blockquote> Me too! OK, I wasn't strongly against the crushing of Prague Spring, being six months old at the time. ... Anyway, Garton Ash goes on to defend, or at least sketch out, his "position of tortured liberal ambivalence" about Gulf War II. Worth reading, regardless of your position. (Via Matthew Yglesias)

Posted by at February 6, 2003 11:17 AM

I'd guess that most people's position on Iraq could be summarized neatly by their responses to Ash's list of pro and con arguments. I found myself responding "(1) Yes, (2) Yes (and not adequately appreciated), (3) Yes, (4) Total nonsense" to his "for" list, and giving convoluted "Yes, but" answers to the "against" ones.

I will say that the "bin Laden and Saddam are enemies" point has never been very convincing to me. Saddam is obviously willing to use radical Islamist sentiment as another tool in his toolbox, as evidenced by his behavior right after the '91 war; and al Qaeda is obviously willing to make ideological compromises to get attacks done. What bin Laden thinks (or thought) in detail may not even matter, if he's not involved in the detailed planning of operations.

Posted by: Matt McIrvin at February 7, 2003 05:53 AM

Two of Ash's statements encapsulate the tortured ambivalent liberal position:

1) "I was strongly ... for military intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo..."

2) "Just War theory asks for "right intention"."

Morality and sensibility are subordinate to partisan distaste which is in turn based on something akin to bigotry.

To be respected in honorable dissent this won't do. Those who are opposed to war in every case or even support Iraq may be mistaken but they are more admirable than those who sit the fence, balancing on an intellectual wheeze. Ash could improve his intellectual outlook by examining the fallacy of just war theory as he chooses to understand it. It would provide a tool to overcome partisan blindness and make just decisions.

Posted by: back40 at February 10, 2003 08:28 PM
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