Saturday, November 26, 2005

Gains from "Comforting the Enemy"?

Daniel Drezner posts an excerpt from an Economist article arguing that Al Qaeda/Zarqawi have antagonized the "Arab street" and draws attention to a comment:
[Economist]" Now, or so it seems, it is the cooling of the Palestinian intifada, a slight lowering of the volume of imagery featuring ugly Americans in Iraq, and a general weariness with jihadist hysteria that have allowed attention to refocus on the costs, rather than the hoped-for rewards, of “resistance”. At the same time, the rising tide of American domestic opposition to the war has begun to reassure deeply sceptical Arabs that the superpower may not, after all, be keen to linger on Arab soil for ever. (emphasis added)
The administration has consistently crticized the domestic opposition to the Iraq war effort because it ostensible undercuts troop morale. However, the suggestion that this same opposition helps to vitiate Arab claims of U.S. imperialism is an intriguing one."

This seems reasonable to me. After all, one of the premises of liberalism, I think voiced by J.S.Mill, is that open discussion is the corrective to dogmatism. I remember the 50's, when in the words of Whitaker Chambers--democracy/the West seemed to be the losing side. Communist totalitarian society seemed to have the advantage in allocating resources, as shown by big gains in GDP, culminating in Nikita's boast that they would "bury" us. (He claimed to have meant in economic terms.) Then, too, liberals had to trust to the idea that efficiency directed to a goal was not the end all and be all. While Cheney and his running dog Bush (while I'm stuck in the 50's I might as well revive some rhetoric from that era) believe that a single-minded, focused effort is needed to defeat terrorism, liberals must believe that the virtues of the society/culture will prevail, even when dissent undermines the morale of the Pentagon troopers.

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