In a signed op-ed in the New York Times (unfortunately, behind the TimesSelect firewall), Roger Cohen, whose liberal credentials are impeccable, writes of what we in the blogosphere often refer to as Bush Derangement Syndrome:
This has been a bleak year for nuanced thinking. President George W. Bush likes to speak in certainties; contrition and compromise are not his thing. Among hyper-ventilating left-liberals, hatred of Bush is so intense that rational argument usually goes out the window. The result is a mindless cacophony.
Bush, even after the thumping of the Republicans in November, equates criticism of the war in Iraq with defeatist weakness. Much of the left, in both Europe and the United States, is so convinced that the Iraq invasion was no more than an American grab for oil and military bases, it seems to have forgotten the myriad crimes of Saddam Hussein.
There appears to be little hope that Bush will ever abandon his with-us-or-against-us take on the post-9/11 world. Division is the president's adrenalin; he abhors shades of gray. Nor does it seem likely that the America-hating, over-the-top ranting of the left — the kind that equates Guantánamo with the Gulag and holds that the real threat to human rights comes from the White House rather than Al Qaeda — will abate during the Bush presidency.
This state of affairs is grave. The threat posed by Islamic fanaticism, inside and outside Iraq, requires the lucid analysis and informed disagreement of civilized minds. Bush's certainties are dangerous. But so is the moral equivalency of the left, the kind that during the Cold War could not see the crimes of communism, and now seems ready to equate the conservative leadership of a great democracy with dictatorship.I am grateful to Niall Stanage, a Belfast-born, New-York based journalist, for pointing out to me in an e-mail that the leftist Respect coalition represented in the British Parliament by George Galloway had this to say about Iraq:
"The resistance in Iraq is engaged in a battle to liberate the country. The Iraqi resistance deserves the support of the international antiwar movement."
That's a call for the mass of European pacifists to back the beheading brigade, the child-bombers and other fundamentalist loonies who want to restore the Caliphate. A call made in the name of defeating what Galloway and his ilk see as the greater evil, the United States.
Fortunately, in the face of such hysteria, an expression of moderate sanity has emerged over the past year. Precisely because of its sanity, it has received too little attention.
I refer to the Euston Manifesto (www.eustonmanifesto.org), published last March by a group of mainly left-of-center thinkers, and the supporting statement called "American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto," published by U.S. intellectuals in September.
These outlines of liberal principle — liberal in its best Enlightenment sense rather than in its debased Fox- News guise of insult — constitute a solid foundation for debate of Iraq and the struggle against terrorism that the White House now calls "The Long War."