Hanson for some well-reasoned historical context on Iraq. A good example is:

At its richest, most populous stage in its history, the United States, after reeling from a devastating blow to its financial and military nerve centers, in less than three years toppled the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, implemented elections in Afghanistan and scheduled them in Iraq, prevented another 9/11-like attack — and so far has tragically lost about 1,100 in combat in a war against a virulent fascism that is antithetical to every aspect of Western liberty. Our grandfathers would have considered all this a miraculous military achievement. We call it a quagmire, deride our leaders as liars and traitors, and often doubted that our Marines — the greatest street-fighting besiegers in the history of warfare, who stormed Manila, Seoul, Hue, and Panama City — could take Fallujah last April.

When Paul Berman wrote his excellent book Terror and Liberalism and his piece in Dissent , his anti-totalitarian, anti-fascists, pro-democracy, pro-freedom reasons for fighting in Iraq were right on, and despite the problems since they are still right on. The liberal hawks shouldn't abandon the cause just because things got messy. Lincoln didn't after Shiloh and FDR didn't after the loses at Iwo Jima and countless other battles that resulted in over 400,000 American lives. All the world's people deserve freedom, and to give up because achieving freedom is not always easy (it rarely is) would be wrong.

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