Battlepanda: I'm not buying either


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I'm not buying either

Matt Yglesias says it quite simply:

There's no need for hard thinking precisely because this isn't a hard question. Of course newspapers should have the legal right to publish cartoons that offend some people. Of course the people offended by the resulting cartoons shouldn't start throwing around threats of violence to intimidate people. But what does this have to do with "the foreign policies of Bush and Blair" or the need for "very hard thinking" on the left?

How about nothing?

The problem with the foreign policies of Bush and Blair, by which I take it we mean the Iraq War, is twofold. One, the nature of the threat from the Iraqi regime was neither so large nor so acute as to make invading and occupying Iraq a reasonable method of enhancing American national security. Two, invading, conquering, occupying, and reconstructing medium-sized multi-ethnic polities ruled by long-entrenched dictators is neither an effective method of spreading liberal democracy nor an effective method of achieving humanitarian goals.

So to recap: Killing people or threatening to kill people over cartoons is wrong. Invading Iraq was a bad idea. That's what I thought before this cartoon mess broke out, and it's what I still think today. There's nothing to rethink.

I've spilled my fair share of pixels over this cartoon controversy. But my basic stance is the same as Matt's. Those who are treating this most recent round as some sort of glove slap across the face that signals pistols-at-dawn duel of the civilizations have got to be fucking kidding me. Have they not being paying attention for the last few years or decades or whatever? If you truly wanted a final reckoning with two columns, one side for "bad shit we did to them" and the other for "bad shit they did to us", the lists would be long, and probably much longer on our side of the ledger than on their's. Would it be better for everyone concerned if the Muslim world just let bygones be bygones and just chill out? Most assuredly. But can you imagine us letting bygones be bygones given a similar history of conflict? I don't think so.

Extremists on both sides are trying to sell the war of civilizations Kool Aid. We shouldn't buy it because it isn't a scenario with any good outcomes.