Mea culpa of the militant liberal

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Michael Ignatieff retracts his war cry.

This weekendâe(TM)s New York Times Magazine featured an article by the former Harvard liberal âe" and now Canadian politician âe" Michael Ignatieff. Titled, âeoeGetting Iraq Wrong: What the War Has Taught Me About Political Judgment,âe Ignatieff offers a breezy mea culpa for his earnest support of the overthrow of Saddam in the earliest days of the Bush administrationâe(TM)s campaign for regime change.

But if the title infers a deep sense of regret over the use of his A-list liberal pulpit to spur on the lefty war cause, the substance of the article betrays a different motive altogether. Last year, Ignatieff lost in his bid to become leader of Canadaâe(TM)s Liberal party, due in part to his strident support of the Iraq war. So this is a bit of well-positioned damage control that ends up coming off more as naïve self-pity than anything authentically remorseful. The problem, it seems, had less to do with him than the political spotlight which robbed his war-cry of the nuance and half-meanings it was embedded with.

Halfway into the essay, Ignatieff explains that âeoeamong friends and family, we also cut one another some slack. We fill in one anotherâe(TM)s sentences. What we mean matters more than what we say. No such mercies occur in politics. In public life, language is a weapon of war and is deployed in conditions of radical distrust. All that matters is what you said, not what you meant. The political realm is a world of lunatic literalism. The slightest crack in your armor âe" between what you meant and what you said âe" can be pried open and the knife driven home.âe

Granted, public life reduces thoughtful discourse to lowest-common-denominator soundbites. But in Ignatieffâe(TM)s case, he simply cannot blame the glaring lights for the banalization of his complicated thinking. I know this because it was Ignatieff, and his public statements on Iraq, who launched me on an 18-month journey into the hearts and minds of the Vietnam-era liberals who betrayed the anti-war stance to support the surge into Iraq. That journey became a book, Wolves in Sheepâe(TM)s Clothing, and the following is an excerpt from that seminal night:



On a blustery fall evening, one month before the 2004 presidential election, I stood at a packed reception at the Overseas Press Club in New York. The crowd was diverse. Young college students mingled with greyer, tweed-jacketed types. In the corner, I saw an elderly man in a wheelchair being helped into an elevator so that he could get an advance seat for the show.

Weâe(TM)d gathered to hear a discussion between Paul Berman and Michael Ignatieff, two leading liberal intellectuals. The subject: how the War on Terrorism was impacting liberal society. Berman, a journeyman writer of the New Left generation that came of age during the glory days of 60s era student activism, was undoubtedly the star of the event. His latest book, a slim polemic titled Terror and Liberalism, quickly emerged as the bible for liberal hawks who were conflicted over the election of George Bush but supported his brisk military response to 9/11. Recounting the history of radical Muslim icon Sayyid Qutb, a leader of Egyptâe(TM)s Muslim Brotherhood who was hanged in 1966, Berman depicts the Islamist philosophy as one directly borne out of a reaction to liberalism. Qutb had studied in the West and come to realize that the most evil aspect of American society was the separation of Church and State; a toxic virus of sacrilegious secularism that would eventually penetrate and destroy Islam. Moreover, he saw European imperialism and American foreign policy as extensions of the Crusades. Thus, for Qutb, the jihad was defensive. It was the only viable response to the insidious creeping influence of Western culture and ideas, and the all-reaching hand of the exploitative free market. Qutb declared a theological war against liberalism itself, one that found its ultimate heroes in Osama bin Laden and the 19 suicidal hijackers of September 11.

