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Jonah Goldberg's Compassion

Jonah Goldberg, like many other Republican pundits that want to stay the course in Iraq, are trying to make liberals uncomfortable by speaking of the terrible genocide that would occur in Iraq if American troops left. Liberals are against genocide. How come they would allow genocide in Iraq?

In an op-ed in the L.A. Times, Goldberg taunts liberals:

Liberals used to be the ones who argued that sending U.S. troops abroad was a small price to pay to stop genocide; now they argue that genocide is a small price to pay to bring U.S. troops home.

This is a phony issue from start to finish. The start happened when Republicans like Goldberg beat the drums in order to invade Iraq. At that time did you hear them talking about genocide? No, you heard them talk about WMD and getting rid of Saddam Hussein. They repeated "shock and awe" and "liberating the Iraqis" endlessly.

At that time and all during the war, these Republicans ridiculed liberals and called them traitors. Now that the vast majority of Americans, including plenty of Republicans, are in favor of getting out of Iraq, guys like Goldberg are looking for ways to keep fastening the blame on liberals. The above statement is a brilliant example. If you're so compassionate that you want to help the refugees in Darfur, he says, why don't you want to help the Iraqis?

First, as I said before, liberals never wanted to invade Iraq. Responsibility for the entire tragedy lies with Republicans.

Second, because our troops are so tied down in Iraq we don't have the military capability to help ameliorate the Darfur tragedy. So all politicians can do is talk about it. Liberals want to bring the troops home from Iraq. Some of them could then be dispatched to help bring the Darfur genocide to a halt.

Third, merely because you repeat endlessly that there will be genocide in Iraq if we leave does not mean that it may necessarily happen. I believe the American occupation is the trigger setting off the horrible violence. If we leave, the trigger will be removed and there most likely will be a reduction in violence. Am I sure of this? Of course not. But we already know what happens if we stay. Let's get out and see if things improve.

Civil war is what is going on in Iraq now. Civil war is not genocide. If we leave and the civil war degrades into genocide, then we should return there and help - if the victims ask us. We should help, not join in the war.

Republicans started the Iraq War. Guys like Goldberg are completely responsible for what happens. It's cowardly to blame liberals, most of whom were against the war from the beginning.

Posted by Paul Siegel at July 24, 2007 8:30 PM
Comments
Comment #227349
Civil war is what is going on in Iraq now. Civil war is not genocide.

That’s an interesting idea, especially since you use Darfur as an example of a genocide which we should try to end through military means, and that is a civil war. In fact, a great many if not most genocides have taken place as part of civil wars.

In Iraq, genocide was taking place long before we got there. The massacre of Kurds, Shias, and minority tribes under Saddam is all very well-documented. And one of the reasons the prospect of Saddam with WMDs was used as justification for the war was that Saddam had actually used WMDs in the past against his own people.

If you never heard Bush or other pro-war politicians mention this fact (some with names like Kerry and Clinton), then you just weren’t paying attention.

I totally reject that “most liberals” were against the war from the beginning, or that neither liberals nor Republicans ever used the mass murders that had taken place in Iraq as justification. You’re simply wrong about that.

Oddly, however, I do agree with you at least in part, but probably for different reasons than you’d expect.

I simply don’t think it’s the job of the United States military, funded by the American tax payer, to run around the world heading off genocide where ever it rears its ugly head while the rest of the world sits on its hands. The days of the United States being the world cop need to end.

The same goes for Iraq as Darfur. There’s no doubt that genocide would occur if we pulled out, but that’s not sufficient reason for staying. Changing the appetites of primitive tribal peoples for massacring each other is a noble goal, but it’s really not our problem. If the civilized world wants to take on such projects, then we should participate, but we have to end this cycle where everyone looks to us to do it by ourselves and then attacks us for the actions we take. In Iraq, unlike Darfur, there are much better reasons having to do with our national interests for seeing things through, and the results of a genocidal war in Iraq, aside from the genocide itself, is why it’s impossible to leave before the job is finished.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 25, 2007 12:34 AM
Comment #227352

LO,
While I would agree with you that the US cannot singlehandedly play world cop, that does not mean the only alternative is direct, unilateral intervention. We do have a moral obligation to prevent genocide. While we could fulfill that obligation with military force, we could also fulfill it by working through regional powers & through international cooperation.

