Although I admit to having given my vote last fall to Rick Santorum in his unsuccessful campaign to hold on to his U.S. Senate seat, I have been appalled by his recent harping on the menace of “Islamofascism.” Santorum has lent himself to a largely neoconservative-funded campaign, headed by journalist David Horowitz and Washington lobbyist Frank Gaffney, to make us aware, in Horowitz’s words, that “Islamofascism is the greatest danger America has ever faced.”
The fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War was marked by a deluge of retrospective commentary, much of it focused on the past: how we got into this conflict and how it has been conducted. Fine, it is always appropriate to assess lessons learned. But why and how we got into Iraq and what choices could have been made differently are not central to when and how we get out. Washington loves to exaggerate differences in nuance into appearing as major and substantive differences””My opponent sees six eggs, but I say there are half a dozen””but the difference between the McCain and Obama positions is largely one of emphasis rather than degree. Language in one may appeal to neoconservatives, in the other appear to concede to liberal sentiments, but when one puts campaign rhetoric aside, the fundamentals are largely the same. The Iraq “debate” now largely recycles the same ground, and given these parameters, it is not surprising that there is not much creative thinking among Washington politicians about what to do next in Iraq. We will continue to meander in Iraq”and continue to bleed in terms of lives and treasure”until we have a serious debate, not about the Iraq we would like to see, but the Iraq we are prepared to live with.
Commenting in a new book on Abraham Lincoln, former president Jimmy Carter observed “(Lincoln) ignores the fact that the tragic combat might have been avoided altogether, and that the leaders of both sides, overwhelmingly Christian, were violating a basic premise of their belief as followers of the Prince of Peace.”
Neoconservative Ira Stoll, wrote of Carter’s criticism of Lincoln in the New York Daily News this week “How much patience should Lincoln have had with the immoral institution? How many more lashes should have fallen on the backs of American blacks during Carter’s hypothetical waiting period for slavery to terminate “peacefully?”
Whereas men like Carter, a Navy veteran, dare to consider the moral complexities, political intricacies and human cost of war, neoconservatives “ most of whom have never seen a day of service “ always whittle such questions down to a childlike framework of “good vs. evil.” Stoll never brings up the fact that 600,000 men died in the War Between the States, which is the main point of Carter’s criticism. Likewise, when Iraq war critics bring up soldier deaths and casualties, neoconservatives always ignore them, instead declaring it all worth it to defeat the “evil” Saddam Hussein.
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