Already linked at Morning Report, but worth a post of its own, here's a selection from The Liberal Betrayal by Amir Taheri:
BEFORE the U.S.-led inter ventions in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, much of the Middle Eastern Left shared the views of its U.S. and European counterparts with regard to America.
"We looked to the Left in the West and imitated it," says Awad Nasir, one of Iraq's best-known poets and a life-long Communist. "We heard from the United States and Western Europe that being Left meant being anti-American. So we were anti-American. And then we saw Americans coming from the other side of the world to save us from Saddam Hussein - something that our leftist friends and the Soviet Union would never contemplate."
Mustafa Kazemi, spokesman for the new Afghan front, expresses similar sentiments. "Our nation is still facing the menace of obscurantism and terror from Taliban and al Qaeda," he says. "Thus, we are surprised when elements of the Left in the United States and Europe campaign for withdrawal so that our new democracy is left defenseless against its enemies."
IRAQ'S parties of the Left were shocked when the new So cialist government in Spain decided to withdraw from the U.S.-led coalition in 2004. "We had hoped that with a party of the Left in power in Madrid we would get more support against the Islamofascists, not a withdrawal," says Aziz al-Haj, the veteran Iraqi communist leader.
Tareq al-Hashemi, vice president of Iraq, has also gambled his impeccable progressive record on the success of the pluralist experiment in his country. "Our enemy is al Qaeda, not the United States," he says. ...
Go read it all, and then take a trip down memory lane with this article describing what happened when Iraqis tried to speak at an anti-war rally in 2003:
spent part of last Saturday with the so-called "antiwar" marchers in
London in the company of some Iraqi friends. Our aim had been to
persuade the organizers to let at least one Iraqi voice to be heard.
Soon, however, it became clear that the organizers were as anxious to
stifle the voice of the Iraqis in exile as was Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Iraqis had come with placards reading "Freedom for Iraq" and "American
rule, a hundred thousand times better than Takriti tyranny!"
the tough guys who supervised the march would have none of that. Only
official placards, manufactured in thousands and distributed among the
"spontaneous" marchers, were allowed. These read "Bush and Blair,
baby-killers," " Not in my name," "Freedom for Palestine" and "Indict
Bush and Sharon."
Not one placard demanded that Saddam should disarm to avoid war.
goons also confiscated photographs showing the tragedy of Halabja, the
Kurdish town where Saddam's forces gassed 5,000 people to death in
We managed to reach some of the stars of the show,
including Reverend Jesse Jackson, the self-styled champion of American
civil rights. One of our group, Salima Kazim, an Iraqi grandmother,
managed to attract the reverend's attention and told him how Saddam
Hussein had murdered her three sons because they had been dissidents in
the Ba'ath Party; and how one of her grandsons had died in the war
Saddam had launched against Kuwait in 1990.
"Could I have the microphone for one minute to tell the people about my life?" 78-year old Salima demanded.
The reverend was not pleased.
is not about Saddam Hussein," he snapped. "Today is about Bush and
Blair and the massacre they plan in Iraq." Salima had to beat a
retreat, with all of us following, as the reverend's gorillas closed in
to protect his holiness. ...
Go read the rest at the link. Now, putting it all together, here's Cinnamon Stillwell:
It's gotten to the point where one would be hard pressed to tell the difference lately between the foreign policy of so-called liberals and that of so-called realists. Both are in favor of the sort of isolationism that would leave dictators and theocratic regimes to their own devices, not to mention the oppressed people living under their thumbs. To the extent that engagement with these foreign powers is encouraged, it's in favor of meaningless negotiation in the craven hope that they can save their own skins in the process.
And let it be lesson to those who still don't understand why some of us no longer wish to associate ourselves with Western leftism. There's nothing "progressive" about it.
Liberals by nature are idealists. It is our blessing and our curse.
Here is Amir Taheri on liberalism, east and west.
In much of the Middle East, most notably Afghanistan and Iraq, the Left is part of these new alliances.
- In Iraq, two rival Communist parties, along with Social Democrats and other center-left groups, supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and continue to play a significant role in the new pluralist system. They are resolutely opposed to a premature withdrawal of American and allied forces, as demanded by the U.S. Congress.