Paul,
We cannot make a reasonable estimate of what will happen unless we understand what has already happened, and where we stand today. In fact, ethnic cleansing and civil war have already resulted in at least 2 million Iraqi refugees, and another 2 million internal displacements. But how many Iraqis have died violently already?

Bush does not provide this information to the public. Either it is not collected- which would be grossly negligent- or it is collected and not released. What is actually going on? Who is killing? Who is dying? Along the same lines, how many attacks against infrastructure are occurring?

And to digress a moment to another topic, how many jobs are being outsourced?

Did anyone see the Gonzalez testimony? Man oh man, that was ugly.

Last year, Bush said we were “winning,” “winning,” “unquestionably winning.” Cheney said the War in Iraq was going “remarkably well.” The situation in Iraq has not changed appreciably since then; so what happened?

The fact is, Bush was lying. Today, 41% of all Americans believe Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11. Think about that. It is astonishing.

If Bush keeps lying, either through delusion or intent, and if a large portion of the American citizenry are so grossly, grotesquely misinformed, and if we are not provided with accurate information about what happened, and what is happening today, well… How can we assess what is likely to happen in the future?

Posted by: phx8 at July 25, 2007 1:39 AM
Comment #227358

The fact is, Bush was lying. Today, 41% of all Americans believe Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11. Think about that. It is astonishing.

And a lie. Bush never said that, it’s a democrat lie that’s become kind of an urban legend. He did say that Saddam night have known about 911. Pretty big difference between (maybe) knowing about something and actually participating in it, don’t you think? I’ll bet you can count on one hand the number of Americans that think Saddam was involved in 911.

Posted by: E.M.N.III at July 25, 2007 2:43 AM
Comment #227365

EMN III-
They did actual randomized, vetted surveys on this. One thing I’d like to know from you is how Saddam could have known or might have known about 9/11 in advance without some serious contacts within al-Qaeda? The logic on that is problematic, especially since nobody found the big terrorist camps in Iraq, nor any evidence that Saddam had WMDs, much less the desire to give them to terrorists.

As for it being a lie that Bush said something like that, just what was the original connection between the War on Terror and the War in Iraq, if there was no connection between them? Read the authorization to use force, and it’s directly mentioned.

LO-
What needs to end are the days of the military being used without proper attention to the logistics or the planning. What needs to end is the attitude that the answer to every war is just killing more of the enemy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 25, 2007 9:12 AM
Comment #227367
I totally reject that “most liberals” were against the war from the beginning

You can reject it, but it’s still true.

Look at the original Iraq resolution. 126 Democratic House members and 21 Democratic senators voted against it. That easily qualifies as “most liberals”.

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 25, 2007 9:25 AM
Comment #227379

E.M.N. III,

“I’ll bet you can count on one hand the number of Americans that think Saddam was involved in 911.”

Here is a Newsweek poll from 6/23/07:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19390791/site/newsweek/

“Even today, more than four years into the war in Iraq, as many as four in 10 Americans (41 percent) still believe Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though no evidence has surfaced to support a connection.”

It is no urban legend. It is really that bad. But why are Americans so misinformed? Where did they get this idea?

The primary technique used by Bush administration officials is emotional transference. Every time one of them mentions Iraq, they will quickly mention 9/11.

Here is a great article on the propaganda techniques being used by the Bush administration:

http://dir.salon.com/story/opinion/feature/2003/02/06/iraq_poll/index.html?pn=3

Those propaganda techniques are on display even as we speak. The situation is Iraq is being identified as a war against Al Qaida quite openly by the Bush liars.

Posted by: phx8 at July 25, 2007 2:22 PM
Comment #227403

Woody, 29 Democratic Senators voted for the war and only 21 voted against it.

Yes, there were more Democrats in the House voting against it, but it was not House Democrats getting the headlines or setting the tone of the national debate. Additionally, 73% of the American public as a whole was for it.

I agree that a larger percentage of liberals were against the war (as opposed to other groups), but the “majority” of liberals? I guess it depends as well on who you define as liberals.