Given the ferocious nihilism of the terrorists and their jihadi creed, Berman invokes the spirit of the great emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, who warned that a liberal society would have to be warlike in order to endure the challenges of its enemies. Berman calls for a multi-front campaign against the Islamists and chides George Bush for focusing the worldâe(TM)s anger and fear on Osama bin Laden, giving the false impression that âeoeour enemy was merely a single person, or a band of desperadoes, and not anything larger.âe Because the enemy is, he warns, much larger. It is, according to Berman, a totalitarian death cult that has its roots in the âeoeapocalyptic and phantasmogorical movements that have risen up against liberal civilization ever since the calamities of the First World War.âe This is powerful stuff and you can see why Berman, who watched the smoldering World Trade towers from his Brooklyn apartment, surfed the zeitgeist of the post-9/11 reactionary moment. Imbued in all of his writing is an unmistakable sense of fear; a realization that the War on Terror has nothing to do with left or right, it is simply a battle for the survival of liberal civilization. And that this is a time that demands us to shelve some of the most sanctified elements of the optimistic liberal outlook on human nature. Reminding us that, in the past, âeoeforward-thinking and well-educated people with the most generous of ideals sometimes found it hard in those days to believe that Nazis and Stalinists were as bad as they seemed,âe Berman calls on his fellow leftists to see evil for what it is and embrace the coming fight. Citing the anti-fascist ethos that had once galvanized the New Left in the sixties, he urges a unified front to back a liberal revolution in the Middle East, one that will birth freedom âeoein places where the worst of the totalitarian plague had wreaked its damage.âe


Michael Ignatieff

Suffice it to say, Berman âe" once a staff writer at the Village Voice and an esteemed contributor to Mother Jones âe" became instantly popular with conservatives. But not only them. His book was also tailor-made for the new pro-war left who needed something more coherent and articulate than George Bush but less belligerent and pugilistic than Christopher Hitchens. As a result, Terror and Liberalism was a hit, riding the bestseller lists for several weeks and inspiring heated debate amongst readers across the world.

But not everyone was a fan. Lending his well-established liberal cred to the war effort rankled those on the left who felt he was giving unwarranted sanction to the neo-conservatives who only touted liberal values as a superficial front for their acquisitive foreign policy objectives. Others accused Berman, who is a Zionist and made the inherent anti-Semitism of the Islamists a centerpiece of Terror and Liberalism, of latent neo-conservatism himself. In the Introduction to the soft cover edition, Berman challenges those who had begun to question his ideological leanings. To his readers, some of whom still clung to the archaic template of political identities and demanded to know whether his views should be considered left-wing or right-wing, Berman responds, âeoethe question dismays me. I mean, what difference should it make?âe âe In the new paradigm of endless war, he implied, echoing the words of George Bush, you are either with the free world or against it.*

Mingling with some of the other audience members in the reception hall at the Press Club, I quickly discovered that a few of them were Canadian and, despite Bermanâe(TM)s high profile, were here to see their fellow countryman Michael Ignatieff âeoerub one on the nose of the pro-war crowd,âe as one ostentatiously bejeweled woman told me. Her remark was surprising. Though Ignatieff, a professor at Harvard, had emerged as one of Americaâe(TM)s leading liberal ethicists and champions of rights-based society, he had been as openly pro-war as Paul Berman. In fact, it was Ignatieff, writing in The Guardian on the one-month anniversary of 9/11, who first defined the terrorists as âeoeapocalyptic nihilistsâe and compared them to European fascists, arguments that later became pillars of Bermanâe(TM)s Terror and Liberalism. And while most liberals were still grappling with the significance of the attacks and how they should respond to Bushâe(TM)s vengeful militancy, on October 1, 2001, Ignatieff was clear: âeoeSince the politics of reason cannot defeat apocalyptic nihilism, we must fight. Force is legitimate to the degree that it is discriminate, and to the degree that it is discriminate, it is just.âe

