Conservative bloggers go to war over a recent op-ed by George Will. They also bridle at news that the U.S. and Britain are giving Israel a week to finish off Hezbollah and lament the grim new stats on the postwar Iraqi death toll.
Will power: Calling the neoconservatives the most radical gang in town, Washington Post columnist George Will has sparked (yet another) mini civil war among the online right this week. He reserves special scorn for the neocon journal of record Weekly Standard, whose advocacy of revolutionary ferment in the Middle East he sees as reckless and destabilizing. Some agree with him, while others bash his isolationism.
Conservative-libertarian attorney Doug Mataconis at Below the Beltway thinks Will socks it to the hawks: “The repurcussions of American military action against Iran right now would be serious, and I somehow doubt that they would be quite as healthy as Bill Kristol makes them out to be. More importantly, where does Kristol propose we take the forces that would be needed in any action against Iran.”
Neoconservative Weekly Standard contributor Hugh Hewitt has an unsurprising objection to the Will column, particularly the section calling for Cold War-style “containment” of Islamist regimes. “Will is so engaged in harumpphing about the Weekly Standard neocons … that he confuses the situation today with that of post-war Europe rather than pre-war Europe,” Hewitt writes. “Stalin could be deterred from the use of nukes (though never proxies). Hitler could be deterred from nothing because of his messianism, a messianism he shares with Ahmadinejad along with a hatred for Jews.”
Andrew Sullivan, who still supports regime change despite the way it’s been carried out, has qualified praise for Will. “To be perfectly honest, although I agree that Bill Kristol’s call for yet another war has a whiff of the unhinged about it, I’m not so fond of the containment record in the Middle East of the past fifty years. It’s hard to ‘contain’ non-state actors, fueled by religious fervor, operating from the safe-houses of patron rogue-regimes, with potential access to WMDs,” he writes.
Confessional righty Eric Johnson at Catholic Light doesn’t like Will’s “high-church Episcopalian” tendencies, which include “haughtiness” and “snobbery.” As for the editorial content, Johnson sallies: “Will doesn’t bother to refute the Standard’s premise that Iran is driving much of the murder and mayhem throughout the Middle East. It’s like writing in 1983 that the actions of Nicaragua, East Germany, and North Korea had nothing to do with the Soviet Union—or that the Soviets were largely irrelevant.”
Read more on Will’s editorial.
On the 7th day, they’ll rest: According to liberal British newspaper The Guardian, Washington and Whitehall have both quietly given Israel another week to finish their rout of Lebanese terrorist group/political faction Hezbollah. At a time when the rest of the world is calling for a brokered cease-fire, bloggers see this accorded wiggle room for continued warfare as cynical foreign policy.
Centrist Michael Stickings at The Moderate Voice comments: “Perhaps this American ‘green light,’ if there is one, doesn’t matter much to Israel. But I would suggest otherwise. … This may go on for another week or until the two soldiers are returned or even for longer if Hezbollah continues to attack Israel with missiles designed to inflict civilian casualties. But I predict that Israel will roll back its offensive before the conflict expands into some sort of international conflagration.”
At Office of the Independent Blogger, liberal Democrat Gregory Royal Pratt grudgingly accepts the week’s free pass. “I think that a one-week window of retaliation is defensible, although the war instantly spun out of control as soon as Israel decided to destroy Lebanon’s infrastructure,” he writes. “If it is just a ‘one week window,’ then at least we know that the offensive onslaught of Israel will be over soon. Not soon enough, though.”
At One Hand Clapping, Donald Sensing, a former speechwriter to the Secretary of the Army, guesses “that the US is providing a torrent of intelligence information—mostly signals and reconnaissance visual information—to Israel.”
Read more about the Guardian’s report.
The Iraqi dead: The U.N. issued a report Wednesday claiming that 14,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq this year. Cyberspace is solemn despite insistence from some corners that this is still an improvement on Saddam’s regime.
Paris-based Chris at lefty AmericaBLOG asks: “How can anyone even think of claiming that Iraq is moving in the right direction? When are we going to see one of the ‘things are improving’ folks telling us how great things are from Iraq instead of TV offices in the US? Even if you take the best case scenario of killings, it’s an ugly situation.”
Daniel Freedman of the conservative New York Sun’s It Shines For All notes that Saddam killed more Iraqis per year than have died from war-related causes since his fall. “And of course the bigger difference is that these deaths are unfortunate consequences of freeing the country from tyranny. Saddam’s killings were to maintain that tyranny,” Freedman adds.
Read more about the Iraqi death toll.