As far as connections between 9-11 and Saddam Hussein go, I’d really like to see how Newsweek phrased that question. I don’t believe that there was any connection between 9-11 and Saddam Hussein at all.

There’s no proof of it. No proof is not the same thing as “no evidence” however. There is evidence of a Saddam tie (i.e. Czech intelligence’s claim that Atta, the 9-11 ringleader, had clandestine meetings with Iraqi intelligence officials).

It’s much easier to have evidence of conclusions which are false than it has to have proof of those conclusions. In the case of a tie between Saddam and 9-11, it’s simply false to say that there is NO evidence. The evidence may be bad, the conclusion might be wrong, but there is in fact evidence. So in a poll you could acknowledge that there is evidence of something without actually believing it. Whether respondents to a Newsweek poll are that sophisticated in their answers, however, is an open question.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 25, 2007 10:26 PM
Comment #227411
Liberals used to be the ones who argued that sending U.S. troops abroad was a small price to pay to stop genocide;

When did that happen? Didn’t that idiot Goldberg hear our Democratic candidates the other night refuse to send US troops to Darfur? Did Pres. Clinton send troops to Rwanda? Of course not. Only Republicans are silly enough to commit 160,000 US troops to stop genocide in countries that are of no strategic interest to the US. Yes, I’m talking about Iraq.

73% of the American public as a whole was for it.

…as part of a UN operation. Only 32% favored a unilateral US invasion of Iraq.

Posted by: American Pundit at July 26, 2007 12:08 AM
Comment #227416

AP, I read the article you link to, and its writers are clearly struggling to understand why this one polling outfit found that while 32% of the public wanted UN approval and support from our allies before invading Iraq, the same polling organization also found that 68% said that the US had made the “right decision” in invading Iraq once the invasion had began.

It’s really not that hard to understand, however, and it speaks to how soft and pliable poll numbers actually are and how conditioned they are on how questions are phrased.

Is UN support to be preferred to no UN support? Most people who have not really thought deeply about that question, I suspect, would automatically say, “Why, sure. UN support is better than no UN support.” But then when asked if the US had made the right decision in proceeding without UN support, those same people turned around and said, “Oh yeah, of course.”

To this day, polling on Iraq exhibits the same tendency, and you’ll find that the “majority” opinion is not at all as clear as what the spin-meisters often say it is. When a pollster asks, for example, if the US should withdraw from Iraq or if Bush has mismanaged the war, not everyone who says yes means that they want us to leave NOW before the job is finished or that they subscribe to the beliefs of Bush’s opponents just because they reject Bush’s specific approach.

For example, this recent poll tells us that even today, 42% of Americans are saying NOW that taking military action against Iraq was the right thing to do, and that this number has actually been rising in recent months. Pretty remarkable, considering everything that’s happened since the invasion, and the fact that the media, the Democrats, and even many Republicans, seem to assume that public sentiment is actually going in the opposite direction.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 26, 2007 12:46 AM
Comment #227421

LO, you’re the guy who thew out the misleading poll number. I just supplied the big picture.

And there’s no “struggle” to understand the post invasion support:

A number of factors, already apparent in polls that were taken before the war, foreshadowed how this shift would occur. These included a an underlying belief that taking action against Iraq was in fact a legitimate act of self defense based on the belief that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda when it attacked the US on September 11, a rally-the-round-the-president effect and the mitigating factor of some allied participation.

Hmm… I wonder why Americans would believe that Iraq supported al-Qaeda?

Posted by: American Pundit at July 26, 2007 1:09 AM
Comment #227425

AP, so what happened?

Only 32% wanted an invasion of Iraq without UN support before the war, with 68% against it.

So do you seriously believe that people thought Saddam wasn’t behind 9-11 before the war and then changed their minds about that once the war started? That is what your reading of the polls asks us to believe.

It doesn’t even make sense. What it shows is that Saddam’s involvement in 9-11 wasn’t the factor it’s said to be in people’s attitudes about the war.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 26, 2007 1:46 AM
Comment #227427

LO,

Yes, it depends on who you call a liberal. It seems to me that any reasonable definition would make liberals no more than 30%-35% of the population. If you look at that way, it is clear that the majority of liberals opposed the war.

