The Defeatists By Jay Rosen

Christopher Hitchens has yet another brilliantly contrarian pice in Salon on the Iraq war. He asks the most critical question of the current time: does the antiwar side want us to lose in Iraq?

How can so many people watch this as if they were spectators, handicapping and rating the successes and failures from some imagined position of neutrality? Do they suppose that a defeat in Iraq would be a defeat only for the Bush administration? The United States is awash in human rights groups, feminist organizations, ecological foundations, and committees for the rights of minorities. How come there is not a huge voluntary effort to help and to publicize the efforts to find the hundreds of thousands of “missing” Iraqis, to support Iraqi women’s battle against fundamentalists, to assist in the recuperation of the marsh Arab wetlands, and to underwrite the struggle of the Kurds, the largest stateless people in the Middle East? Is Abu Ghraib really the only subject that interests our humanitarians?

I don’t think the left really gives a damn about the Iraqi people. Not anymore. They were perfectly content to use them as political pawns, lamenting the sanctions regime that was supposedly killing thousands every year – and that has not changed. To the left, the intrinsic worth of the Iraqi people is only in the fact that they can be used to achieve their political ends. The fact that they’re being murdered en masse by foreign jihadis and fascists really doesn’t seem to concern the self-righteous stewards of international law and peace.

For instance, how much ink and hot air have been spewed forth over Abu Ghraib compared to the token condemnations of terrorism in Iraq? Abu Ghraib, as reprehensible as it was, is nothing compared to the daily atrocities of the head-lopping child murderers of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

And yet where are the vigorous condemnations of that? Where is the equivalent to groups like Spirit of America? Where are the human rights groups when it comes to defending the fundamental and crucial right of the Iraqi people to be free of terrorism?

Suspiciously quiet, it would seem.

It is quite clear that the antiwar side thinks that their war against the Bush Administration outweighs civilization’s war against Islamofascist barbarism. The values of human rights should be universal values, and even if the antiwar side had principled arguments against the war when it began, the demands that the United States leave the Iraqi people to the wolves is either incredibly naïve or motivated by a horrendously twisted moral logic.

Hitchens continues:

Question: Why have several large American cities not already announced that they are going to become sister cities with Baghdad and help raise money and awareness to aid Dr. Tamimi? When I put this question to a number of serious anti-war friends, their answer was to the effect that it’s the job of the administration to allocate the money, so that there’s little room or need for civic action. I find this difficult to credit: For day after day last month I could not escape the news of the gigantic “Live 8? enterprise, which urged governments to do more along existing lines by way of debt relief and aid for Africa. Isn’t there a single drop of solidarity and compassion left over for the people of Iraq, after three decades of tyranny, war, and sanctions and now an assault from the vilest movement on the face of the planet? Unless someone gives me a persuasive reason to think otherwise, my provisional conclusion is that the human rights and charitable “communities” have taken a pass on Iraq for political reasons that are not very creditable.

Hitchens is correct – the Iraqi people are just pawns to the antiwar movement at this point. The constant defeatist rhetoric from the left betrays the complete and utter lack of principle behind the antiwar movement – they want Iraq to fail because then they can bask in their own self-superiority and wag their fingers at those evil “neocons” who dared to violate their pet project of subjugating all authority to the hopelessly corrupt United Nations.

And if that failure should cost a few thousand or a few million Iraqi lives? Well, the antiwar movement can then blame that on the US as well.

If the antiwar movement really gave a damn about the people of Iraq or the values of human rights, justice, and tolerance, they’ve be helping in Iraq. They’d be donating tons of food, holding benefit concerts for the Iraqi people, sending humanitarian workers to places like Baghdad and Basra to help restore Iraq’s shattered infrastructure and teach the basic values of democracy and pluralism.

But what has the left done for Iraq? At best they’ve sat on the sideline and bitched. At worst, they volunteered themselves to become “human shields” to protect the very regime that was raping and murdering the people of Iraq by the score.

In 1942, George Orwell wrote this passage in Partisan Review about British pacifists that applies just as well to the antiwar movement of today:

Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that is not with me is against me.’

The left has to ask themselves where they chose to stand. Do they stand with Zarqawi’s brutal murderers, the Ba’athist thugs leftover from the tyrannical Hussein regime, and the radical right-wing Islamic fundamentalists who want to indiscriminately murder women, gays, and anyone else who doesn’t submit to their fundamentalist version of Islam or do they wish to stand on the side of a free and independent Iraq in which women have full political rights, Iraq’s various ethic groups live in peace, and dissent and freedom of expression is encouraged? The idea that they can stand on the fence has long since passed.

One can make a credible humanitarian argument that the war shouldn’t have happened. However, that doesn’t earn anyone the right to cheerlead for failure in Iraq. The left constantly whines that even though they don’t support the war they’re not for the other side – Orwell was right, that isn’t a defensible position.

Those who sit on the sidelines and do nothing but complain and spout the language of defeat and ignominious appeasement are the useful idiots of the enemy. Dissent is not a substitute for real patriotism, and arguments have consequences. It is time for the antiwar side to stop trying to run from the consequences of their positions and finally state which side they wish to be on.

This content was used with the permission of Single Malt Pundit.

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