I was willing to gamble, too--partly, I suppose, because, in the era of the all-volunteer military, I wasn't gambling with my own life. And partly because I didn't think I was gambling many of my countrymen's. I had come of age in that surreal period between Panama and Afghanistan, when the United States won wars easily and those wars benefited the people on whose soil they were fought.To read Peter Beinart's latest mea culpa--the latest in a series notable for the increasing gaudiness of its contrition--is to behold a man possessed by a self-regard so absurdly and overly dramatic that I would call it operatic were it not so artless. Beinart began apologizing a couple of years ago with a zealous commitment to the basic precepts of his former wrongness: the old religious coviction that the miraculous is not a null set even in the total absence of miracles. But the unravelling in Iraq has shaken these principles also, and now Beinart positively moons with sentimentality, waxing poetic about South African exiles and Iraqi expatriates and every liberal's favorite failed intervention, the bombing of Kosovo. The paragraph excerpted above tells you all you need to know about our winsome know-nothing. He saw the first Gulf War on TV, and from it he formed a political philosophy. (I have seen an open heart surgery; I have never tried to get my cokehead friends to try to crack open a chest in service of my morbid fascination.)
"Why, exactly, did you support this war?" asked my wife. Her sister is an Army brigade surgeon at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, treating kids burned from head to toe. [...] Our toddler niece is in San Antonio, spending the year without a mom. I'll always consider [former Iraqi exile] Makiya a hero. But I haven't seen him, or read anything he's said or written, in several years. He's living, and suffering, with the consequences of this war, I suppose. And so are we.The "I suppose" betrays the unearned egoism at the rancid core of this fruit. It betrays a head swollen so grotesquely large that the eyes have been forced shut by the fat. It betrays the casual disinterest in human suffering that afflicts sociopaths.
On one hand, to live in this world is to innure oneself to the suffering of others. There will be wars, there will be disease, there will be repression, torture, poverty, crime, starvation, and the million other small miseries of man. Moreover, to advocate, as I do, a national posture of non-intervention is to disavow the capacity to do very much about such things, other than provide medicine or food or modest shelter where it is feasible, and trade and openness where minimal conditions of reciprocal openness are met. To do more, unfortunately, is to make worse: we have seen that play before, even if most of us haven't learned from it. But on the other hand, to understand that your advocacy helped enable the proximate, causative actions at the root of such suffering, and to flip that suffering away as equal to your own--to make the motherless toddler safe in a crib in America commensurate to a people now quite literally without a country--is to make so fundamental an error of scale that only one conclusion remains: it's intentional. That, friends, is the rubber on the fuckin' road. Peter Beinart believes that he can carve out exculpation by making his exquisite regret the equivalent of six hundred thousand deaths.