Understanding the ‘groundswell of anxiety’
: So Colin Powell
is back to arguing in favor of a ‘great coalition’ to take on Iraq. Guess he’s got to keep trying, as futile as it may seem. We’ll have to go it alone, or with a minimal amount of allies, as things stand now. ...
has an interesting post today on the subject. Andrew: “I've been trying to understand better the groundswell of anxiety about the coming war. Leaving aside the extremists, it seems to me that the undecideds simply hold an assumption I don't share. The assumption is that 9/11 was an isolated event that portended nothing more than itself and only legitimized a police operation in self-defense targeted precisely at the group that perpetrated it.” ... Glad he threw in the line about ‘leaving aside the extremists,’ for I’ve gotten quite a bit of email recently suggesting that my criticism of Bush in recent posts somehow shows I’ve become ‘antiwar.’ I also appreciate the fact that Andrew is at least ‘trying to understand better’ the views of non-extremists. But that’s the problem: Bush and his supporters have done very little to try to understand better people with different views on how to reach the same goal: Disarming and/or removing Saddam. It’s not all about ‘anxiety’ or ‘ambivalence’ or ‘faux-hawkish multilateralists.’ It also has to do with a perception, based on reality, in my opinion, that this administration has regularly, consistently, adamantly turned a tin ear to those with different ideas and views on how to reach the same end. The administration and its supporters have been, at times, bellicose, contemptuous and disdainful towards people who would have gladly lined up behind him had he tried to better understand their doubts and concerns. I think it was Mickey Kaus who wrote, soon after Sept. 11, that the administration had to reach out to Democrats in order to reach a true national consensus. True, but I would add: The administration had to also reach out to Independents and even people within his own party. What did we get? Trial balloons (quickly shot down) about how the administration might not have to consult with Congress over going to war with Iraq. Initially dismissing attempts to rally international support through the U.N. (but later embracing this approach under pressure, when it was too late). Etc., etc., etc. Most of us non-extremists-- the lukewarm supporters of his general cause -- actually believe in building as strong a consensus and alliance as possible. Poll after poll has shown Americans prefer going into this war with as much support as possible. This hasn’t always been the attitude of the administration, as we all know. What we’re seeing now at the U.N. -- with the U.S., France, Germany at odds etc. -- is two unwilling dancers at the prom. None of them truly believe in the U.N. route. They’re just doing it for the appearance. ...
... so now we’re heading to war, with divisions in America and within our NATO alliance (which some in the administration have always pooh-poohed as a viable partner). We’re getting the unilateralist approach that some in the administration have always wanted and advocated. And that disturbs and depresses a lot of people. We could have done better. How much better, I’m not sure. But we could have done better. Brighton Reader has been sending me a lot of emails lately on this subject. One line he sent sticks out. Here it is:
“As Churchill said, the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without them.”
Well, I’m supporting Bush now. The stakes are too high. But I regret, even resent, the path we followed to get here.