by Rod D. Martin
Founder and Chairman
March 16, 2006
Andrew Sandlin has posted concerning Andrew Sullivan and Francis Fukuyama’s recent recantings of their earlier positions on the war. It is worth reading, and I will repost it here, with further comments of my own at the end.
The most surprising news relating the current American war in Iraq emerges not from streets of Baghdad but from the editorial pages of American magazines. Some of the neo-conservatives, denizens of the vanguard Right rushing all over themselves just three years ago to proffer intellectual tresses for the president’s war effort, have in the aftermath of a bloody occupation that may foster a civil war done a public about-face in now repenting and complaining about American “narcissism,” “naiveté” and “unilateralism” in our undertaking the current conflict. Both Francis Fukuyama (America at the Crossroads, Yale University Press) and Andrew Sullivan (“What I Got Wrong About the War,” Time, March 13, 2006) recently experienced something akin to a religious conversion in revolting against the neocon rationale for the Iraq War and its entire foreign policy philosophy. This reversal is validly available to all whose initial support for the war did not feature a moral component: “Saddam is an evil, a torturing, murdering tyrant who must be displaced by a humane democracy.” Or, “Iraq possesses or soon will possess WMDs, and its regime must be overthrown to protect the citizens both of Israel and the United States. Under the circumstances, regime change is the most humane action we could take.”
After all, Saddam was by all accounts (except his own) a torturing, murdering tyrant; and Iraq had employed WMDs against the Kurds (whether Iraq possessed them in 2002 or not).
If the chief justification for invasion was not simply pragmatic (we can get away with it) but rather moral (this is the right thing to do), we can scarcely reverse ourselves because the invasion did not bring a swift antiseptic success festooned with the all accoutrements of Western democracy. RealPolitik does not well serve the cause of moral indignation. Moralizers are not entitled to say with Sullivan: “The specter of Iraq teetering closer to civil war and disintegration has forced a reckoning [among us neocons].”
Memo to Fukuyama, Sullivan and Co.: buck up and be men. If the invasion was morally justified, and if the chief rationale for it was in fact just such morality, stand up and take your lumps. After all, while all of us are entitled to change our mind, moral principles do not change every three years. If they do, they weren’t principles — or moral — in the first place.
Now is not the time to be squeamish, gentlemen.
You never count the cost of doing right.
You do right.
I realize that by “vanguard Right” Andrew is not talking about TheVanguard.Org or Vanguard PAC. However, I would just like to note — lest anyone miss the point — that we have not changed our tune in the least regarding American foreign policy in Iraq or anywhere else; and additionally, that while we mean no disrespect to Mssrs. Fukuyama or Sullivan, just at the moment, we’re rather glad we do not now and never have had them in our association. Andrew’s assessment of their present performance is precisely correct (we would add that Mr. Fukuyama’s entire “end of history” thesis is riding on the line just now, and with his magnum opus in re-release, this is no doubt much of the motivation for his current comments), and we are both saddened and distinctly unimpressed.