August 24, 2002


The Loyal Opposition (BILL KELLER, August 24, 2002, NY Times)
The last time America dispatched soldiers in the cause of "regime change," less than a year ago in Afghanistan, the opposition was mostly limited to the people who are reflexively against the American use of power. There were pundits who whispered "quagmire" and allies whose applause for the effort was one-handed, but the outright opposition came from isolationists, the doctrinaire left and the soft-headed types Christopher Hitchens described as people who, "discovering a viper in the bed of their child, would place the first call to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals."

These fringes are again aroused against intervention in Iraq, but the chorus this time is much bigger. This time the casus belli is murkier, resting not on the harboring of mass murderers but on the novel (for America) doctrine of pre-emption, and on a threat whose urgency may be unknowable. This time the potential for something going badly wrong is far greater. Iraq is different, moreover, because much more clearly than Afghanistan it is not a war of containment but a war to radically alter the status quo — both by removing a menace to civilization and, though this goal is undeclared, by creating a pocket of democracy in a region where democracy is an unsettling prospect to many of our friends, let alone our adversaries.

This time, therefore, reluctance flourishes in the heart of the establishment, if the establishment can be said to have a heart.

From its title, which fairly begs to be read sarcastically, to its dismisssal of those who opposed the Afghan War to its questioning of the business interests that might make a guy like Brent Scowcroft oppose action against Saddam, this is the most virulently pro war piece we're likely to see from a NY Times employee, other than Safire, who doesn't count. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 24, 2002 10:11 AM
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