Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wedded to Defeat

In the interest of maintaining my employment (which is on ice as thin as ever), I will have to be dodgy in writing this post. Links will be impossible. You'll just have to take my word for it. If you can't do that, just ignore it.

Recently David Cortright spoke here. He's an old '60s era peace activist, one of John Kerry's former buddies. He has evolved down the path of Christian pacifism with an extreme degree of idealism perhaps tinged with a bit of the nastiness that tainted much of the '60s anti-establishment movement. He's not in Chomskyland, but he's in the next county over from it.

Of course, the columnist (not reporter -- important distinction) who covered his visit here found him just the most perfect thing. If you want some evidence of what Kat was talking about in the comments thread below, how the veer of Iraq toward stability simply has not penetrated the heads of journalists, it's there aplenty in this column.

The war "has been long and the cost high;" the situation is "bleak," with "ongoing carnage," but there's good news. The Anbar awakening? No. The returning of refugees? No. The slow rise in competence of Iraqi forces? The revival of business and public social life? The truce with Iran and the Shi'ite militias? Keep going. The good news, see, is that Americans have "learned a hard lesson about the utility of war and the limits of firepower."

The good news, in other words, is that we dunderheads have accept our defeat and are chastened by it.

And that was what our journalist said. Then he quoted the part of the Cortright speech that most moved him. Cortright rallied the peace activists to redouble their efforts, on behalf of those "who are trembling under American bombs and firepower" and on behalf of our troops, who "shoulder the burden of these misguided military policies."

He made a bid to uplift the spirits of the assembled peace activists by assuring them a failed war "diminishes the confidence that people have in the prospect that wars will work in the future."

"The voters are more open to our arguments now," he said, "and it's another reason why we have to keep making them."

Now, not every war opponents is thinking this way today. But it is impossible to deny that some people value pacifism over patriotism. And some other people's notion of patriotism takes the peculiar twist that this country is so far gone into militarism and fascism that the only cure for it is a scourging with the rod of defeat. And Iraq, to them, is that rod. And both sets would find it a bitter, bitter pill to swallow if Baghdad should turn out not so bad in the end.

Is that "rooting for failure?" Is that prematurely "embracing defeat?" I think it can be called that.

From the point of view of Iraqis trying to salvage their land with our help, that certainly must look like one of the most cruel, puerile, and arrogant fantasy worlds ever constructed.