It seems that during tonight’s debate, Mike Huckabee worried that were Hillary Clinton to become president we might not have “the courage and the will and the resolve to fight the greatest threat this country’s ever faced in Islamofascism.” The greatest threat we’ve ever faced! The astounding thing is that it’s barely astounding; at this point, that kind of wild overstatement has become totally banal GOP rhetoric on a par with the random paens to Ronald Reagan.
Katherine Seelye notes John McCain’s attacks on Mitt Romney: “Mr. McCain goes after down Mr. Romney. He first jabs at Mr. Romney’s line from the last debate that he would consult his lawyers before undertaking a military action. ‘Those are the last people I would call in,’ Mr. McCain said.” McCain is promising us, I guess, that in a McCain Administration military action will be undertaken without regard for the laws and constitution of the United States? How reassuring.
Heaven forbid we would show the sort of cruel indifference to the fate of the Iraqi people that might prevent us from continuing a military operation in which air strikes accidentally kill Iraqi toddlers and other civilians who “were people sleeping on roofs to seek relief from the heat and lack of electricity.”
Dick Cheney channels Bernard Lewis at the Washington Institute on Near East Policy:
Dr. Bernard Lewis explained the terrorists’ reasoning this way: “During the Cold War,” Dr. Lewis wrote, “two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: ‘What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?’” End quote.
I’ve heard this before, and always thought it was a good reason to decide that whatever the merits of Lewis’ academic scholarship, his political judgment is terrible. After all, the Soviet Union was (a) vicious and horrible, and (b) spectacularly unsuccessful. The United States, after all, won the Cold War. Why would you conclude that the United States ought to emulate the Soviet Union? Because our practices have failed to render the country 100 percent immune to terrorist violence? Even from a 9/12 vantage point, as bad as 9/11 was for the United States, the Soviet imperial adventure in Afghanistan was much worse for the Russians. But in keeping with this bizarre mentality, Lewis and his fans like Cheney went on to advocate an imperial adventure in Iraq that, like the Soviet policy initiatives they admire so much, has dealt a more severe blow to the United States than al-Qaeda ever would have been able to pull off on its own.
This is all via Greg Djerejian who aptly notes that “from this premise, use of torture and black-sites and detention without habeas corpus makes all the sense in the world, doesn’t it?”
Bill Gates raises a good point:
Obviously, since eliminating malaria doesn’t have the kind of humanitarian possibilities we associate with things like invading Iraq, you won’t see the kind of journalistic and intellectual mobilization behind this idea as we did around the “liberal hawk” movement. The difference, I suppose, is that fighting malaria neither has potential to make a writer feel tough nor does it seem very promising as a way to bash liberals and/or the UN. It’s too bad, though, because we really could save a lot of peoples’ lives.