The Moose asks for some perspective on the war against Jihadism.
The most reactionary force on the planet is Jihadist terrorism. While some liberals fear that the American religious right would return America to the 1950's, the Islamic fascists look to the seventh century as their model. All values, ideals and freedoms that are treasured by liberals would be repealed and eliminated.
Yet, it is the right that is usually identified as the most adamant opponents of the Jihadists. Indeed, the left has increasingly embraced an amoral realism that is more in the conservative tradition than that of liberal internationalism.
Opposition to the Iraq war has much to do with this role reversal. But, it is far from clear that the top priority of the left is the war against the Jihadists. The left even rejects the labeling them fascists even though they advance a totalitarian ideology that is animated by a nihilistic hatred of "the other". It is easy to rant and rail against the American religious right, but where is the sound and fury against the radical Islamists who once again attempted through their violence to intimidate reasoned debate in the West?
A few months ago, the Moose noted the founding of a group of British leftists who recognize the primacy of the threat of Jihadism to liberal values - the Euston Manifesto. Now, an American counterpart has been formed and they have issued their own version - here.
Of particular note is this passage,
"We take very seriously and find utterly repugnant the threats of Iran's political leaders to "wipe out" the state of Israel. We will not remain silent in the face of these genocidal threats to implement what would amount to a second Holocaust. We note as well that the vast majority of victims of the jihadist fanaticism have been other Muslims. Yet the passions of too many liberals here and abroad, even in the aftermath of terrorist attacks all over the world, remain more focused on the misdeeds and errors of our own government in Iraq than on the terrorist outrages by Islamic extremists. Anger at the Bush administration, however justified, should not trump opposition to all aspects of jihadism."
The Euston liberals face a daunting challenge to claim the soul of progressivism. At the moment, the left is defined by its anti-Bush, anti-war stance. In rhetoric reminiscent of the sixties, some on the left are now suggesting that this country, which liberated millions from the yoke of Saddam and the Taliban, is a rogue nation.
Abu Ghraib was a horrific travesty. But, it has been the exception in this war not the rule. One can differ with the type of interrogation methods employed against terrorists without confusing America with the likes of genuine rogue states such as the Sudan, North Korea, Syria and Iran.
It is safe to say that America is providing non-state combatant detainees more rights and better treatment than any other nation would do under similar circumstances. These military tribunals compare favorably with any others in our own history from Washington to Lincoln to FDR. The hysteria about "tyranny" in America is truly inappropriate.
America accords extraordinary rights even to our enemies who would use all means necessary to kill us and our families. How many countries in the history of civilization would give these rights to killers who refuse to abide by the rules of war and who don't exactly adhere to international treaties? The congressional debate over the last few days was not over "torture" but rather setting reasonable procedures to interrogate and address the status of stateless terrorists and their enablers who refuse to abide by the rules of war.
It comes down to a clash of perspectives between those who view the fight against Jihadists as a criminal action against a gang versus those who view it as a war against a terrorist movement that rejects the normal rules of combat. If you believe the former, the detainees should have access to all of the protections and rights of the American legal system. If your perspective is that this is a war, then the normal protections that are championed by the ACLU for American citizens do not apply.
America remains the great hope of liberalism in a world threatened by reactionaries who seek to repeal civilization and return us to the seventh century. For the sake of the soul of progressivism, it is time for liberals to speak these truths.
Anti-Bush animus is leading lefties to lose perspective and adopt the old "Blame America First" mentality. The enemy is not us. --