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Sullivan on Blair's Speech

From Andrew Sullivan today:

This is what the carpers and nay-sayers still don't understand. The West is at war with a real and uniquely dangerous enemy.

I do understand this. The United States and the rest of the West is, indeed, at war with a real and uniquely dangerous enemy.

When the consequences of negligence become catastrophic, the equation of intervention changes.

I agree with this, too.

The burden of proof must be on those who counsel inaction rather than on those who urge an offensive, proactive battle.

Here is where I start to lose Sullivan. The burden of proof is on us all, not just those who, in his words "counsel inaction."

In this battle, we are the good guys. More to the point, we should always be confident that we are the good guys.

And, who counseled *inaction*? To take Iraq as an example, there were those who supported a continuation of sanctions and, if they didn't work, only then take military action. That's not "proactive," but it's not inaction.

Does it matter one iota, for example, if we find merely an apparatus and extensive program for building WMDs in Iraq rather than actual weapons?

Yeah, it does matter. If we're told that there were a bizzillon gallons of chemical weapons and then there aren't, then it does matter. In this war, as in any war, we need to be able to trust our leaders.

Or rather: given the uncertain nature of even the best intelligence, should we castigate our leaders for over-reacting to a threat or minimizing it?

I think the question of the day lies (pun intended?) within this sentence. Was it our best intelligence?

Follow-up questions are:

If it was, why was it so bad?

If it was not, why not?

Another questions are: if there are serious consequences because our leaders over-reacted, should we castigate them then? Or should we remain silent?

[Aside: Andrew Sullivan loved castigating President Clinton because the President had an affair with a member of his staff. Sullivan loves castigating Howell Raines and the New York Times because of problems at the paper. He has a thing for castigating. This situation is much more serious. Why is, on this topic, he adverse to castigation? Even if it's by people who disagree with him?]

Since 9/11, my answer is pretty categorical. Blair and Bush passed the test. They still do.

The war is still being fought. The test is still being administered.


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Comments (1)

The test is rigged, Partha. Under Sullivan's worldview, as long as Bush declared war on somebody, he would have passed the test, and those of us who would object would be counselors of inaction.

As long as the logic is that as a result of 9/11 we get to wage war against any nation which is anti-American and also has a WMD program, Bush could have chosen China, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Russia, North Korea, and probably several African countries, like Sudan, and you and I would be considered fools for objecting. We would be considered anti-American for arguing that if we had to wage war as a result of 9/11-like threats, it would make more strategic sense to attack North Korea, China, Iran or Pakistan for their actual proliferation policies and/or close relationship with terrorists.

People like Sullivan would have backed Bush no matter whom he attacked, as long as he attacked someone. That was the test. Whether he waged war, not against whom he waged it.


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