Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) calls the president’s plan an “escalation.”
Condi Rice calls it an “augmentation.”
Nevermind that both words are defined as “an increase,” the American people – 70% of them anyway – are against the president’s plan. (But not Joe Lieberman. You can count him in the ranks that include such bastions of liberal thinking as Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis). ) Or, perhaps Lieberman follows the bifurcated thinking of Jonah Goldberg, whose editorial today is titled, “At Least Bush Wants to Win the War.”
Goldberg accuses Dems and liberals as being unwilling or unable to formulate a stand on the Iraq War that is either “end it” or “win it,” and characterizes the inability to fall clearly to one side or the other as “flatly immoral.”
He may have a point, albeit a weak one, and those Dems who endorsed the Bush administration’s Iraq invasion plans in 2003 are certainly subject to criticism. Those of us on the left who opposed the war from the very beginning, warning that a preemptive strike against Iraq was ill-conceived, based on faulty, trumped-up intelligence and that a war in Iraq would eventually destabilize the Middle East even more, have turned out to be correct.
Where Goldberg really gets it wrong is in claiming moral superiority for Bush’s “win it” plan of action. A war based on lies, omissions and conceived for purely political gains will never earn its leaders the moral high ground that Goldberg and other neocons wish to claim. More than 3,000 US servicemen and women have died in their war, along with many more thousands of Iraqi citizens – women and children among them.
And having been right about Iraq from the very beginning is little consolation to those of us on the left. The Middle East is in shambles. It’s a bloodbath, and US actions under the leadership of Republicans and George W. Bush have made the situation more dangerous than ever before. Figuring out how to repair the damage and staunch the growing numbers of dead on all sides will require more than gasbag lectures on morality from the likes of Jonah Goldberg.
If our newly elected Democratic Congress is reluctant to categorize future action in Iraq in the black and white terms of conservatives, I hope their motives go beyond the fear of losing votes. I hope their struggle is an honest search for a new way of thinking about the mess we are in.
Goldberg and his ilk may wish to prop up Bush with terms like “forthright,” “wise,” “sober,” and “stubborn,” but Bush’s credibility with the American public has been lost, and his new “surge” plan just looks like more of everything we’ve seen before.
More soldiers. More money. More conflict. More deaths.