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The sense of triumph over their enemies dominates many leftist reactions to the withdrawal from Iraq. Notably, Jonathan Steele of the leftist British newspaper the Guardian, lets loose with a broadside at the “neocons,” while unabashedly crowing about being vindicated in his beliefs:
The final troop withdrawal marks a complete defeat for Bush’s Iraq project. The neocons’ grand plan to use the 2003 invasion to turn the country into a secure pro-western democracy and a garrison for US bases that could put pressure on Syria and Iran lies in tatters.
Their hopes of making Iraq a democratic model for the Middle East have been tipped on their head. The instability and bloodshed which the US unleashed in Iraq were the example that Arabs sought to avoid, not emulate. This year’s autonomous surge for democracy in Egypt and Tunisia has done far more to galvanise the region and undermine its dictatorships than anything the US did in Iraq.
The less said about Mr. Steele’s total misreading of what is going on in Egypt and Tunisia, the better. “Democracy” it surely isn’t. But the certainty with which Steele renders judgment that the first painful steps toward democracy in Iraq had nothing to do with what was happening elsewhere in the Middle East places the writer in the position of soothsayer, not analyst. It is obvious his own hatred of “neocons” has warped his analysis and he is projecting his prejudices onto events for which there is little understanding. Historical movements like we are witnessing in Arab countries today are usually the result of tidal forces that were unleashed years, perhaps decades ago. In short, Steele, and those like him who are all but gloating over the defeat of the “neocons,” are simply guessing. But their prognosticating is revealing — what is not known for sure is fleshed out by the fervent hope to see American interests defeated and the chance for democracy in the Middle East squashed.
For leftists like Glenn Greenwald writing at Salon.com, however, there is no guessing — just a snarling hatred for George Bush, Republicans, and all who oppose him:
I believe the country has not even gotten close to coming to terms with the magnitude of the national crime that was the attack on Iraq (I think that’s why we’re so eager to find pride and purpose in the ocean of Bad Guy corpses our military generates: tellingly, the only type of event that generates collective national celebrations these days). Needless to say, none of the responsible leaders for that attack have been punished; many continue to serve right this very minute in key positions (such as Vice President and Secretary of State); and (other than scapegoated Judy Miller) none of the media stars and think-tank “scholars” who cheered it on and enabled it have suffered an iota of stigma or loss of credibility. The aggressive war waged on Iraq began by virtue of a huge cloud of deceit and propaganda; perhaps it could end without that.
A mind so warped by hatred that it finds criminality where none exists would, ordinarily, cause the author of those words to be marginalized, and his writings dismissed as the rantings of a crackpot. But Greenwald is not alone in his continued insistence that Bush and his advisers be brought to justice at the International Criminal Court. And he is not some small-fry blogger preaching to an audience of a few dozen equally pathetic lefties. Glenn Greenwald is one of the most popular leftist bloggers in the country, writing for a large, well-respected (on the Left) website. To possess such bile for someone who has been out of office for three years is unnatural. But it serves to show that Bush Derangement Syndrome has a longer life than anyone could have imagined a few years ago.
Most of us would prefer to await history’s judgment on our actions in Iraq until all the cards have been played and the victors and vanquished chosen by events, not politics or personal prejudices. Iraq could have turned out to be something that none of us can currently imagine — it still may yet. To allow triumphalism and hate for one’s political opponents to shade our reading of current events and extrapolate a future from those variations with the dead certainty of the ideologically committed, is a destructive exercise. Destructive as well is the celebration of the strangling of democracy in a country that has known it for so short a time. Americans and Iraqis have sacrificed dearly for the vital gains that Obama now disgracefully plans to throw away, and Iran will be more than willing to make a treasure out of the president’s surrender — all to vindicate the defeatist philosophy of the radical Left and its democracy-hating cause.
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