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April 17, 2005
MY EARLIER POST ON HISTORICAL REVISIONISM drew this response from columnist Sylvester Brown of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, whom I criticized in the earlier post. Brown, however, tries to play tag by suggesting that maybe I missed Bush's talk about WMDs.
No -- but unlike Brown, I never said that I couldn't recall Bush ever raising the issue. The difference is that to Bush critics, WMDs were all that mattered, while I favored the idea of turning the Middle East upside down and shaking, hard. Which we've done, and which, as even Brown grudgingly admits, seems to have done some good.
He concludes with several tired lefty tropes:
This is a country that 40 years ago restricted the right to vote, use public facilities or eat in restaurants to some of its citizens. It's a country with a long-standing record of supporting autocratic regimes and dictatorships and overthrowing democratically elected government officials around the world.
When did the United States become the chief exporter of democracy to the Arab world?
Sorry, bloggers. When it comes to regime change and nation-building, I can't follow the wisdom of Bush and his crew. I lean more toward the words of a real straight shooter, Mohandas Gandhi:
"The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within."
The difference is, the United States didn't give the Iraqis the spirit of democracy. As they demonstrated on January 30, it was already there. We just cleared the way -- something that would never have happened if Brown had gotten his druthers. And it seems to me that the gravamen of Brown's point is that the United States is so morally deficient that it could hardly be credited with doing good on purpose.
I'm glad he's wrong about that, too.
UPDATE: Hazen Dempster emails: "It is important to realize that a large part of Gandhi's success was due to the fact that he was opposing the British, who don't deal with political opponents by killing them. An Iraqi Gandhi wouldn't have lasted long under Saddam." Indeed.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Howard Greene adds:
If the Palestinians had followed Gandhi I think they would have had their state in 1970. The Israelis would have had a hard time opposing them while at the same time they would have proved they could live next door in peace. Yet in the context where the Gandhi approach would work, the left "Gandhi Admirers" were sympathetic to the terrorists inclined to lynch a Palestinian Gandhi (and I suspect did lynch or assassinate several).
Meanwhile, reader C.J. Burch emails: "Every time I grow tired of the Republicans a lefty opens his mouth, suddenly I'm not quite as tired."
Indeed, again. And reader Timothy Morris emails: "Harry Turtledove had an excellent short story, 'The Last Article,' about how Gandhi would have fared in a Nazi occupied India. It's a short story. Both in context and content."
Yes, I read that. Some of the Nazis feel slightly guilty about killing him and his followers.
MORE: A couple of readers think that I'm making too much of the democracy thing, since we only went into Iraq as part of the war on terror.
That's true of course -- but it's precisely the Bush doctrine's connection of democracy-promotion with anti-terrorism that the left's tedious obsession with WMDs is intended to deny -- because, of course, it's a connection that the left used to make, until it appeared that doing so might help a Republican.
And, finally, reader Michael Grant sends this quote from Martin Luther King:
If your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi. But if you enemy has no conscience, like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer.
Grant asks: "Now consider: MLK chose nonviolence to advance his cause. What does that say, then, about his beliefs about his opponent?"
I guess he had a higher opinion of America, and Americans, than does Mr. Brown.
MORE: Still more reasons why Gandhi is a poor role model for Mr. Brown.