Yesterday I wrote dismissively of the Anonymous Liberal, guest-blogging at Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory blog. The Liberal was kind enough to stop by and clarify in comments. Today, then, I'll say something nice. Again posting at Unclaimed Territory, A.L. writes:
Sullivan seems to acknowledge that the neocon plan is not working and may even be counterproductive, but he is unwilling to take the "anti-war" crowd seriously until they offer forth some alternative grand sweeping strategy for fighting terrorism.An excellent question. I'll try to answer in my way.
But what if there isn't one?
A.L. is posting at a serious blog, whereas I'm chucking cats into sanctuaries, in Mencken's inimitable phrase, and so A.L. treats Sullivan more kindly than I will. Andrew Sullivan is of that most despicable order of human beings: those who demand that society, government, and all civilization comport themselves specifically to compensate for Sullivan et al.'s personal fearfulness, cowardice, and inadequacy. Having neither the courage nor the intellect to look at the difficult world head on and admit to the fundamental precariousness of life; having neither the grace nor simple decency to admit that his terror-circumscribed life is infinitely less precarious than those people whose lives are destroyed not only by the end-stage blood-sport of monotheistic medievalism but also by the military policies which Sullivan himself advocates behind an unconvincing veneer of reasonableness; he expects that his timorous worldview, beset as it is by bogeymen, will be validated even as it proves inconsistent with reality, immature, and--let's not put too fine a face on it--plain wrong.
Where A.L. errs is in granting Sullivan his own self-serving premise: that what he wants is a "grand strategy." That's a euphemism. What Sullivan wants is a war.
What Sullivan wants is the West victorious, a conflagration fought on great battlefields with our heroes raising flags as they conquer capital after capital. What Sullivan wants is for the natives to cheer as we liberate them from the poverty of their backwardness. Civilize the savages! He is a brutish, bloodthirsty faggot who wraps his essential racism in colorful baubles of anti-homophobia and anti-misogyny, hoping no one notices the ugliness behind the decorations.
Sullivan won't take the anti-war crowd seriously because they won't consent to give him a war. He despairs of the current ruling crowd because they won't and can't give him the war he wants. The war he wants has no torture and no degredation, no abu Ghraibs, no rapes, no abiguous victories and petty defeats, no insurgencies, no protests. It begins and ends in a ticker-tape parade. It's a fantasy based on a fantasy of what the Second World War really was. It's the stuff of the imagination of adolescent boys. His glorious little war has been spoiled, but the nominal political opposition won't propose a new one. It's a war on terror, you damn liberals; get with the Sullivanian program!
The nattering of half-witted homosexuals on the electronic pages of Time, our mediocre nation's most mediocre magazine, is of small consequence ultimately, except insofar as it reflects the self-satiated conviction of virtually our entire culture that we are essentially in the right, and if our tactics are debased, that reflects merely upon our political leadership and can be remedied by "seriousness," or what have you. That's idiocy masquerading as analysis. The truth of the current conflict is more grave: We are in the wrong. That we describe our actions to ourselves as a response to "terrorism" only puts us in the long line of failed conquerers responding to their respective barbarians. That we were "attacked on 9/11" and then embarked on a self-described war against terrorism is entirely irrelevant. The War in Iraq, the failure in Afghanistan, the hall-of-mirrors domestic security measures, our global concentration camps (call them prisons if you must): these are not misguided tactics in a strategically defensible struggle. They are essential components of a policy of imperial war that neither advocates nor opponents of our Iraqi misadventure want to admit is imperial war.
Andrew Sullivan is a worm. But we are in a downpour, and the roads are covered with them.