The Corner

Re: The Insurgency

From a longtime reader:

Thanks for at least giving us credit for not romanticizing the insurgency. But this is too much:

“[S]izable numbers of Bush-critics on the left and the right want them to win — or don’t care enough one way or another if they do or not.”

Look in your heart, to quote John Turturro in “Miller’s Crossing”: do you really think anyone of note on the left, even Michael Moore, _wants_ them to win? Read some lefty blogs, and you’ll hear again and again disgust that the likely outcomes of the Iraq war are government by an Islamist theocracy, or else civil war. These are what would happen if the insurgency won, and no liberal hopes for them. In fact, most of them actively want the insurgency to lose — the better to get American troops out of harm’s way. The important question for them, as for Bush’s critics on the right, is how many more American troops should die for the goal of defeating the insurgency. And as most of them opposed the war to begin with, they see every American death as especially pointless — “good money after bad,” if you’ll forgive the inappropriate phrase — and figure the best way forward is to cut our losses. If I try to mind-read Michael Moore, what I think he thinks is that even if pulling out American troops leads to chaos, it at least won’t be chaos that gets more of our people killed, and (here is the critical difference of opinion between NRO-style conservatives and “the Left”) since there is absolutely no way for us to defeat them anyway, the sooner the better.

I actually am grateful that you acknowledged that most leftists don’t romanticize the insurgency — given the level of the rhetoric out there these days, that’s progress.

Me: Without launching a long conversation I don’t have time for, I think I’ll just clarify that this is one of those times I was particularly careful to refer to the “left” instead of “liberals” because I think this is one of those times where there is a difference.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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