Friday, March 28, 2008

The Space Between

In the advent of a blessed new arrival in my household, one of the few indulgences I have allowed myself lately is a few hands of poker with friends from my neighborhood. Instead of being a good little blogger and publishing a new post, I recently spent a night with seven other middle-class strivers while trying to keep enough of my own money to make this month's mortgage. Despite nearly all of them being card carrying members of ALPA (and my being the lone conservative skunk at the party), a good time was had by all.

Although there were some verbal nudges and pokes going around the table in between hands, it was during the apres-poker drive home where the liberal fur started flying. As I was the sober one - all the better to drive home safely should my crumb cruncher-to-be wish to untimely rip itself from the womb - I DD'ed while my two of my inebriated cohorts lectured me on the various outrages of the Bush administration vis-a-vis foreign policy.

I was assured that, if only Bush & Co. would consent to talk to the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-IL and whichever Castro brother is in charge this week, the clouds would be parted by beams of heavenly light, and peace would reign throughout the world. The lateness of the hour yesterday lends itself to the fuzziness of my recollection today, so I will not attempt to recount the entire conversation. Suffice it to say that while my friends agreed that Iran and Korea are "bad actors," they concluded that it was the fault of George W. Bush that we are (allegedly) the object of international opprobrium at present.

The notion that it is better to negotiate with the most irredeemable reprobates is hardly singular. Indeed, at one time or another, it has propelled the campaigns of both Democrats and Republicans (as discussed elsewhere.) That these same personalities can hardly bring themselves to extend a similar forbearance to a sitting president is the only remarkable element in this narrative, they being more ready to substitute inchoate raging for coherent and dispassionate reasoning about Bush's foreign policy successes and foibles. (A good measure of the degree of a person's progressivism quotient is to measure the time interval between a casual mention of George Bush and their responding with either "impeach," "worst president ever" or "war criminal.")

Liberals of the ilk of my poker buddies claim that the Iraq War remains an unremitting disaster, with evermore thousands of lives and billions in treasure summarily flushed into a Mesopotamian rat hole. They commend immediate withdrawal to our attention, even as they recommended interminable negotiations and U.N. junkets to Baghdad in lieu of war. As we might expect, they feel entirely nonplussed (or more accurately,
) by a report from the Institute for Defense Analyses' Iraqi Perspectives Project claiming that there was "no 'smoking gun' (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda."

To be sure, the MSM - best exemplified by CNN - ran with this interpretation for all they were worth. But to say that "Saddam's Iraq" and al Qaeda were not linked in overarching purpose (the report describing it as wanting the West "out of Muslim lands") is to say that the Secretariats of Defense and the Interior are unlinked, even as they labor to uphold the same Constitution. It also bespeaks a refractoriness to the historical record.
While Hussein's vision of the Middle East as a pan-Arab state under his dominion was more modest than that of the Islamic caliphate espoused by Osama bin Laden, the report notes that Hussein "supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda... or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives." It also indicates that he "found common cause with terrorist groups who drew their inspiration from radical Islam," as evidenced by the regime's cooperation with both Abu Sayyaf and Hamas.

It would seem that this alone would be more than enough for our "allies" in Europe to have been more supportive of the invasion. But Saddam's outrages against civilization extend to
the use of top graduates of the Fedayeen Saddam training classes "for assignment to London, from there to be ready to conduct combat operations anywhere in Europe," such operations surely to include so-called "martyrdom" attacks. Hussein also maintained direct ties with groups such as Fatah, Force 17 and Egyptian Islamic Jihad (a predecessor to the current incarnation of al Qaeda.) Documents from the 1990s captured during current military operations indicate that the regime was also training Sudanese fighters inside Iraq.

How this accumulation is worthy of anything other than reprehension escapes me. Although this thought is hardly original, it occurs to me that people who are otherwise sober in their judgments of interactions between individuals completely take leave of their senses when evaluating the behavior of nations. My poker klatsch would hardly propose that a rape victim engage her attacker in order to understand the attacker's motivations, but they are quite ready to parley with an international rogue's gallery of thugs of more infamous reputation.

Such is of a piece with liberalism's essential nature. The depraved and criminally-intentioned of any stripe, and on any scale, are to be coddled as errant children in need of a hug, or at worst a "time-out." And no expedient is beyond the pale in defense of this type of imaginary thinking. So I am persuaded that for most on the Left - despite their education and life experiences - the longest distance between dogmatically held fiction and objective reality is the space between their ears.

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