Why Some On The Left Support Going To Liberia, But Not Iraq

by John Hawkins | July 8, 2003 3:07 pm

Why Some On The Left Support Going To Liberia, But Not Iraq: Even someone who doesn’t follow politics that closely would have to sense something askew in the contradictory positions taken by Democratic note-worthies like Jessie Jackson & Howard Dean on Iraq & Liberia. Both men were strongly opposed to invading Iraq, yet favor using our military to intervene in Liberia, ostensibly on humanitarian grounds.

But if this was really about doing good works, both Jackson and Dean should be huge supporters of the Iraqi invasion. After all, Hussein and his children raped, tortured and enslaved the Iraqi people, gassed and slaughtered dissenters, and filled the countryside with mass graves. In fact, freeing the almost 25 million Iraqis who were pinned beneath Saddam’s iron boot was an act of compassion that far surpasses interceding in little Liberia, population 3 million.

So why were Jackson, Dean, & so many others on the left rabidly opposed to going to Iraq, while supporting sending US troops to Liberia? Some have suggested that it’s pure politics and that they merely want to appeal to the black vote in the US. That has a ring of truth to it, but I don’t think it entirely explains things. It also goes without saying that pure partisanship plays a part. Iraq was “Bush’s war” and anything Bush supports will be opposed by many on the left. But again, I think that’s just another contributing factor, not the root of the anti-Iraq/pro-Liberia crowd’s beliefs.

In reality, what we’re really seeing on display here are some of the rarely talked about core principles of foreign policy that the left in America has embraced at least since the days of George McGovern.

You see the American left has a very different approach to using the military than the American right. Liberals believe that using America’s military to further American interests is immoral. Moreover, the idea that an American President would decide to use American troops to further American interests is so repugnant to the left that any good that might come out of that exercise of American power seems insignificant by comparison. So to lefties, using America’s military in places like Bosnia & Liberia is good because we have no real interests there, while using our military in places like Iraq & Grenada is bad — even if we do good work there as well — because we also benefit by our actions.

In addition, the American left strongly believes in a global community. So much so that were they able to get away with it, the majority of American liberals would be happy to give the UN veto power over when & how we could use our troops. For many on the left, being popular in Europe & at the UN trumps everything else — including the security of the American people.

Given that these views are commonplace on the left, one almost wishes that mere petty politics was causing people to say “no to Iraq” & “yes to Liberia.” Regrettably, that’s not the case.

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