Just as I began to clarify Ignatieffâe(TM)s position, we were suddenly interrupted by the five-minute warning. The sparkling woman excused herself, explaining that she wanted to get a good seat. Watching her move cat-like through the crowd, it struck me that many of the people here probably held similar false conceptions that Ignatieff was anti-war and they were here to see a debate. For most Canadians, it is a default position, so why wouldnâe(TM)t one of their leading lights bolster the conventional wisdom? But Ignatieff was careful to isolate himself from the critics of American foreign policy who imputed sympathetic justifications to the terrorist attacks, writing âeoeit is an adolescent fantasy to assign the injustice of the world to a single address.âe Yet he was not so judicious with his alliance to other, equally fantastic claims. A year after 9/11, Ignatieff cautiously pushed the Bush administrationâe(TM)s Saddam-Osama hypothesis in the Financial Times, cloaking it in a reasonable-sounding deliberation over âeoehow much assistance terror receives from rejectionist states, chief among them Saddam Hussein's Iraq.âe


When the time came for war, however, Ignatieffâe(TM)s measured uncertainty was replaced with hesitant acquiescence. Sounding like a man severely compromised by the pressure Americans were foisting on prominent liberal academics, he described his position as a surrender to âeoethe least bad of the available options.âe And one year after the invasion, Ignatieff confessed to be a âeoereluctant yet convinced supporterâe of the war. Hardly the full-throated support that other pro-war liberals like Paul Berman had mustered by that time.** But Ignatieff was mining a theme that would become central to his thinking throughout the post-9/11 period. In each successive article and public speech since his original backing of Bushâe(TM)s military response to 9/11, Ignatieff had increasingly portrayed himself as a philosophic yet embattled participant in the national dialogue; a deep-thinking intellectual, troubled by the dirty prospects of war on terror but conscious of the need for America to defend itself. As a champion of civil liberties, Ignatieff soon found that he had been forced into the difficult position of trafficking in what he termed âeoelesser evilsâe : the recognition that defeating terror may not only require violence, but also coercion, deception, secrecy, and violation of rights. How would a liberal society maintain its standards when its enemies had none, he asked. It is a question that ultimately became the thesis for his own book, The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in the Age of Terror, and which formed the inspiration for our gathering at the Press Club that night.

Hanging back as the crowd funneled into the small staircase, I thumbed through my copy of Ignatieffâe(TM)s The Lesser Evil. Thick double blue lines connected his text to my own notes, scribbled in the margins, highlighting the major thrusts of his argument. Unlike Bermanâe(TM)s bossy polemic, Ignatieffâe(TM)s is a soul-searching meditation on the kind of responses we should expect, and permit, from a liberal society that is threatened by terrorism. A passionate advocate of ethics and civil rights, Ignatieff reminds us that the value of our modern liberal democracy lies beyond its respect for institutional procedure and civil rights. Rather, what makes us unique in the world is the premium we place on each individual human life and the extent to which we will create laws to protect and preserve them. At least, in theory. In reality, Ignatieff observes a troubling shallowness among average Americans when it comes to the discussion of protecting the civil liberties of terrorists. Where liberal intellectuals regard these rights as non-negotiable, the mass populace and their governmental leaders have remorselessly placed them on the block, effectively trading civil rights for national security and reverting to the old caveat of authoritarian regimes that in a state of emergency there are no sacred cows, only golden calves and paper tigers, ready to be sacrificed and immolated at the first sign of trouble.