- In Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party is at the heart of the democratic movement to against the Islamic Republic's attempt to dominate the country through its Hezbollah surrogates. The Lebanese democratic movement includes other parties of the Left, notably the Socialist Salvation Movement (Inqadh) and the Movement of the Democratic Left.
- In Iran, virtually the whole of the Left rejects President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's anti-Americanism and calls for normalization of ties with the United States. The recently created independent trade-union movement is emerging as a vocal challenger to Khomeinism.
Now here's Michael J. Totten on Iran's revolutionary liberals :
The Communists hosted us warmly and kindly gave us a tour of their camp. But the liberals who split with them in the late 1980s proved to be far and away their intellectual and political superiors.
(UPDATED TO CLARIFY: There are two
separate Iranian parties here who both call themselves Komala. One is
communist, the other is liberal. The people interviewed in this article
are the ex-communists. The people interviewed in the previous article
are still communists.)
Secretary General Abdullah Mohtadi and Political Bureau member Abu
Baker Modarresi sent two men to pick us up from our hotel – just to
make sure we made it to the right place. They drove us to their safe
house under armed guard less than an hour away from the Iranian border.
We met over coffee and cigarettes.
MJT: You are both from Iran?
Mohtadi: Yes, yes we are.
MJT: How long have you been here?
Mohtadi: The first time our headquarters came inside Iraqi
Kurdistan was in late 1983, when we lost the last liberated area in
Iranian Kurdistan. So we moved our headquarters to Iraqi Kurdistan at
that time, which was under Saddam Hussein. For some months they were
reluctant to accept us, but they realized, okay, we are against the
MJT: Did you ever have any problems with Saddam’s government?
Mohtadi: Yes. They shelled us. Also, we are the only Kurdish Iranian party that has been gassed by Saddam Hussein. ...
MJT: You had a split with the
Komalah Party down the road at some point. We know about that because,
as you know, we accidentally met them a few days ago instead of you.
Mohtadi: That Komalah Party was established as an underground
organization in 1969, under the Shah. We were a leftist organization.
It was the 60s and 70s. It was a struggle against the Shah, against
oppression, dictatorship, for social justice, and against…the United
States. Sorry. [Laughs.]
MJT: Well, that’s alright.
Lasswell: My father was working pretty vigorously against aspects of the United States at the same time.
Mohtadi: We were also inspired by the anti-war movement in the 70s.
MJT: We wouldn’t expect you to have any other position. You’re a leftist, so…
Mohtadi: Yeah, ok. So, members of Komalah were arrested
several times. Every other political dissident in Iran…there was no
political freedom, especially in the 1970s. A system of very harsh and
brutal torture was carried out in Iran, in the prisons. The
dictatorship intensified. The Shah paved the way for his overthrow.
So many organizations in Iran were crushed and disintegrated. Komalah was not. We survived. ...
Mohtadi: There were two different groups, religious and
secular leftist guerilla groups who were influential at that time.
People thought they were the way out of the dictatorship. Many many
intellectuals and students and political activists joined them. But we
wrote different pamphlets criticizing their methods. And that made us
people who had something, a kind of political theory for a movement.
MJT: What do you think of PJAK? [The Iranian wing of the Marxist-Leninist Kurdistan Worker’s Party, the PKK, from Turkey.] Are they the kind of people you just described? Or are they more…popular than that?
Mohtadi: No, no, no, they are not popular. They are part of the PKK. When they cross the border [from Turkey] they change their name.
The problem with the PKK…I mean, the Kurdish toilers have every right to fight for their rights and their freedom. But the PKK as
an organization is not reliable. They are very fanatic in their
nationalism. They are very undemocratic in nature. They have no
principles. I mean, they can deal with Satan. They can fight the Kurds. ...
Lasswell: The people down the road [referring to the estranged and unreconstructed Communist faction of the Komalah Party] said the PKK has a lot of money.
Mohtadi: They do.
MJT: Where do they get this money? Do they get it from these other regimes?
Mohtadi: The Kurdish-Turkish community in Europe is a huge
community, unlike the Iraqi Kurds who are a few thousand or tens of
thousands. They are millions. And they tax people. They impose taxes on
people, on every business that Kurds have in Europe. They cannot fail
MJT: So it’s basically a mafia now. In Europe.
