Posted by lex, on June 14th, 2007
Over at the American Prospect, Ezra Klein has had it up to here ** with liberal hawks like the editors of the New Republic and Democracy’s Ken Baer:
Today’s liberal hawks are engaged in a (subtle) game. The Iraq war is an acknowledged catastrophe. The same group-think and bandwagon effects that once pushed them so irresistibly towards embracing the invasion is now similarly forceful in pulling them to abandon it. The question, for many, is how to finesse that flip without losing one’s reputation for unparalleled foreign policy seriousness. The answer is Iran.
The new approach is not to refight the battle over the Iraq war, but to argue that those who got it right, or who got it wrong but eventually came to the right answer, are now in danger of overlearning the lessons of the war — and missing the danger posed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Not a bit of it, argues Klein:
(T)his is not a time for self-righteous posturing or rhetorical toughness; it is a time for those who do want to prevent war with Iran to, well, oppose war with Iran. That doesn’t mean supporting their nuclear ambitions, or developing a misplaced affection for an ugly regime. But it does mean speaking forthrightly about what a catastrophe a military attack would prove to be. Liberals, after all, do not control the government. George W. Bush is still the Commander in Chief. The best liberals can hope for, then, is to influence the discourse and shift the spectrum of opinion deemed “acceptable.”
Well, I suppose.
I actually happen to agree with Klein that a military strike on Iran would probably be counter-productive – at least for now. Sure, Ol’ Beady Eyes is certainly a provocative feller, but he’s held on a pretty short leash by the mullahcracy – a group of mostly 70-something has-beens who are increasingly yesterday’s news in a place where more than two-thirds of the population is too young to even remember the revolution. Iranian youth appears to be increasingly chafing under the regime’s onerous restrictions, but they’d probably resent us bombing them even more.
But it seems to me that any policy debate which starts out with the premise that language on the use of military force is ”unacceptable” only serves to unilaterally take a potentially persuasive negotiating position off the table without extracting any kind of Iranian quid pro quo. If you don’t open up to IAEA scrutiny the argument might go, we will pursue sanctions against you. If you respond by redoubling your production of weapons quality Uranium we shall pursue additional sanctions. And if you weaponize tha Uranium and place it atop missiles pointed at the West?
Still more sanctions!
Who knows: It might work.
Anyway, having told us what may not be said by serious liberals in response to the admittedly serious policy issue that is Iran, Klein declines for now to tell us what we ought to do.
Perhaps that will come in tomorrow’s post.
** 10-10-20 Link gone; no replacement found – Ed.