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Savage Demagoguery


If you saw Atrios’ post today but you don’t read The Stranger, Seattle’s fine alt-weekly, and only know “Savage Love,” you may not be aware of how abjectly bad Dan Savage’s writings before the war were. We’re not talkng about tortured, reluctant, careful support of the war without demonizing its opponents here. Savage, a genuinely first-rate editor, when writing about politics is highly prone to shallow, self-congratulatory contrarianism, and his defense of the Iraq war was as demagogic as Reynolds, as naive as Totten, as ignorant of basic facts and counterarguments as…well, insert name of pretty much any Keyboard Kommando here. Allow us to revisit his less-than-prescient proclamations. We start with an old classic, “the left is objectively pro-Saddam, unlike that sincere liberal internationalist Dick Cheney:”

While the American left is content to see an Iraqi dictator terrorizing the Iraqi people, the Bushies in D.C. are not. “We do not intend to put American lives at risk to replace one dictator with another,” Dick Cheney recently told reporters. For those of you who were too busy making papier-mache puppets of George W. Bush last week to read the papers, you may have missed this page-one statement in last Friday’s New York Times: “The White House is developing a detailed plan, modeled on the postwar occupation of Japan, to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein.”

Hopefully he’s learned by know that discussing how bad “A” is does not compel action without an analysis of what option “B” is and what opportunity cost “($*trillions and trillions)” is.

Wait, it gets worse. The American left, we’re told, consists entirely of pacifists:

Because claiming this victory means backing this war, and the American left refuses to back this or any war–which makes the left completely irrelevant in any conversation about the advisability or necessity of a particular war. (Pacifism is faith, not politics.) What’s worse, the left argues that our past support for regimes like Saddam’s prevents us from doing anything about Saddam now. We supported (and in some cases installed) tyrants, who in turn created despair, which in turn created terrorists, who came over here and blew shit up… so now what do we do? According to the left, we do nothing. It’s all our fault, so we’re just going to have to sit back and wait for New York City or D.C. or a big port city (like, say, Seattle or Portland) to disappear.

Yes, well, except for the fact that the vast majority of the American left supported not only the Kosovo intervention but the invasion of Afghanistan, and pacifism is a fringe ideology with about as much influence in American politics as the use-legalized-hemp-to-free-Mumia lobby. Which leaves us with two options: either Savage defines “the American left” as “the socialist cranks handing out fliers on John and Broadway”, or he’s entirely full of shit. Anyway, moving past a few more strawmen, we get this doozy:

But wait! Iraq isn’t in cahoots with al Qaeda, so why attack Iraq in the war on terrorism?

Because we’re not just at war with al Qaeda, stupid. We’re at war with a large and growing Islamo-fascist movement that draws its troops and funds from all over the Islamic world. Islamo-fascism is a regional problem, not just an al Qaeda problem or an Afghanistan problem. To stop Islamo-fascism, we’re going to have to roll back all of the tyrannous and dictatorial regimes in the Middle East while simultaneously waging war against a militant, deadly religious ideology.

Omitted: an explanation of how replacing a (certainly brutal) secular dictatorship with a Shiite theocracy that relies on sectarian militias for basic social control represents a blow against “Islamo-fascism.”

And, finally, we end up with this old favorite, the Domino theory:

In the meantime, invading and rebuilding Iraq will not only free the Iraqi people, it will also make the Saudis aware of the consequences they face if they continue to oppress their own people while exporting terrorism and terrorists. The War on Iraq will make it clear to our friends and enemies in the Middle East (and elsewhere) that we mean business: Free your people, reform your societies, liberalize, and democratize… or we’re going to come over there, remove you from power, free your people, and reform your societies for ourselves.

Yeah, thank heaven for the invasion of Iraq, or an increasingly reactionary Iranian government might be pursuing nuclear weapons, with the full knowledge that we can’t do anything about it because are troops are stretched to the breaking point elsewhere. Whew, feel the wind of freedom!

So, you know, it’s nice that he’s now seen the light about Bush’s war, but if I were him I would think a little modesty might be in order.

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