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Once Again on the Beinart Question

I don't want to give this dispute more attention than it really deserves, but I did want to flag this excellent piece by David Corn commenting on Beinart's now-notorious argument that the Democrats' main task is to rid the party of those allegedly "soft" on the totalitarian terrorist threat. Corn concludes (rightly in my view):

Beinart, seeking an idealistic guiding principle for liberalism in the 21st century, writes, “Islamic totalitarianism—like Soviet totalitarianism before it—threatens the United States and the aspirations of millions across the world. And, as long as that threat remains, defeating it must be liberalism's north star.” But this is a simplistic formula for liberalism. And history is not as strong a guide as he suggest. Some of the ADAers and their favored John Kennedy (whom Beinart holds up as a role model) followed their north star right into Vietnam. Islamic extremism is indeed a threat to Americans and others. It should be addressed—smartly and vigorously. (A new Marshall Plan? Sure.) But, alas, there is much else going on in the world and at home. And a fixation with the war in Iraq—which does undermine the effort against global Islamic jihadism—is not misplaced; it is appropriate. In fact, it can be a sign that one is serious about dealing with the threat from Islamic extremism. Beinart ought to recognize that rather than propose a loyalty test for a decent left. The ADAers he cherishes excommunicated far-leftists who adhered to an ideology they opposed. Almost six decades later, Beinart advocates shunning leftists who do not share his priorities or who do not voice sufficient enthusiasm for a war on terrorism that Bush unfortunately has largely discredited. That’s not a very liberal attitude.

And, if you're up for yet more discussion, Josh Marshall has a characteristically judicious assessment of the problems with Beinart's argument over at Talking Points Memo.


Iraq was a distraction and there other better ways - diplomacy, economic aid, buildng communities - to fight the war on terrorism

I answer Beinart in my article on my blog at http://www.learningfountain.com/blog/archives/00000418.htm.

George Will loved Bienert's article. He loves TNR. When you make Republicans so happy - doesn't say something? There are some talented people at TNR and the DLC - but their leadership is tanking it.

I'm happy I cancelled my subscription.

I thought Beinart made some good points, but he didn't quite wade into the question as to whether someone can still be a hard and against the Iraq invasion. I think the answer is a resounding yes, and if so, the debate really needs to be between what I've been calling the "hard-smarts" and the "hard-stupids."

Vietnam was hard-stupid then and Iraq is hard-stupid now. Afghanistan was hard-smart. A Marshall Plan Redux for the middle east would be hard-smart. Increasing anti-terrorist special forces would be hard-smart. Diverting money and energy spent dealing with drug interdiction to deal with terrorism would be hard-smart. Etc etc.

It's easy to have 20/20 hindsight, but I sure wish this has been what Kerry's campaign had been about.