Skip to comments.Edward Feser: The Mustache on the Left [about delusion that right-wingers are closet totalitarians]
Posted on 01/08/2004 5:19:28 AM PST by Tolik
click here to read article
Yet the case for the war in Iraq -- the focus (for the time being, anyway) of anti-Bush hysteria -- was, and remains, extremely straightforward and reasonable:
1. Saddam Hussein was required, as part of the treaty which ended the first Gulf War, to disarm himself of certain weapons, especially WMD, to remain so disarmed, and to agree to regular inspections intended to verify his compliance;
2. He repeatedly violated the terms of this treaty; so
3. The recommencement of hostilities was prima facie justified. (The question of the legitimacy of "pre-emptive" war is thus utterly irrelevant; the action against Iraq was no more "pre-emptive" than is the arrest of a convicted felon for violating the terms of his parole.)
Furthermore, whereas there may sometimes be good reasons for refraining from war even when it is justified, 4. The risk of Iraqi WMD someday being slipped to terrorists for use against the United States was, post-9/11, plausibly seen as significant enough that continued Iraqi non-compliance could no longer be tolerated. (The question of whether the threat was "imminent" is thus also irrelevant; and the threat was, of course, never claimed by the President to be imminent in the first place.)
Also counterbalancing any possible reasons for refraining from war were:
5. The fact that modern methods of war make possible to an unprecedented degree the avoidance of civilian deaths (though of course these can never be avoided entirely);
6. The liberation of the Iraqi people from a brutal dictatorship would, in the short and long runs, save more lives than would be lost in a military campaign and produce other obvious benefits for the Iraqi people as well;
7. The elimination of the Baathist regime would put the fear of God into the hearts of other dictatorships who might think to produce or use WMD (as it in fact has in the case of Libya -- though this has not stopped some anti-war types from denying the obvious);
8. It would eliminate an important source of funding and/or training for Palestinian and other terrorist groups; and
9. It would allow the United States finally to pull its forces out of Saudi Arabia, their presence being, however justifiable, a source of resentment within the Arab world and a rationalization for terrorism on the part of the likes of Osama bin Laden.
In short, there was by virtue of Hussein's non-compliance alone a defensible justification for war; and the other considerations served to override any reservations one could raise about whether the price for going to war, even if justified, might be too high. Nor does the endless nonsense about Bush having "lied" about WMD carry any conviction. For one thing, we don't yet fully know what in fact Hussein had or thought he had. More to the point, no one, including the intelligence services of governments opposed to the war, doubted before the war that he had WMD; and only a fool would have interpreted his years-long non-compliance with the inspections regime as implying anything other than that he had something to hide. Finally, it takes a Flat Earth Society-level of credulity to believe that not only Bush, but also Blair and dozens if not hundreds of their employees, would have risked political suicide and/or criminal prosecution to cover up their alleged knowledge that Iraq had in reality absolutely no WMD to speak of.
|Hey, I don't mean to be nosey...|
|... but I'd really like some bacon,
or some help for FR.
Given that the Soviet Union had been, during World War II, one of the enemies of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, Communists could pass themselves off as paradigmatic anti-fascists; and from there it was, for them, but a short step to concluding that any enemy of such paradigmatic anti-fascists must himself be a paradigmatic fascist.
The tendency of Nation-magazine style Leftists reliably to lapse into the fascist/right-winger comparison is in part a holdover from this hoary Communist tactic, a nervous tic that an old fellow-traveler can find it hard to lose even fifteen years after the collapse of the Evil Empire. What the comparison conveniently forgets is the alliance that existed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union before Hitler decided to betray Stalin, the Leftist dictator whose example had taught him so much about concentration camps and secret police. It forgets too the actual history of the development of fascist and National Socialist ideology, which had everything to do with developments in the socialist tradition in political thought, and absolutely nothing to do with the intellectual currents that gave rise to contemporary conservatism. But then, from Lenin and Stalin onward, the Left has been very good at airbrushing over any evidence of its true history, intellectual and otherwise.
It is a scandal that one has constantly to remind people of a fact that should be common knowledge: that Mussolini was for years a prominent socialist intellectual and publicist, as much a man of the Left as Noam Chomsky. His conversion to fascism was not a renunciation of this legacy, but a modification of it: he came to see solidarity with one's Nation rather than with one's Class as the key to breaking the hold of "liberal capitalism" over the modern world.
The Leftist might, in desperation, point to the "family values" that Nazis and fascists claimed, like contemporary conservatives, to champion. But this demonstrates, not a link between fascism and conservatism, but only the extreme decadence into which Leftist thinking has sunk. For the reason Nazis and fascists claimed to champion these things was that everyone in public life in the thirties and forties championed them, whatever their position on the political spectrum; there was nothing terribly distinctive about it. It is only in an age in which the common moral sense of the West has reached the depths it has that a commitment to "family values" could be regarded as anything other than an (admittedly banal) expression of one's grasp of the morally obvious. Presumably the Nazis also spoke up for good grooming and table manners; no doubt there is a Leftist somewhere who would see this too as a telltale sign of right-wingery.
Chomsky and McGory eat your hearts out......you've been accurately described.
Can a person write well and be a philosopher at the same time? Edward Feser proves that one can, and he does so again in an important essay titled "Hayek on Tradition". Feser is that rarest of fine writers -- one who writes well while at the same time thinking well. Not a common thing, that. And it his essay Feser is in top form, explicating uncommon wisdom in common language -- making here the important point that the very idea of tradition has long been under fierce assualt from a critical viewpoint which itself lacks the justification which is demanded of those who perceive the significance of tradition in the make-up of who and what we are. Correctly understood, however, tradition itself might be said to have made possible even such things as critical inquiry itself. A critical tradition which condemns tradition is one advocating the philosophy of the tail-swallow. Only fools need follow there.
So who is Feser? Feser teaches philosophy at Loyola Marymont in Los Angeles and is the author of a solid little introduction to the moral and political philosophy of Robert Nozick titled On Nozick. He's also perhaps the world's leading expert on Friedrich Hayek's philosophy of mind -- no small challenge that (take a look some time at Hayek's landmark work in neuroscience and philosophy titled The Sensory Order if you'd like some sense of the difficulties involved).
Posted by Greg Ransom at November 12, 2003 12:08 AM | TrackBack
Another TechCentralStation publication: Does Islam Need a Luther or a Pope?
Loyola Marymont website some info: http://www.lmu.edu/include/02newfaculty.pdf
The 'alliance' argument is invalid -- the US also allied itself with the USSR. The 'Nazis were Socialists' point is the real argument to drive home -- and it needs to be driven home time and time again.
We need to get this guy on talk radio and TV to go down the list.
Rush should interview him for his newsletter.
Not only the press. If you can believe it (and I am sure you can) some colleges are teaching kids that Soviet Communism wasn't really communism at all. I heard two students talking this up a year or so ago. They attended Reed College in Portland. The same Reed College named after a guy buried at the Kremilin - John Reed.
Its the old, "communism has never been tried before" line. Or the, "it didn't work because (______)" line.
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