Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Euston Manifesto: A leftist expression of moderate sanity amidst the left's America-hating, over-the-top ranting, and mindless cacophony

Among hyper-ventilating left-liberals, hatred of Bush is so intense that rational argument usually goes out the window
writes Roger Cohen (himself usually a rather left-leaning liberal — read how he haughtily disparages Dubya — but otherwise he is here right on the money), who has a good read in the New York Times for those who are "tired of sterile screaming in the wilderness, tired of the comfortably ensconced "hindsighters" poring over every American error in Iraq, tired of facile anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism".
The result is a mindless cacophony. … Much of the left, in both Europe and the United States, is so convinced that the Iraq invasion was no more than an American grab for oil and military bases, it seems to have forgotten the myriad crimes of Saddam Hussein.
There appears to be little hope that Bush will ever abandon his with-us-or-against-us take on the post-9/11 world. Division is the president's adrenalin; he abhors shades of gray. Nor does it seem likely that the America-hating, over-the-top ranting of the left — the kind that equates Guantánamo with the Gulag and holds that the real threat to human rights comes from the White House rather than Al Qaeda — will abate during the Bush presidency.

This state of affairs is grave. The threat posed by Islamic fanaticism, inside and outside Iraq, requires the lucid analysis and informed disagreement of civilized minds. Bush's certainties are dangerous. But so is the moral equivalency of the left, the kind that during the Cold War could not see the crimes of communism, and now seems ready to equate the conservative leadership of a great democracy with dictatorship.

…the leftist Respect coalition represented in the British Parliament by George Galloway had this to say about Iraq:

"The resistance in Iraq is engaged in a battle to liberate the country. The Iraqi resistance deserves the support of the international antiwar movement."

That's a call for the mass of European pacifists to back the beheading brigade, the child-bombers and other fundamentalist loonies who want to restore the Caliphate. A call made in the name of defeating what Galloway and his ilk see as the greater evil, the United States.
Fortunately, in the face of such hysteria, an expression of moderate sanity has emerged over the past year. Precisely because of its sanity, it has received too little attention.

I refer to the Euston Manifesto (, published last March by a group of mainly left-of-center thinkers, and the supporting statement called American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto, published by U.S. intellectuals in September.

… The Euston Manifesto says: "We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking."

It also declares: "Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the antiwar movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there no opponents on the left."

It states: "We stand against all claims to a total — unquestionable or unquestioning — truth."

It supports a global "responsibility to protect" — the principle of armed intervention in a state where the slaughter and torture of citizens is rampant.

On Iraq, it has this to say: "We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize the overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people."
The proper concern of the left after Saddam's overthrow should have been "the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order" rather than "picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention."

The manifesto observes that: "The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the left to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess." …

They deplore the tendency on the left to substitute hatred of Bush for thought about fighting jihadism. Why, they ask, is the left more incensed by America's errors in Iraq than "terrorist outrages by Islamic extremists?"
They note: "In World War II and the Cold War, liberals, centrists and conservatives found moments of commonality. Indeed, if those efforts had been borne exclusively by the left or the right they very well might have failed."

…If you're tired of sterile screaming in the wilderness, tired of the comfortably ensconced "hindsighters" poring over every American error in Iraq, tired of facile anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism, try the Euston road in 2007. It might actually lead somewhere.

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