Yet Ignatieff is a realist. He understands that in cases where the threat is inarguably dire, the democratic state must engage in his titular âeoelesser evilsâe âe" preventative or investigative detention, intensive interrogation, torture, targeted killing, and even pre-emptive military strikes. At any time, these may represent a nationâe(TM)s first line of last defense. But, Ignatieff writes, the pursuit of these tactics is always an exercise in âeoemoral risk.âe And this is where he differs from Paul Berman. Where Bermanâe(TM)s take-no-prisoners battle cry comes from a very real fear of the annihilation of liberal society, Ignatieff, though not ruling it out, warns that America stands to lose its soul even as it defends its borders. The demands of a life-or-death struggle, he argues, could reduce democratic society to one that mirrors that of the terrorists; in which violence becomes âeoean end in itself.âe Moreover, fighting an enemy that has no respect for the Geneva conventions, nor the basic tenets of liberal society, poses great challenges to the constitutional republic which is inherently constricted by the laws of its civil code. There are certain things the liberal democratic state cannot do without sacrificing its claim to liberal democracy. So itâe(TM)s not a fair fight, and the terrorists know this. Hence, their strategy is less dependent on military conquest than psychological torment. They wage a patient and spectacularly horrific guerrilla war, designed to force the democrats into committing illiberal acts that ultimately, Ignatieff writes, âeoeerode the moral identity of the state, together with its will to resist.âe And in this way, the terrorists will not have to win the war in order to defeat liberal democracy because the foundation of the society would already have been destroyed. This is the dark side of the War on Terror; one that could ultimately entrap Americans in a downward spiral that would leave nothing of their once sacrosanct rights-based liberal system.***

Walking into the jammed lecture hall, I took the last seat in the second row reserved for press. Despite the negative impact of television on the popularity of public discussions, I was not surprised to see such a large crowd. Michael Ignatieff and Paul Berman are two of Americaâe(TM)s most respected liberal intellectuals. Both have written persuasive and provocative books, each identifying a major crisis being faced by American liberal democracy. Scanning the earnest faces, waiting patiently for the intellectuals to make their appearance, I wondered which one is of greater concern to the people gathered here: the internal conflict described by Ignatieff or the external threat posited by Berman? I knew that in the marketplace of ideas it is books like Bermanâe(TM)s Terror and Liberalism, with its stern warning that a people who underestimate the Islamists could find themselves extinct, which resonate with the buyers. Americans have proven to respond well to fear, and Berman has expertly peddled vigilant dread. Ignatieffâe(TM)s Lesser Evil, on the other hand, offers a sobering reflection on the weakened stature of modern liberalism, showing that it has as much to lose in its reaction to terrorism than to terrorism itself. But fear, he warns, is the means with which terrorism seeks to undermine democracy. âeoeA people living in fear are not free,âe he wrote in The Lesser Evil, causing me to wonder what state he imagined Americans were living under, if it was not one of fear. In any case, his was a message that, if it was indeed true, would be the last thing a terrorized public would want to read. Which is exactly why I had come out to see him tonight.

All heads turned as the two men entered the room. Had I not seen the photographs on their respective book jackets, I would have confused them. Berman, the nervy dragon-slayer, is diminutive and bookish while Ignatieff, the judicious worrier, resembles a former college quarterback. Perhaps relieved to see his relative size, the Canadians gave Ignatieff a slightly louder applause. But any hopes their man would intimidate Berman and emerge as the champion of pacifism were quickly dashed. Instead, he opened with a soft rebuke to the anti-war movement, which he condescendingly described as âeoeotherwise well-meaning people protesting against the overthrow of a homicidal, genocidal, maniacal dictator.âe Beside him, Berman nodded approvingly. I felt the audience titter. Ignatieff continued, raising the issue of Abu Ghraib. The crowd nodded in unison at the scandalous mark against the invasion. But, again, Ignatieff swerved away from any flat-out condemnation of the American campaign. He described the revelations of torture as a âeoecatastrophic geo-strategic defeat,âe limiting it to the context of a major PR disaster. Further, he warned, despite the controversy Americans would need to avoid any kind of âeoemoral perfectionismâe that would hinder the war on terror. Behind me, a woman sighed. I felt warm air on the back of my neck.

