February 28, 2005

Yes, I Like Killing Bad Guys: A reply to Duncan Black

The problem with Duncan "Atrios" Black is that he believes he knows what the real motivations of Conservatives are. For instance this from his blog today:

But, the more interesting question is why conservatives aren't jumping up and down about [Egypt's announcement that they will allow multi-party Presidential elections] . I think it's pretty obvious -- most aren't particularly concerned with spreading Democracy around the world. George Bush might actually be sincere in his new mission, though I don't think he has a deep grasp of what "democracy" is, but most of the rest of them aren't.

Republicans have never stopped being isolationist and anti-nation building (true of most of the US population, actually). They don't think tyranny leads to terrorism (nor am I claiming there's necessarily a strong connection), and don't really want to expend any treasure helping out "the other." What they do like is killing bad guys, and when George Bush says "spreading freedom and democracy" what they hear is "killing bad guys." They like killing "bad guys," and they're a bit lost without an enemy, so the actual spreading of democracy just doesn't excite them that much.

Duncan has caught the 'I know you better than you know yourself' disease so often seen on the hard right and hard left. He believes that we on the Right have ulterior motives--which is not so much different than my Buchannanite friends who believe the real motives of our Middle East policy is in bolstering Israel.

In fact, many of my friends on the Right think the same thing about the Left. They have ulterior motives--communism, world-government, whatever.

I suspect that Atrios is right to some extent. The ulterior motive for the war in Iraq was not the spreading of democracy, it was protecting national security. But arguing cause is not the same thing as arguing affect. Spreading democracy was never a reason to go to war, it is only the affect.

Further, unlike our friends on the Left we do like killing bad guys. That is to say, unlike Atrios I believe it is a moral imperetive to distinguish between killing bad guys and good guys. Kill all the bad guys, that's fine with me.

But asserting that the Right needs an enemy is a little weird. The Right no more needs and external enemy than the Left needs an internal enemy. Yes, the Right thinks that there are external threats to our national security--but to assert that we need them is to assert that these threats are not real.

Worse than that, it is to assert that they are made up for the sake of political expediency. That is paranoia.

As for Duncan's claim that the Right is not overly happy about the announcement that Egypt may hold multi-party elections, he makes that assertion based on a claim made by Matthew Yglesias in a post which praises Bush. Had either of them been paying attention they would have seen that a lot of Right bloggers had noticed and were engaged in some pretty heavy patting themselves on the back. Take for instance Glenn Reynolds and the moderate Jeff Jarvis.

Today's Right of center blogosphere word is: domino effect.

As far as I can tell, they really believe that Democracy will lead to less terrorism. Personally, I'm not so optimistic--but I have been wrong before.

The present stance of the Bush administration is, as far as I can tell, the same as that of Natan Sharanski. (ht: the semi-retired Allah)

Last, had the 'realitity based' community actually bothered to read what the Right's reaction was they would have seen that we too are cautiously optimistic about the success of democracy in Egypt. Today's Right blogosphere is abuzz with self-congratulations, I told you so's, and celebration as if the Berlin wall was coming down.

Unlike the Left, though, we are willing to give credit where credit is due. To imagine that the events unfolding in the Middle East would have happened without the Iraq invasion is to create a counter-factual devoid of all historical context.

Our motive in invading Iraq was not to begin the domino effect of democracy, however that is the result of our actions. Bush is responsible for this. And for this the neo-cons are celebrating--and rightly so.

Perhaps Duncan and Matthew ought to listen to what the Right is really saying, rather than doing a quick scan of The Corner for all things right-of-center as proof positive of what we are up to. If anything, the reason that the buzz over Egypt is so mild is that events in Lebanon and Syria have overshadowed them.

More importantly, the gang at Media Matters ought to rely less on the mind-reader Chomsky [who knows the real reasons why American foreign policy is what it is] for theoretical explanations into our motivations and and focus more on listenning to what we are actually saying. To do so might be a little more reality based.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 03:34 PM | Comments |