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 26, 2007 8:00 AM
Comment #227428

… and the war was also opposed by that the New York Times editorial board.

If they don’t fit the word “liberal”, I don’t know who does.

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 26, 2007 8:06 AM
Comment #227432

LO-
There’s a lot of good intelligence that places Atta in Virginia, at the time, preparing the attack. The Czech intelligence was never verified.

Yes, many Democrats voted for this, and many believed at the beginning that the war was right. However, they were convinced of this by the information that the Adminstration has provided, information that has since proven to have been heavily processed by the Bush Administration and Vice President’s staff in order to provide a case to take us into Iraq. They made it a political prerogative, and often second-guessed their own intelligence gatherers and analyst’s notions of what was reliable intelligence in order to get what they wanted.

Congress was relying on the Executive Branch to handle these duties appropriately. The American people were relying on this president not to merely have a persuasive case for selling the war, but to have good, well-collected, well-vetted intelligence for what he was doing, especially since he was putting our country’s reputation on the line.

Instead? He relied on staffers to give him the best reasons to go to war in Iraq. They made the decision before they had the information in hand to properly make that decision. They told us these things, knowing that many of these items were considered thin, if not outright false.

It is only with that kind of reckless disregard for the good practices of intelligence that you see such a monumental and pervasive failure of intelligence like we saw with this war. Nearly every major item has proved false, and that doesn’t happen unless somebody had the prioties on this matter set to what would scare people the most, rather than what could be properly confirmed.

If our intelligence had been better, justifying international cooperation and this war would have been easier. UN support was preferable, because then it would not merely be us and our agenda, and the obligations would go beyond what we could intimidate out of people ourselves. We could spread the costs, and spread the manpower requirements, and lower our profile in a part of the world where America doesn’t make itself popular when it has a high profile

I think Americans think back to the last Gulf War, and find it to be much better managed. They remember how we went in with overwhelming, not merely sufficient, force, how we shouldered only some of the costs, and how our troops were reinforced with UN troops from other countries. They remember fondly having the world behind us, not on the sidelines or lined up against us.

They remember a war that did its job. Kuwait was freed and remains free.

As for your increase in public approval? I’m afraid it’s mostly among your own party. Don’t just look at the overall percentage, look at the parts. Democrats remain at around 20%, and Independents actually like the war less. It’s the Republicans that are regaining confidence in this war, and I think it’s for no better reason than that’s all they’ve heard from all the Republican outlets. Everybody there is saying the surge is working.

Truth of the matter is, that’s not going to last. It may or may not be a dead cat bounce, but it’s much more of Tinkerbell Recovery than a real one.

Lastly, please tell me how in the midst of a war on terror Bush could otherwise have gained the permission to go into Iraq. What it might speak to is American uncertainty, but then, people were fairly trusting of the President. What they wanted at that point was insurance that Americans wouldn’t be going it alone.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 26, 2007 9:02 AM
Comment #227461
AP, so what happened?

Umm… I thought the quote from the article made that clear. Here it is again:

A number of factors, already apparent in polls that were taken before the war, foreshadowed how this shift would occur. These included a an underlying belief that taking action against Iraq was in fact a legitimate act of self defense based on the belief that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda when it attacked the US on September 11, a rally-the-round-the-president effect and the mitigating factor of some allied participation.

In any event, your initial assertion that there was broad support for OIF is wrong.

Posted by: American Pundit at July 26, 2007 4:01 PM
Comment #293108

Our American troops should come home and re-negotiate their oath. The one they took to uphold the Constitution of the U.S.A. You know the one that all the old former hippies in D.C. are ignoring as they continue to put themselves above the laws of our great country.
Its been a year of lousy pushy law breaking ideas…I can’t help but wonder if they plan to mine gold and pump oil when everyone is finally broke and impoverished. Here’s a flash for foreigners…stay home don’t come here,,,the only difference is the language. At least other countries call a terrorist a terrorist and not a misguided person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Posted by: Debra Beeni at December 28, 2009 1:38 AM
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