Peering sullenly at the audience through wire-framed spectacles, Berman grabbed the baton from Ignatieff. He too believed that the war was being lost on the intellectual front. But while Abu Ghraib was the current hot-button issue, Berman located the problem in how the administration presented the war to the American public. Bush, he explained, failed to prepare them for a long-term struggle and now that it had dragged on, returning a high number American casualties, public opinion had soured. Worse, he continued, in all the Pentagonâe(TM)s bungling, the essential message âe" that America offers the world a model of liberal society, equal and just, while the Islamists have nothing to counter it with âe" had been lost. Instead, all eyes and ears are focused on the crimes of America, which has lost a great deal of ground with those millions of people who could have been brought to our side.

Like much of the audience, I wanted to witness the clash of two intellectual titans who see vastly different dangers looming in Americaâe(TM)s war on terror. But it never came. Perhaps under some tacit agreement, the men steered away from points of contention in favor of pressing the case that wartime necessarily places strains and poses challenges to liberal democracy. They never questioned the primary forces that drove America into Iraq, only the failures of the Bush administration in making its case to the public. They shirked any truly radical desire to get to the root of the conflict between Islam and the West, beyond the narrative we have been given by the White House and mainstream press. In this way, they came off more as apologists for the war and its ill effects than incisive political scientists charged with the responsibility of exploring every angle.

I kept waiting for Ignatieff and Berman to jump through the mirror and look at the Iraq war from the outside in. But they never did. Even though it has been one of the major contentions of the anti-war crowd, not once did they openly consider that the prosecution of the war may be linked to the same economic factors that so many in the anti-war left have asserted. As pro-war liberal academics, it simply wasnâe(TM)t part of their lexicon. They limited their focus to the threat that terrorism, and Americaâe(TM)s response to it, pose to liberal society. And in this way, themselves became the biggest threat to American liberalism. Not only because they failed to include in their analysis the very real potential that America has reached a point of economic vulnerability that its leaders will twist facts and manipulate fears until they produce the necessary political and military outcome. But because they failed to read the more tangible clues to the true intent of the war. Listening to Ignatieffâe(TM)s lament of the torture at Abu Ghraib, I was astonished that he made the lazy case of compartmentalizing it from the war, isolating it from the character of the invasion. It seemed obvious to me that Abu Ghraib was a direct product of the unilateral spirit of the war, indicative of just how little regard its planners held for the Iraqiâe(TM)s lives and future. I ached to put up my hand and challenge him, but the discussion droned on without any sign from either man that they were interested in what the audience had to say.

Instead I scribbled notes and stole furtive looks at the crowd, who had woken from their glassy-eyed resignation and suddenly perked up. Berman was in his element, speaking in graven tones about the fascistic nature of the bin Ladenite Islamicists who are the enemies of reason and little more than a glorified âeoedeath cult.âe It is his trademark slogan, one that crystallizes the violent nihilism of the suicide bombersâe(TM) jihad. It has the dual effect of evoking fear and manufacturing consent; his listeners canâe(TM)t help but be titillated by the terrifying image. Sensing this, Ignatieff played the good cop, rejoining with a hopeful realism. The West can survive the War on Terror, he explained, but âeoewe have to be very, very tough.âe In the end, the solution must be political, and for that reason we cannot back out until liberal democracy has been delivered to the Iraqi people. Then, he declared without the slightest hint of irony, âeoeI can think of no more noble a sacrifice than for US soldiers to die defending an Iraqi polling station.âe

Initially, I just processed the sentence, jotting it down on my pad. But then I noticed the words a line above, scrawled in menacing letters, âeoedeath cultâe and it all fell into place. Ignatieffâe(TM)s simple words âe" âeoeI can think of no more noble a sacrifice than for US soldiers to die defending an Iraqi polling stationâe âe" were a wonderful sentiment, on the surface. But that is just the point. Itâe(TM)s only once the words are scraped with a blunter edge that their true significance can be uncovered. If al Qaeda represents a death cult for Islamicism, then highly influential and well-placed liberals like Ignatieff, many of whom originated in the New Left that emerged from the anti-Vietnam movement, have become part of a death cult for democracy. At first it sounds silly to say. Of course we are willing to sacrifice everything for our liberal system: soldiers have always died for democracy and freedom. Itâe(TM)s what free persons are naturally drawn to fight for.

