Top 10 Letters
Idealism on the left and right, our Saudi problem, and more.
11:00 PM, Dec 9, 2002
THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.
Speaking as one who has abandoned the left screaming in panic, David Skinner has hit the nail on the head with his article ("No More Idealism on the Left"). The Left has lost its sense of purpose, its reason for being, and just generally, its sense and reason. I remember the days when it was easy to mock the meanness of the Republicans--Newt and his crowd were so vitriolic, it was impossible to hear any message. Today, it is the Dems who spew hate and meanness without any message behind it. The Republicans can count on me as long as they stay positive, focused, and intent on the freedoms of our country and spreading those gifts to the world. Amnesty International used to believe in that. I am an idealist, and I am a Republican now.
I think David Skinner has seriously misunderstood the basis of the "Left's" movement against the war on Iraq. Principled opposition to war is based on a belief that human life is of ultimate importance and sanctity. (I doubt even the "right" would disagree with this idea.) I place myself firmly on the "left" and condemn the abuses of Saddam Hussein as fully as I condemn the actions of the perpetrators of the attack on the World Trade Center. However, it is perfectly coherent and legitimate that I equally strongly choose to condemn the motivations of a corporate and oil-hungry government in its bombing of innocent civilians in a war that will do nothing to help the people of a repressive regime, and will serve only to ensure a free flow of gasoline to an over-privileged nation.
Would this war also "do" anything about Saddam Hussein's regime and offer relief to the people of Iraq? Perhaps. But could we pursue the same ends by other, diplomatic, peaceful means? Perhaps. Given the choice, I would support the option without the killing, violence, death and imperialist aggression. I think that the "Left" would have shown some degree of sympathy for an attack on Iraq based on the pure and noble motives of freedom for all. But, please ask yourself, Mr. Skinner, do you honestly believe that George W. Bush wants to start a war in the interests of the repressed women and minorities of Iraq?
Perhaps you do, and in that case I think that it is clear who the "dreamer" is here.
David Skinner is quite right when he notes that "the Left has given up principled opposition for the sake of mere opposition." The Left's boggling and senseless opposition to regime change in Iraq emerges mostly from a lack of options. Leftists face the choice of supporting Bush's push for a regime change or supporting the sovereign rights of a despot. The fact that many Leftists have opted for the latter suggests that they must find something uniquely distasteful about the former. What the Left just can't swallow is the idea that the Right truly has human rights in mind when it speaks of regime change. Instead Leftists speculate bizarrely that the Right seeks only to exercise fascist dominion over peoples it regards as inferior. Alternatively, Leftists assert that the Right is solely motivated by economic interests. This, of course, is part of the absurd thinking that there can only be one motivation for a course of action when in fact it is quite possible for Bush to have in mind the future security of the United States, humanitarian concerns for the people of Iraq, and yes, a recognition of potential economic benefits from regime change.
What the Left cherishes most preciously is its claim to moral righteousness. Jumping on board with Bush on the Iraq issue would require the Left to share that claim and, worse yet, to recognize that the Right too may act with moral concerns in mind.
While I happen to support armed regime change in Iraq, I hardly think that opposing that policy amounts to condoning procedural rape, religious dictatorships, and repression of basic human rights. To not invade a nation is not to approve of its leadership. Indeed, the Right has had little problem affirmatively embracing dictatorships guilty of many of these sins when it is perceived that such an embrace furthers American interests, going so far as to train and then protect those that murder nuns and priests.
Great article by David Skinner.