It is impossible not to listen to Joe Lieberman, both during his campaign
and since, and not be convinced that he is
sincere. He refers to his pro-war position as having a "robust" foreign
Here are some of his more vivid quotes:
"I'm worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don't
appreciate the seriousness of the threat to
American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us -- more evil or
as evil as Nazism and probably more
dangerous than the Soviet communists we fought during the long Cold War,"
"If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date
certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory
by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched
in England. It will strengthen them and
they will strike again."
"How the heck can we be in a battle in which we are fighting as Democrats
and Republicans against each other when
these terrorists certainly don't distinguish based on party affiliation?
They want to kill any and all of us."
"What we are fighting for in Iraq and around the world is freedom. What we
are fighting against is an Islamic terrorist
totalitarian movement which is as dire a threat to individual liberty as
the fascist and communist totalitarian threats
we faced and defeated were in the last century."
When Dick Cheney says things like this we suspect that he may be cynical
and manipulative, that he's waving the
bloody flag for political advantage and since the Republican Party runs
well on fear, then fear it will be.
Joe - and I don't think I'm being too generous - doesn't seem that outright
cynical. Nor does he seem to be a
madman. He's just ... 'reality challenged.' He's been living in rhetoric land
too long. Or he's got a genetic disposition
to see the world in bi-polar apocalyptic terms. He's not alone. Lots of
people are there with him.
But really, to say that we are in Iraq as part of a fight against an
Islamic terrorist totalitarian movement is... reality
challenged. Saddam Hussein was our guy because he was a secularist. Because
he stood up to Iran and suppressed
Islam in his own country. Who knows why we invaded Iraq. The people who led
the invasion were clearly not telling
valid reasons. We don't know if they were lying - and therefore had other
secret reasons - or if they were simply
confused, or they were... reality challenged.
This is not meant to trivialize the problem. Rather, I think, it leads to
an important insight. Even if you think of
Cheney as an evil, authoritarian, crypto-fascist puppet master, or if you
think of Bush as a smiling, dry alcoholic with
sadistic tendencies, the question remains, why would they pursue policies
that were pretty obviously doomed to
Let me name just three. That 'taking out' Saddam Hussein would lead to a
bucolic, happy, dancing democracy. That
encouraging real democracy in Palestine would not lead to the election of
an even more radical and more Islamic
government. Then thinking that the way to deal with it, was to try to
starve the people to death.
Whatever their ambitions are and however ruthless they are and however
amoral we might think they are, surely,
successes would have been better - for them - than failures. Unless, they
really thought the world would operate in
different ways than it does. Unless they thought their dream world - take
out Saddam, girls throw flowers at the
troops, a democratic government is elected, it's friendly and secular, it
sells all the state enterprises to private
companies for a vast free market experiment with no taxes on the rich, the
rest of the Middle East is so swept away
with admiration that they all convert to the neo-con way, the world happily
sings the praises of the New American
Century and Bush-Cheney go down in history as the saviors of us all - that
all that would actually follow from
Rumsfeld's discount theory of warfare and occupation lite. Unless, in
short, they were ... reality challenged.
It's not hard to be reality challenged. The reality challenged people are
running the government. They convinced
virtually all of our media that their view of the world was real. They got
plenty of voters to vote for them. It was a
disability that crossed party lines.
Nobody stood up for reality. We've had to wait for reality to stand up for
itself. Which it's doing. But that's the most
painful way to go about things.