But now look deeper. This has always been the rationale presented by politicians seeking public support for their military interventions. We fight to protect the free world from fascism. It was the same in 1961. But in those days, it was Berman and Ignatieffâe(TM)s generation that got famous for protesting a war their parents started. For exhibiting what became their defining trait, a critical skepticism of the stateâe(TM)s motives to wage unilateral, unprovoked campaigns. In their prime, they had always viewed the stateâe(TM)s military interventions through a proto-Marxist economic lens. But now, paralyzed by the mortal fear of annihilation, they have abandoned that questioning impulse to become highly influential supporters of a military enterprise that has cost thousands of innocent Iraqi lives. Not to mention the ever increasing number of America soldiers wounded and injured in the guerrilla war. The same boys and girls Michael Ignatieff has just offered to the to the pyre as âeoenoble sacrifices.âeoe Exactly whoâe(TM)s child is Ignatieff âe" a Canadian letâe(TM)s remember âe" offering up in the name of an Iraqi democracy? One that may inevitably provide institutional consensus for a society built on Sharia law that contravenes the very core of his views as a social liberal. And, more importantly, just who does he think is out there fighting in Iraq anyway?

At least in the 1960âe(TM)s and 70âe(TM)s, there was a draft. As unpopular as it was, the lottery system offered the illusion of democratizing the act of service, of randomly selecting those who would die in the conflict. Today there is no such pretense.**** The young soldiers I met at the small âeoeforward operating bases in the Sunni Triangle, the front line of the War on Terror, were all volunteers. But the great majority of them had opted for National Guard or full enlistment out of a direct financial need. They were the poor and lower middle class kids who slipped through the safety net of Americaâe(TM)s failed liberal project, choosing military service as a one-way ticket out of the slum or trailer park. This precisely the kind of socio-economic pre-determination, a form of serfdom in itself, that the original liberal revolution was launched to destroy. That no person would be forced into any exploitive situation solely on the basis of class or race.

Now here was Michael Ignatieff, a professor at Harvard who has a 1/10 chance of ever teaching a kid whoâe(TM)s parents make less than $100,000, offering up their bodies as shields against car bombs. Ignatieff, who wants people to die for democracy, but has never once sought to impose a draft to make sure those who serve are not self-selected out of financial need. Who have only found themselves in the military because of the harsh economic realities of the very free market system that is now being imposed on the Iraqis. Does he not realize the insanity of this situation? That he has simply become another adult who has never fought in a war, and whose children will probably never fight in a war, sending other peopleâe(TM)s kids out to die for an ideological goal: the protection of liberal democracy which once promised to deliver the American dream, that has categorically failed in the United States. He has simply become everything his generation once fought against.

Or so I thought.

These are the words I wrote, hunched over my knees, leaning on the far edge of my chair. I barely noticed the talk had ended. I heard the audience asking questions, challenging the intellectualsâe(TM) blanket support of the war. One man asked if they had ever considered that it was simply about oil, Berman answered that while it may be an element of the strategic value of Iraq, it was never a driving force when placed next to the very real threat of liberal extinction. I kept writing. Moments later, they were gone and the room erupted into an agitated chorus of murmurs.

I finished my notes and walked out into the blustery October night. Warm wind blew on my face and I felt energized; a challenge had been set before me. Not to attack the brilliant minds of Berman and Ignatieff, that could only end in humiliating failure. Besides, I didnâe(TM)t feel anger or contempt for either of them. Rather, I saw them as members of a fascinating and unique social grouping who should be questioned and studied. For they are a part of that generation of Baby Boomers (those born between 1943 and 1961) who have dominated the political and social discourse in America since their voices began to change in the early 1960s. Conceived during the halcyon days following World War II when the prevailing sense of optimism got everyone in the mood, the Boomers have always represented the most populous generation in America. And now, as they have grown into the loosened skin and graying hair of middle age, they have begun to take on the same fearful, protective psychology as their parents. Naturally, there are many who still champion the virtues and values of their revolutionary youth. But for the most part, the generation who set the example for building mass movements and challenging entrenched, social, political and economic power have become part of that establishment themselves. After thirty years of accumulation, now they have something to lose. Even the liberals have become conservative.

