March 15, 2007

Peter Beinart’s Hardworking Straw Men

As we have mentioned before, this humble “weblog” subscribes to numerous magazines. You know, the typical intellectual fare: Cat Fancy, Black Hair-Care, The American Conservative. But few magazines give us greater joy than The New Republic, America’s sane left-leaning political weekly.

Or, we should say, fortnightly. As was recently announced, The New Republic is currently undergoing some changes, and, amongst other things, will now appear twice per month. Frankly, dear reader, the announcement of this change marked the firs time that we knew the publication schedule of TNR; the magazine appears at our doorstep with such studied irregularity that, to our minds, it could have either been a daily or a quarterly.

In fact, by the time the good ole’ TNR appears at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly” Headquarters, its article feature such pressing issues as “Trial and Error: The Liberal Case for Letting Dick Cheney’s Hatchet Man Walk” (too late) and “Does Robert Taft Condone the Killing of Field Mice?” (way too late).

Still, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” must say that we thoroughly enjoyed taking in the March 5 & 12 number of TNR. Among other delights, it carries “A Different Country,” Peter Beinart’s self-declared final “TRB” column.

In said piece, Mr. Beinart hems and haws about his erstwhile support for the liberation of Iraq. (Nowadays, he deeply regrets this stance, having moved on to vociferously supporting interventionism in Darfur. There’s no word yet on when he’ll dramatically recant from that position.)

Mr. Beinart’s reason for his previous support for the Iraq War? As he puts it, “because Kanan Makiya did.” Mr. Makiya, you see, is an Iraqi exile who urged the United States to dethrone Saddam Hussein, and this, apparently, drove Mr. Beinart to support Saddam’s ouster. Yeah: Blame the Arab.

But Mr. Beinart’s admission—which strikes us as simplified to the point of fatuity—didn’t draw our attention. Rather, this passage seemed more noteworthy:

In deadly earnest, he [Makiya] was asking the United States to become what that South African exile could not even contemplate without laughing: a revolutionary democratic power. For Makiya’s neoconservative allies, the idea was intuitive: In their air-brushed narrative, that’s what the United States had always been.

Uh, gee, Mr. Beinart: Make any straw men recently? The neoconservatives offer an “air-brushed narrative” of American foreign policy that makes the US into “a revolutionary democratic power”? Exactly which neoconservative writers have you been reading?

Now, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” aren’t senior fellows at the Council on Foreign Relations, but we think we know far more about neoconservatism than fancy-pants Mr. Beinart.

Had Mr. Beinart troubled himself to read a few basic books on neoconservative foreign policy, he would learn that their “hard Wilsonian” marks a break in American foreign relations. As the neoconservatives describe it, their movement amounts to a great shift in American policy—a policy that formerly, in the Middle East especially, was fond of coddling dictators and thugs, provided they offered some ephemeral “stability.”

According to this non-air-brushed narrative, the US has made some grave mistakes in cozying up to odious Middle Eastern tyrants—mistakes that Mr. Beinart, now in full apology mode for his stance on Iraq, would like to repeat.

Too bad this amounted to Mr. Beinart’s last “TRB” column: Just think of all the straw men he could have offered in a handful more.

Posted at March 15, 2007 12:01 AM | TrackBack