2005/05/07

Simplicity vs Nuance

This is the concluding paragraph for a blog post:

This is the logic of the left, aided and abetted by large parts of the MSM, Academia, and the Democratic Party. While they will accuse the Republicans and Bush of doing exactly what I just described, their logic fails when it can not encompass 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq elections, 3/11, the Cedar revolution, and so much more.


Well, I guess if one takes a mindlessly simplistic, "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror." sort of view then this might make some sense. As it is, it reveals the writer's complete ignorance of what the Left has been saying. Just the other day, I corresponded with a right-winger and referred him to an article by John Nichols of The Nation reprinted in Common Dreams (This website reprints articles as more-or-less straight text without any logging-in needed or any advertisements to distract readers, so it makes a very good source to refer people to.) and his answer made it very clear that he hadn't read the article. The second paragraph of the article reads:


Blair's Labour party is unlikely to be voted out of office in Thursday's voting, in part because the main opposition party – the Conservatives – also supported the war, and in part because a third of the Labour Party's members of parliament opposed Blair's efforts to sign Britain on for Bush's war.


So what does my correspondent say in response to my assertion that Bush lied to get America into the Iraq War?


I'm sure you realize that your's is a minority view.

Bush won reelection rather handily & in spite of all the lib press constantly telling us of how Blair is unpopular cause of his Bush support; now he is favored to also win reelection. Therefore your conclusion that the British believe Bush & Blair lied is just so much more lib unsubstantiated rhetoric.

So when I present an article that substantiates my rhetoric, that article goes unread and uncommented on and I and all liberals are accused of making charges without backing them up!

The idea that somehow lefties, liberals and progressives have somehow failed to explain how evil people carried out 9-11 AND to have explained how the Bush Administration has lied to the American people time and time again reveals a Manichean, black-and-white, with-us-or-against-us type of thinking. According to the Left, it's entirely possible for America to be attacked by evil terrorists AND for our president to be dissembling and fudging the facts and spinning and lying and covering up.

The World War II analogy that I came up with before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 for how the Iraqi people were likely to view an invasion was that of Ukraine 1941-1944. Stalin treated the citizens of the Ukraine horribly during the 1930s, with “collectivization” policies killing off millions of Ukrainians. When the Nazis invaded in 1941, many Ukrainians welcomed them and fought alongside them to help free their country. But Ukrainians soon realized that the Nazis were intent upon forcing the entire Slavic population into slavery and forcing them all to be cheap labor from them. Accordingly, by 1944 when the Soviet Red Army was sweeping across the steppes on their way to Berlin, many Ukrainians had by then concluded that the invaders were no better than “The devil you know...” so they went ahead and enlisted with the Red Army to drive out the foreigners. As we've seen, this analogy is quite relevant to the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Americans are by no means as bad as the Nazis were and there don't seem to be any plans to enslave Iraqis, but Iraqis have made the nationalistic choice to support their own countrymen against the invaders. That doesn't mean Iraqis look back on Saddam Hussein as a great leader, but neither do they see Americans as honored liberators. The Iraqi resistance has been getting stronger and stronger with no American victory in sight.

The black-and-white, good-guys-vs-bad-guys view was simply not relevant to the Ukraine during World War II and, as we've seen during the last two-plus years, is not relevant to the Iraq War either. Viewing the situation requires, as John Kerry was accused of doing, the use of “nuance”.

As to the merits of the blog post that I originally referred to, Juan Cole writes a piece that explains:


President Bush and his supporters are taking credit for spreading freedom across the Middle East. But where changes are genuinely occurring they have nothing to do with the U.S. invasion of Iraq.


Cole credits democratic changes with actually happening and says those are a good thing. But Cole describes these as phenomenon that are independent of, and have no relevance to the Iraq War. Of course, Cole is a “nuanced” commentator who today examines the possibilities of Iran getting a nuclear device. He concludes that it's quite likely that will happen while very clearly not suggesting that that would be a good thing.

I would suggest that it's simply not possible to take a back-and-white view AND to interpret reality correctly. Interpreting reality requires nuance. Repeating Republican talking points requires merely the ability to speak.

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