Friday, December 03, 2004

More on New Liberalism

The responses to The New Republic’s piece on New Liberalism are popping in the blogosphere. Kevin Drum, the Political Animal at Washington Monthly, writes an interesting critique. He claims:

The crusades against fascism and communism won majority support only when it became absolutely clear that they were expansionist ideologies that posed a deep and ongoing threat to the security of the rest of the world.

He goes on to claim that the current situation does not pose such a threat. He also argues we entered WWII several years after the totalitarian regimes of Germany and Japan had wrought destruction on their immediate realms of influence and only entered the Cold War after the Soviets controlled Eastern Europe and developed a nuclear bomb. I find several problems with his view:


1) It is quite possible that we, and the rest of the free world, waited too long to respond to Germany, Japan, or the Soviets. If we had acted sooner, would fewer people have died?
2) Are we supposed to wait until Iran, its terrorist surrogates, or another rogue regime or organization acquires a nuclear weapon, or kills x number of people before we do anything? By then is it too late.
3) Also this position implies that “security” is the only reason to pursue aggressive democratization (which doesn’t necessarily require military force). That is definitely a good reason to support it. But is there also a moral obligation to fight tyranny and oppression for all people? It is not just the U.S. that deserves to have a secure democracy.

I would prefer not to wait until fighting the threat requires the death 400,000 Americans as WWII did, or spending billions and billions of dollars on the military over 50 years as we did in the Cold War. I would prefer to fight tyranny now with the least cost in both blood and treasure, and at the same time spread democracy. I think Beinart got it right.

Legal Fiction thinks he got it 95% right, but questions the use of military force. I too am very reluctant to use military force, as, believe it or not, are most people even hawks, but sometimes (it pains me to say) it is necessary, especially against thugs who seem to understand little else and are more than willing to use violence themselves. But one point Legal got 95% right is:

At times, we need to sit down, pierce through the hatred of Bush and imagine being a women in Kabul or Fallujah. Imagine being born under the Taliban. These are nasty people who represent everything we don’t….I don’t want to lose a billion people to this movement. (Emphasis added).

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