Monday, August 06, 2007

Realists vs. Fantasists

Fantastn. an impractical dreamer. (Webster’s New World Dictionary)

Michael Ignatieff, a former Harvard professor and now a member of the Canadian parliament, pens a mea culpa about his support for the Iraq War in this week’s New York Times Magazine.
It is an intersting and reflective piece that makes a point I’ve been stressing for some time — that the war supporters have grasped onto an impractical and unrealistic fantasy with regards to their expectations for Iraq.

The people who truly showed good judgment on Iraq predicted the consequences that actually ensued but also rightly evaluated the motives that led to the action. They did not necessarily possess more knowledge than the rest of us. They labored, as everyone did, with the same faulty intelligence and lack of knowledge of Iraq’s fissured sectarian history. What they didn’t do was take wishes for reality. They didn’t suppose, as President Bush did, that because they believed in the integrity of their own motives everyone else in the region would believe in it, too. They didn’t suppose that a free state could arise on the foundations of 35 years of police terror. They didn’t suppose that America had the power to shape political outcomes in a faraway country of which most Americans knew little.

It would be nice to live in a fantasy world where the United States could galavant around the world righting wrongs, overthrowing dictators, establishing democracies and other superhero pursuits. But that is not the reality and people who ignore reality inevitably run into trouble.
That doesn’t mean we can’t do things to oppose dictators or support the creation of democracies, but we have to do it from a foundation based in reality. Right now the President of the United States and his enablers (the 30 percent or so of the population that still supports him) are living in a fantasy world. They continue to believe - four and half years later - that we are “winning” in Iraq and that we are “making progress.” They warn of dire consequences if we pull out, just as they boasted of glorious triumphs during the earliest stages of the conflict. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now.

GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul said it well during the latest Republican Debate in Iowa as Josh Marshall notes:

It's sort of obvious now that he said it. But I had not quite thought of it that way. The same people now continually raising the stakes on the price of redeployment from Iraq with increasingly lurid tales of genocide, ethnic cleansing and regional implosion are pretty much exactly the same people who gamed us into this mess in the first place with another bunch of fairy tales.

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