Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Good Fight

It is intensely frustrating to me that only the Republicans have a strategy for national security that does not reek of apology for who we are and what we stand for. Who are the American nationalists in the Democratic Party?

That's a line from an excellent Tigerhawk post centered on two names sure to warm a liberal hawk's heart: Peter Beinart and Christopher Hitchens. In this case, Beinart is the author. The book is "The Good Fight : Why Liberals -- and Only Liberals -- Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again," which suffers from the maddening modern insistence on mistaking thesis statements for book titles. The book isn't out yet, but Hitchens has a review of it in the May "Atlantic."

Here's Hitch in fine form:

The hard-liners in 1948 were principled enough to do the Democratic Party the favor of deserting it and running their own slate. They were also, one might concede, at least intelligible in their naiveté about the U.S.S.R. A thinking person could, then at least, be brought to believe that state socialism was an improvement on monopoly capitalism, and that war was to be avoided at any price. In the present case, however, not only are the hard-liners the activist and fund-raising core of the party; they also express ambivalence about a foe that does not even pretend to share the values of the Enlightenment, and that is furthermore immune to the cruder rationality of MAD. The Soviet leadership had every reason to avoid suicide, while the Islamist fanatics dream of nothing else. In this context, Beinart’s wishful and halfhearted belief that Saddam Hussein could have been contained is the one position that nobody can seriously hold. He gives himself away when he argues that a continuation of the cruel and indiscriminate sanctions could have led the Baathist regime to self-destruct. Has he even tried to imagine what Iraq would have looked like on the day that that self-destruction occurred? Let us just assume that it would not have been a Velvet Revolution. It would have more closely resembled a Rwanda or a Congo on the Gulf. Bad as things are now, they would certainly have been worse.