Mohtadi: I think so, yes. Unfortunately, they are. They also
have bases on the border between Iran and Turkey. They help people
smuggle drugs and they tax them. It is a huge source of raising money.
PKK ideology is a mixture of Stalinism, Kurdish tribalism, patriarchalism.
MJT: I thought they were opposed to tribalism.
Mohtadi: They exploit the tribal culture. They have mobile
phones, walkie talkies, satellite stations, but I don’t consider them
to be a modern party in the real sense of the word. Like the mafia. The
mafia was modern in a sense, but they exploited the medieval culture
that was there in Italy, the family connections, the family loyalties.
The PKK did not start the struggle against
Turkey until they had eliminated other Kurdish groups and achieved a
monopoly of the Kurdish movement. ...
MJT: If I describe you as social democrats, is that accurate?
Modarresi: We won’t be angry. [Laughs.]
Mohtadi: We haven’t decided to take that name or not. But we
are for democratic values. We are for political freedoms, religious
freedoms, secularism, pluralism, federalism, equality of men and women,
Kurdish rights, social justice. We are for a good labor law, labor
unions. There is an element of the left in our political program.
MJT: You sound like the mainstream left.
Mohtadi: But as a leftist and as a Kurd I thought the left
discredited itself by associating itself with Saddam Hussein and with
the political Islamist groups. The left, the genuine left, should have
been the real defenders of democracy, of political rights, of political
freedoms, of overthrowing dictators, no matter if the United States
government is or is not against them.
Liberals, being idealists by temperament, wish for a day when war will be abolished. This wish is noble in itself, but is not the basis for a sound defense policy. Albert Einstein's famous quote, "You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war," is factually wrong and was proved so by the effectiveness of deterrence in the Cold War.
But still there persists a wish to do away with warfare, or at least to make it disappear.
The Democrats' obsession with "special forces" as a military cure-all, as described in this Michael Fumento's Weekly Standard article on the Democrats' Special Forces fetish, is an example of this kind of wishful thinking. In this view, America's Special Forces troops are X-Men. They are superheroes with magical powers. They can overcome evil without the messiness of regular warfare. And best of all, they operate in secret - hey, that's what makes 'em special! - so the rest of us don't have to know too much about what they are doing. Pelosi's New Direction for America promises on page 10 to "double the size of our Special Forces".
If you like SOF, you love the SEALs. They are the stuff of legend, and I'm proud to be among the few journalists to have been with them in combat in Iraq, thereby allowing me to say with firsthand experience that the legend is deserved. They truly fight like machines. So we want a lot more SEALs, right? Ideally, yes. But Special Operations Command is already "mandated to create two entirely new SEAL Teams by 2010," notes 14-year SEAL veteran Matthew Heidt (who blogs as "Froggy" at www.blackfive.net). Attrition in the would-be SEALs' first round of training, the BUD/S course, "is 70 percent or more," according to Heidt, and even to man the two new authorized teams by 2010 "will be difficult . . . unless training standards are radically lowered."
Capt. Larry Bailey, a SEAL for 27 years, vouches for the difficulty of expanding the teams. He's best known for tirelessly exposing men who fraudulently claim to have been SEALs (of which there is a virtual epidemic). But he commanded the BUD/S School at Coronado, Calif., for three years in the 1980s. He was given a mandate to graduate more SEALs without lowering the quality and did so temporarily. Nevertheless, "the Naval Special Warfare Center, which runs BUD/S, has been for years doing everything it can, short of lowering standards, to increase the number of graduates from this most difficult course," he told me. "There are just so many souls that can withstand that stress."
Go to www.navyseals.com and click on "training" and you'll wonder that even 30 percent survive. "Doubling the size is impossible," Bailey told me. "But there's something about special ops that appeals more to Democrats than GOP," he added. "There's almost like there's a craving to be accepted by real men. I don't know any liberal Democrat who doesn't like special ops."
Expanding other units will prove more doable because their attrition rates are lower. But few if any Special Operations Forces units could be doubled, much less the overall force. "Doubling SOF is a joke," says Heidt.
Utopianism is a form of perfectionism. In the perfectionist or utopianist mindset, only two conditions exist: perfect and not-perfect. In this view, whatever is "perfect" has no faults, and whatever is "imperfect" has no value.