Friday, July 15, 2005


The latest salvo from Victor Davis Hanson contains the usual chest-pounding and poop-throwing. Hanson is quite good at distilling the dominant conservative War on Terror hogwash and gathering it in one place, the better for us to examine and dismiss. Hanson's whole argument here, such as it is, amounts to a series of tendentious, misleading non-sequiturs, and the vigorous hacking of strawmen. I'll stick to the most egregious ones, otherwise I'd be here all day.

Hanson claims that, in the Leftist "mythology, the attack on September 11 had in some vague way something to do with American culpability." There are very few at this point who deny that U.S. foreign policy was a factor in the rise of transnational jihadism. Richard Perle, not noted for leftism, has recognized that the U.S. is "in a sense, paying a price" for it's support if Arab authoritarian regimes during the Cold War. The U.S.'s role in supporting the Afghan-Arab mujahedeen against the Soviets, and the great extent to which that contributed to the Islamic fundamentalist phenomenon, is well known. Recognizing these facts is of course different from suggesting that "we had it coming," or that 9/11 was an example of chickens coming home to roost, but Hanson ignores this in order to make his crude rhetorical point and paint everyone to the left of him as a Ward Churchill.

Responding to the charge that the U.S. "unfairly tilt[s]" toward Israel, Hanson writes:
Prior to 9/11, the United States had given an aggregate of over $50 billion to Egypt, and had allotted about the same amount of aid to Israel as to its frontline enemies.

I'm very curious where Hanson got these numbers from, because he's only off by about $123 billion. In his defense, he's not a math professor. From the Christian Science Monitor:
Adjusting the official aid to 2001 dollars in purchasing power, Israel has been given $240 billion since 1973, Stauffer reckons. In addition, the US has given Egypt $117 billion and Jordan $22 billion in foreign aid in return for signing peace treaties with Israel.

"Consequently, politically, if not administratively, those outlays are part of the total package of support for Israel," argues Stauffer in a lecture on the total costs of US Middle East policy, commissioned by the US Army War College, for a recent conference at the University of Maine.

More Hanson:
Two thirds of al Qaeda’s command is now captured or dead; bases in Afghanistan are lost. Saddam’s intelligence will not be lending expertise to anyone and the Baghdad government won’t welcome in terrorist masterminds.

Quite right, now it's only the rest of Iraq's Sunni Triangle which welcomes terrorist masterminds. Good show.

And you can't have a Hanson column that doesn't decry leftist "moral equivalence":
For the hard Left there is no absolute right and wrong since amorality is defined arbitrarily and only by those in power.

Taking back Fallujah from beheaders and terrorists is no different from bombing the London subway since civilians may die in either case. The deliberate rather than accidental targeting of noncombatants makes little difference, especially since the underdog in Fallujah is not to be judged by the same standard as the overdogs in London and New York. A half-dozen roughed up prisoners in Guantanamo are the same as the Nazi death camps or the Gulag.

What's that you say? Taking back Fallujah? Not so fast, Vic.

Hanson's vilely dismissive comment about "half-dozen roughed up prisoners in Guantanamo" is quite typical of the way conservatives have downplayed both the extent of the abuse of detainees and the horrible effects that reports of that abuse have had in the Arab and Islamic world. He simply doesn't get it, or doesn't care to.

It should be obvious that it is Hanson and his type who are in fact promulgating a myth, one in which Bush has made the hard choices and walked a lonely path of bravery while the Democrats and Euroweenies jealously bit at his ankles. This mythology mistakes stubbornness for steadfastness, political utility for moral clarity, and refuses to admit the tragic state of affairs in Iraq and of the United States' reputation in the region, both of which can be traced directly to inexplicably foolish decisions undertaken by President Bush and his gang.

Hanson would have us believe that there are only two ways to combat terrorism: The Way of Bush, or the Way of Appeasement. The only way for him to justify the former is to completely mischaracterize and misrepresent the latter.

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