Thursday, August 18, 2005

Liberal Humanitarianism & Iraq

Rightwingsparkle poses one of the stupidest and most insulting questions I've ever seen on the blogs: Of liberals, she asks: Why is the suffering in Rwanda and Sudan so much more important to stop than the suffering of the Iraqi people? To make sure the issue is clear, she again states in her comments section: We wanted to know why the bleeding hearts care so much about the people of Sudan and not of Iraq.

Of course, she has created a strawman. Where is the mythical liberal that places greater value on African life than Iraqi life? To create such a beast, RWS's question relies on the simple minded misconception that support for Bush's war is the sole evidence by which one shows compassion for the people of Iraq.

The lack of logic is mind-bending when one considers that there is no equivalence to be drawn with Rwanda and Sudan because no liberals I'm aware of have advocated full scale invasions and occupations of those countries.

We liberals are not so simple minded. We do believe humanitarianism is an important element of foreign policy. An idea conservatives have loathed for decades and only now seem to be paying lip-service to upon the evaporation for their pre-war WMD rationale for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

We liberals analyze issues of humanitarianism quantitatively and qualitatively. Where can we have the greatest impact at the least cost. We understand that humanitarianism can be achieved by means other than full-scale invasion and occupation. We focus on effective means toward humanitarianism rather than means that can be spun to make certain political constituencies back home feel good or tough.

In Africa, we have called and will continue to call upon the Bush administration to take human rights issues seriously. The problems in numerous African countries can be, but aren't being, addressed through means that involve minimal commitments of troops and far less money and lives than are being expended in Iraq. The resulting saved lives would be, at least, in the tens of thousands, and possibly as high as millions.

None of the actions necessary to aid Africans require the commitment of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, the sacrifice of thousands of their lives as well as tens of thousands of civilian lives or the spending of hundreds of billions of US taxpayer dollars.

We liberals knew Iraq was different. Going back to the Eighties, we had chastised Saddam Hussein as a human rights abuser only to be poo-pooed by the right. When the slaughter of some 5,000 Kurds at Halabja occurred, the right claimed it was the Iranians. Yet, we liberals, after some excellent research by Human Rights Watch, said Saddam was to blame. The right only joined us when it became convenient politically to demonize Saddam.

We were the ones critical of Schwarkopff's decision to allow Saddam the use of his helicopters to crush the Shiite rebels in 1991. We supported the policy of containment with its no-fly zones and the eventual implementation of sanctions. Sanctions we were seeking to make "smarter" when 9/11 occurred. In fact, the containment policy was not only effective in preventing Saddam's WMD programs but also caused a significant decline in human rights violations. In 2001, extra-judicial killings were in the hundreds and, in 2002, reduced further to "scores."

As even a single abuse of human rights is unacceptable, it was important to keep the heat on Saddam. But the justification simply did not exist --- from a humanitarian standpoint --- for a full-scale invasion and occupation. If conservatives truly believed that standard, they would be pushing a long list of countries with repressive dictators for invaision. We liberals will continue to push to hold all responsible for trheir human rights abuses even if they're Bush buddies like Islam Karimov, Pervez Musharaff, the House of Saud, etc.

The money and effort spent on Iraq could have undoubtedly prevented much more death and suffering if it were focused on places like Niger, Sudan, the Congo, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan, just to name a few places.

The human rights catastrophe that has ensued is as bad, and probanbly worse, than existed under the latter day Saddam. Shiites and Kurds, as well as Sunnis, are engaged in syatematic human rights abuses right now. The government is moving toward an Islamic republic which will not be a democracy in the sense we know and will not provide the protections of minority rights we believe are moral. As one example, the new Iraqi government has been explicit in its desire to continue to discriminate against Jews by denying them any right of return or repatriation. As to women's rights, the new Iraq is undoubtedly worse.

This effort by Rightwingsparkle to create a phony moral equivalence is just the standard m.o. for many rightwing bloggers. Smear the left regardles of the facts.
Lets face it, there are those on the right that, if Jesus Criticized Bush, would be screaming about how Jesus once threw a tantrum in the temple.

In fact, her post reeks of projection. Why are righties so quick to dismiss human rights abuses everywhere in the world, including those being committed by our Iraqi allies, except for those committed in prewar Iraq and by Sunnis postwar?


  • McSwain: I have to give you a compliment where do. That article of yours showed an acute mind that had put some thought in this issue. Rolly

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:26 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home