Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Handwringing or rotten?

In The Weekly Standard William Kristol complains about pro-war liberals’ response to the Haditha massacre thus:
As for the pro-American left, they write more in sorrow than in anger. Here's The New Republic's Peter Beinart:

Americans can be as barbaric as anyone. What makes us an exceptional nation with the capacity to lead and inspire the world is our very recognition of that fact. We are capable of Hadithas and My Lais, so is everyone. But few societies are capable of acknowledging what happened, bringing the killers to justice, and instituting changes that make it less likely to happen again. That's how we show we are different from the jihadists. We don't just assert it. We prove it. That's the liberal version of American exceptionalism, and it's what we need right now in response to this horror. [Krisol responds:]

No, it isn't. The last thing we need in response to Haditha is hand-wringing liberalism. The war against the jihadists, a war Beinart supports, is not a metaphorical one. What makes us exceptional is that we stand for liberty, and that we are willing to fight for liberty. We don't need to "prove" we are different from the jihadists by bringing our own soldiers, if they have done something wrong, to justice. Of course we must and will do this. But our doing this "proves" nothing. Even if there were ten Hadithas, we would still not have to "prove" that we are "different from the jihadists." The idea would be offensive if it were not ludicrous.

Is ‘hand wringing liberalism’, the doctrine of effete men of inaction, the same as what Stalin called ‘rotten liberalism’? Of which he complained in 1931:

rotten liberalism, which has spread to some extent among a section of the Bolsheviks.

Fortunately the Ukrainian famine provided a de-rottening test. Perhaps rather than handwringing liberalism we could have squeezing and tugging conservatism?


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