Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sullivan Stirs The Pot

Posted by codemorse

From Andrew Sullivan.com:

A reader wants to know what the silence is all about:

The radio silence on Lebanon from the left-wing blogosphere (i.e. Kos, Atrios) is fascinating, and your reader from the '
Liberal Blogs and Israel' post had it about right. To sympathize with Hezbollah would expose these bloggers to a potentially career-damaging backlash. However, to take the mainstream Democratic line of say, Chuck Schumer, would be to seriously alienate a chunk of their readership....

I've actually been skeptical of beating up on Kos on this. But I just read the last three pages of posts on the
main site, and there's only one even vaguely alluding to the crisis with Hezbollah. That's just plain weird. I know we're not supposed to notice silence on blogs - people are free to ignore all sorts of stories. But the silence can be instructive (hey, I studied with a Straussian).

This is Atrios'
second-hand excuse:

I've said nothing about war in Lebanon or Ethiopia because I have nothing to add, and also because - as you may or may not be aware -the United States is actually involved in a hugely bloody war right now, and this is more of a pressing concern to me personally. I don’t know the secret formula for unshitting any of these beds - I promise I wouldn't be shy if I did - but I currently only have to sleep in one of them; and, as it turns out, that's the one bed where I actually have some miniscule chance of influencing the situation. So that’s my concern.

This would make sense if there were no connections between Hezbollah and Iran and Iraq. Are lefties unable to grapple with complex regional wars? Nah. They're just wimping out. My reader gives one plausible reason why. Is there a more persuasive one?


Up until that last bit, I was pretty much right there with Sullivan. Allow me to attempt an explanation:

I think that there are quite a few "Lefty" blogs who've essentially decided that anything supported by Bush is now automatically suspect. This is, on one level, entirely understandable to me. Bush has lied/misled/been wrong about... well... pretty much everything since the war-drums started up for Iraq. He's steam-rolled over his doubters, and ignored the views of smart, politically active people in favor of policies and actions that have been shown to be, at the very least, severe miscalculation.

So, a certain skepticism over this current conflict is to be expected. This is understandable, but also harmful. Blanket-hate is smothering, and its unjustified. Sullivan is also correct about the relative lack of posting about this conflict, at least at the sites I tend to frequent. Some of this can be attributed to the view that this isn't "World War III" (as many a news-anchor/commentator has declared), but rather an unfortunate regional conflict. Many of the "lefties" Sullivan decries are actually quite "conservative" when it comes to involving our country in the bloody, time-battered conflicts between Israel and everybody else.

Some "lefties" believe that our constant and consistent defense of Israel is misguided, and prolongs conflicts in the middle-east that we might actually be able to help settle, were we not always in Israel's corner, to the detriment of legitimate complaints and fears voiced by other countries.

I'm of the belief that trying to involve oneself in a war centered around religion is a losing proposition, no matter the side you choose. This does not mean that Israel "had this coming," or that Israel is "bad." Israel is a country, without such convenient appellations. Obviously, Israel has suffered massively under terrorist threat for far longer than our country has. Their reaction in this case is, to my mind, rather intense. But then, I don't have to worry about suicide bombings like they do, and that does make a difference in how one views these things.

They've been attacked. Constantly. Is it so strange to think that they might be a little sick of that?

HOWEVER.

To imply that silence on "the blogosphere" regarding this conflict = an inability to "grapple with complex regional wars" is ridiculous. And it furthers the most glaring trait of conservative and liberal alike in our Brave New Polarized World.

Namely, the desire to paint the opposition as idiots.

Is Sullivan serious? Is the man who supported the war in Iraq on the basis of faulty intelligence, a total misunderstanding of Iraq's probable reaction, and a (probably altruistic in his case) impulse to nation-build over any attempt to understand the "complex" regional politics of the middle-east actually wondering whether the middle-east is too "complex" for the lefties?

He's half-serious, it seems. After all, there's that hypothetical-negating "nah" there right after he asks his question. But that's sort of the equivalent of a liberal saying "Are all conservatives blood-thirsty, war-mongering, empire-building neo-fascists? Nah."

The effect is to distance yourself from the question while allowing that question to twist in the wind. It's clever, and sometimes effective (I'm sure I've done it), but it's also sort of sad.

A question or two: Wasn't the region's complexity one of the MAJOR reasons for opposing the rushing in, all willy-nilly, to liberate a people that many were concerned didn't particularly want the sort of liberation we offered?

And isn't the insistence (by those who are talking about the conflict) that Israel is not always "right" in action, even when "right" in indignation a confirmation that middle-eastern politics are damn complicated?

Perhaps the critics were right. Irony is dead.

Even less appealing is Sullivan's suggestion that the lefty blogosphere has "wimped out." Not because I happen to know whether or not that's the case, but because it's the kind of thing a drunk at a bar might ask. It's got no substance. No reason to exist. As Sullivan himself notes, "people are free to ignore all sorts of stories." Like how Sullivan ignored the enormous factual discrepancies between what the administration told us about Iraq and what every other newssource in the world told us.

The man who couldn't/wouldn't see this, and who has only recently come around to the idea that perhaps President Bush wasn't being, y'know, honest with us, is throwing around the word "wimpy" like it means something.

Remember what I said about irony being dead? Long live irony!

3 Comments:

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Like a lot about the post, but comparing (actually, I'm not sure it was a comparison per se) Sullivan's comments regarding liberal bloggers and the lack of commentary re: Israel/Lebanon and Sullivan's acceptance of the President's intelligence claims regarding Iraq's Weapons or otherwise seem to me to be tenuous. At best.

Nor am I sure what is meant by the "right in action" vs. "right in indignation" dichotomy. Is the suggestion that Israel is right to be angry about being attacked, they are just not right to do anything about it? Or are they only right to do something about it that has no chance of preventing a similar action in the future?

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Definately not a comparison.

In any way, shape or form.

Simply pointing out that using the word "wimpy" in this context sounds strange, considering Sullivan's acceptance of prior intelligence claims and his current state of enlightenment on the subject.

Given his own history of having ignored/brushed aside/dismissed opposing intelligence information, suggesting something as simplistic and stupid as "wimpiness" being the cause for silence seems ironic to me.

Clearly, the left distrusts this administration. You have to have sipped some SERIOUS kool-aid not to at least understand that, if not accept it. Wimpiness? Why not just say that they're "unpatriotic" and revert to using that old saw?

It's possible that I'm using "ironic" in the same way Alanis Morrisette did - wrongly. But it's certainly "wimpy" of him to resort to the word.

And the "right in action" vs. "right in indignation" dichotomy? I'm suggesting that you can agree with a country's/person's anger without endorsing/accepting their response.

I agree entirely with Israel's anger. I'm unsure whether their response will be effective, or will change things for the better.

I agreed 100% with the mission to go after terrorists post-9/11. I supported our campaign in Afghanistan. But I disagreed with the desire to go to Iraq.



That's all, really.

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

And thanks.

 

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