The Corner

Liberal Bloggers Insist Political History Begins in 2001

Noted juicebox mafioso Matt Yglesias weighs in with this curious observation:

Jim Henley offers a provocative thought:

The United States government has always engaged in war crimes and human rights violations. What’s different this decade is that, under the leadership of a terrible president, our elites have become vociferous advocates of the goodness and rightness of war crimes and human rights violations.

There’s something to that. According to the perverse rules of our post-9/11 discourse, willingness to verbally endorse the idea of having other people torture strangers counts as a form of courageous “toughness” akin to, you know, actually doing something brave. And the rot has, I’m afraid, spread pretty far.

I won’t bother to persuade Yglesias and Henley that the Bush administration was a bit more complex than a bunch of elites sitting around discussing the previous evening’s episode of 24 as a how-to manual. However, I’m kind of stunned by what nonsense this is even under a liberal calculus.

Basically, in their view Government elites defending their involvement in any potential war crimes and/or human rights violations is new this decade under Bush. How myopic do you have to be to believe that?

So when FDR issued an executive order rounding up every Japanese person on the West Coast for internment, was that not advocated as a necessary wartime measure? And when Wilson railroaded the Sedition Act through congress, he didn’t make a case for it? When rendition began in the previous decade under Clinton, no rationale was given, right?

UPDATE from a reader:

There may be some truth to Yglesias & Henley’s hubris, but I think its the opposite of what they meant. While previous administrations took many actions that would surely be decried as “war crimes” if they had been done by GW Bush, I’m pretty sure they made little effort to advocate the need for such policies. They didn’t need to advocate them because most everyone took it for granted that such policies were necessary, or at least excusable. Those few who tried to complain could be ignored.

Or looked at another way, if you disagree with the Bush administration isn’t it a good thing that they’ve had to “vociferously advocate” their policies?

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