23 June 2005

Oh, Karl


The AP is reporting that Karl Rove, speaking at a New York Conservative Party dinner, had this to say:
"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Rove said Wednesday night. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."
He is, of course, being utterly mendacious. The administration he's part of saw 9/11 as the perfect excuse to attack Iraq. They did this by pandering to and encouraging people's natural desire for revenge, without considering if it would be effective. (Ask the Israelis and Palestinians how well revenge has been working out for them.) Using war to punish the acts of a few is "collective punishment", and is a crime.

What this liberal wanted was the arrest, trial, and punishment of those responsible for inciting, funding, planning, and executing these attacks. I wanted a thorough investigation of the intelligence and leadership failures that allowed the attacks to happen. I wanted changes to address the results of that investigation. Just as I did before 9/11, I wanted the United States to stop its unjust, unfair, and counterproductive policies in the Middle East.

And yes, I wanted Saddam Hussein gone. I wanted democracy, freedom, and justice for the people of the Middle East. I wanted religious leaders to stop promoting hate. I wanted Islamic culture to open the gates of ijtihad, and once again become the wellspring of ideas it long ago was.

But here's the thing — none of those things can be forced on people. You can't create a real democracy at the point of a gun. At one time, the United States could have encouraged democratic movements and promoted freedom of thought and religion. Instead we chose to suppress democracy and support tyranny. As a result, it will be a very long time before we have enough credibility to be a positive force in the Middle East.

If Bush's policies and the war wind up creating a free democratic Iraq, and if other Middle Eastern countries follow (dare I say "like dominoes"?), no one will be more delighted than I. But also, no one will be more surprised.

Update: Democrats think Rove should apologize; Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman "said there was no need to apologize because 'what Karl Rove said is true.'"