On the Left and Overseas Conflict

One of the rising mini-blog storms in the right (and responses on the left) that arose today is about the silence on the left regarding the troops and low level conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan (and perhaps Pakistan). The default notion that arises here is that this lack of response that this reflects how much that the left was anti-Bush and the conflict was just a proxy for that animus. There may be some truth to this accusation, however I think that is not the whole or even the larger part of it. For while it is true that the anti-war propaganda and general energy/excitement that is present now has pretty much vanished, it is also true that the small government, e.g., tea party, sentiments that have and had been strong on the right vanished during much of the Bush tenure.

Ronald Reagan, I think, coined the “11th commandment: thou shalt not speak ill of your own party”, which is largely at play here. A corollary of this commandment is that while one does not speak ill of the doings by those in your party that you disagree with … one’s defense of the same is usually tepid or absent as well. For example, on my part, while I did not really soundly thrash Mr Bush for expanding Medicare entitlements … I did not defend it one bit either. I was silent. Likewise, we see the left, while they are silent as Mr Obama expands operations in Afghanistan (and likely delays withdrawal in Northern Iraq) neither will they, I suspect, leap to his defense against those who would speak against this. Likewise on Medicare and now the two COIN operations, criticism does largely not arise from the other party, which is in general agreement with those moves (even if they might criticize implementation details). The criticism arises more from non-party aligned people further to the right or left (or in the case of Medicare … the Libertarian fringe movement).

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  1. Boonton says:

    well for one thing Afghanistan was quite a different animal than Iraq. After 9/11 the need to address Afghanistan was obvious, the need to invade Iraq was manufactured. Additionally Obama campaigned on expanding operations in Afghanistan (and possibly Pakistan in order to get bin laden).

    That being the case I think we have a situation like the Spanish-American War. Sure it was unnecessary but what are you going to do about it now? We are pulling out of Iraq, if there’s some delays here or there that in itself shouldn’t merit turning on Obama, although I it should be watched carefully.

  2. Since I believed Iraq was a strategic error, and we’re withdrawing with what I think is due caution, and I thought Afghanistan was justified but did not get adequate support, I really have little to criticize Obama for on these.

    As I recall, he said he was going to emphasize Afghanistan, but few were listening. I’m afraid I see no call for surprise anywhere on the foreign policy front. Disagreement, perhaps, but no surprise.