Monday, June 19, 2006

Cheap Shots: Uh-Oh

It seems that uberblogger Andrew Sullivan grows less conservative every day, and of late he has become as fascinated by the prospect of torture as Harold Pinter. (Perhaps Sullivan is also gunning for a Nobel Prize.) I haven't commented on his torture thread so far, because I haven't found anything substantive to object to. Social convention requires us to say that torture is always beyond the pale, regardless of what we actually think, and I haven't seen anything from Sullivan that exceeds common decency on this point.

Today, however, he wrote this sentence:

But torture is always wrong; and this war is both military and ideological.

If that latter part is true, we're in more trouble than I thought. Military wars are winnable, but ideological wars may not be.

In a military war, you can declare victory when your enemy can no longer harm you or anyone else. However, an ideological victory can occur only when your enemy voluntarily shakes your hand and thanks you for what you've done to him. Somehow it seems wrong to expect anything like that from Iraq.

I still think that a government which respects basic personal and economic liberty is possible in Iraq, but I am no longer certain that in the short term such a government would be democratic in nature. But "ideological warfare" won't bring such a government into being. Using war to advance a democratic ideology makes about as much sense as beating a horse with carrots and feeding it sticks.

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