In their prophetic book, The Fourth Turning, Neil Howe and Bill Strauss outline a system of 80-100 year cycles in which major, transformative crises, or turnings, occur every 20-25 years. Writing in 1997, Howe and Strauss predicted the fourth turning to come around 2005. It is one in which the Boomers will âeoeoccupy the upper echelons of worldly power through a likely Crisis Era that will not end until about 2020.âe Though they do not attempt to foretell the nature of the calamity, they offer terrorist attacks, domestic economic collapse, and plague as likely scenarios. On how we will survive it, they are more specific. The responsibility for shepherding America through the crisis, Howe and Strauss write, will be in the hands of the Baby Boomers and their own children, Generation X, who will be responsible for reigning in the more destructive tendencies of the adults; arrogant selfishness and a propensity for despotism among them.

As a member of that younger generation, the words I heard that evening suddenly crystallized the source of this great threat to our future. It is not the ideological conservatives like Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol âe" who have been so brazenly forthright about their global objectives âe" that worry me. No, it occurs to me that it is the quiet, respectful liberal academics like Michael Ignatieff and Paul Berman who present the most insidious danger. Because they come cloaked in the veil of humanitarian reformism and democratic activism, the proponents of a fair society. But underneath that flimsy fabric, they are just as much the members of an American elite as George Bush and Bill Kristol. And they have everything to lose when the United States finally begins the ugly tumble down from its imperial perch.

* A year after the Press Club event, Paul Berman published Power and the Idealists, a book about the generation of 1968 and their evolution toward state-sanctioned liberal interventionism. He is one of the most fascinating of all the pro-war liberals and I would have elaborated more here if he had not crossed my path later in the journey, ultimately granting me an interview and inspiring a more comprehensive discussion of his work.

** Even if Ignatieff sounded conflicted over his decision to back the war, he still defended the Bush administrationâe(TM)s case for it, vigorously dismissing claims that Americans had been misled by a fabricated case for WMD. Further, he assailed anti-war liberals who had presented, what he considered, a feeble argument against the invasion. âeoeIt didnâe(TM)t follow,âe he wrote in the Times, âeoethat America's guilty history made it wrong to go after Iraq. Good deeds are often done by people with bad histories.âe

***Ignatieffâe(TM)s reasoning demonstrated a strangely naïve faith in the governmentâe(TM)s respect for liberal values during military conflict. In the kind of zero-sum game that America had entered, Ignatieff warned, its leaders could be âeoedriven by the horror of terror to torture, to assassinate, to kill innocent civilians, all in the name of rights and democracy.âe Reading his words during the height of the Abu Ghraib scandal, when the unofficial number of civilian Iraqi deaths since the invasion was at 20,000, and after Americaâe(TM)s legacy of black ops and covert support of fascist dictators had long been a part of the public record, I couldnâe(TM)t help but feel that Ignatieff was living in an alternate reality. Of course, it may have been the case that he wrote the book before the revelations of torture and collateral damage became widely known, but I doubt he would seek shelter under that justification.

****As US Dept. of Defense Analyst Franklyn Spinney explained in Why We Fight, âeoeRight now, you have more of a separation between the military and, particularly, the middle class and the upper middle class in this country than you had even in the draft era. If you go back to Vietnam, basically the inequity of the draft helped prolong the war. As long as the poor and unrepresented were dying, people went along with it. We got out of Vietnam effectively when the lottery started and middle class kids were getting killed.âe


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