The Left: Are We (Secretly) Pulling for the Insurgents?

Today’s Times has a good piece about the leftwing rage toward Joe Lieberman for being George Bush’s lapdog on the disastrous Iraq policy. Even the Daily Kos has come out for Lieberman’s primary opponent, Ned Lamont, who wants Connecticut to be progressive again.

I’m all for Lamont; I want Lieberman and all the other so-called liberal hawks—and the rightwing hawks, too—to sleep in the bed they made for themselves in the thuggish faith that you can impose democracy by force in the Mideast, or anywhere for that matter.

But the article exposes the left’s soft underbelly. Withdraw the troops? Well, no. Lamont says he wants the troops withdrawn from the Sunni Triangle immediately, then we should establish benchmarks for their complete withdrawal. The left’s leader on the issue, Russ Feingold, says that we should have all troops out by the end of the year. Others talk about an “oil spot” strategy—similar to Lamont’s idea, in which Baghdad is secured and then the peace spreads out over the rest of the country like an oil spot on your jeans.

The difficulty is that few on the left have any clear idea what to do. By and large, we feel an American withdrawal would cause more suffering. Myself, I say that the main thing we need to do now, and forcefully, is repudiate our current policy so that we can actually get other countries to help us try and stabilize the place. But is that a policy? Not really.

Believe me, I despise Bush and Lieberman as much as anyone, for the incalculable suffering they brought to a people they’ve never met, out of a fantasy about their own power and goodness. They should suffer politically for that, and in their dreams. The problem for my side is that the left’s only political position is that rage. We hope to milk till November at least, when progressives will be empowered and neoconservative nationalism’s back is broken. I suppose we can rationalize the fact that there’s no responsibility in that program because we feel no responsibility. Hey, when we said, “Not In My Name,” about this war, we meant it.

The moral difficulty is that it places us in a really bad position: hoping for more bad news from Iraq, pulling for the insurgents.