The Moral Emptiness of the Left

Life consists of choices, and no choice is graver than war or peace. The 9/11 assault on New York City and Washington, D.C. posed such a choice. Should we go to war against bin Laden and the Taliban? The answer had to be "Yes" or "No." Those who deny that the President of the United States was confronted with that choice are not morally serious. They do not live in this world.

In the days after 9/11 it was clear that no criminal prosecution could work, because the Taliban baldly lied to the world about hiding al Qaeda and bin Laden. Thus the only choices for the United States were to do nothing, or to change the Taliban regime to get at al Qaeda. Doing nothing would have rendered us more of a target.  Thus the war in Afghanistan was the moral choice to make —— indeed, the only moral choice. The alternative to fighting and killing —— remember, this is the real world —— was helplessness.

In this world, helpless superpowers are just shark bait. We fought, and we were right to fight.

Once the Taliban were thrown out, the Administration faced another hard choice. Two hateful regimes were known to support the kind of terrorism that endangered this country. Dealing with them was going to be much more difficult. Saddam Hussein's regime was so thoroughly permeated by lies and fear among its own denizens that gaining clear intelligence was simply impossible. Certainty about Saddam's WMDs was just as illusory as certainty about the exact nature of his relationship with al Qaeda. Even insiders to Saddam's hall of mirrors were kept in ignorance — that's how he ruled, by sowing confusion, terror and lies.

Yet no sane person could doubt that Saddam had terrorist connections, and that he tried to get his hands on nukes as far back as the late 1970s, when his first nuclear reactor was built by the French. So the question had to be faced: Is Afghanistan enough? Or should we also knock down Saddam?

Now this is the real world —— not the dream world of those who believe they know all the answers.  The United States faced another agonizing choice, where every avenue had its risks. Knocking over Saddam was full of danger and a failure to act was also dangerous. Passivity wouldn't fix this. Pacifism wouldn't solve it. You had to do something or get off the pot. Either way you could be wrong.

The idea that the Administration twisted intelligence about Saddam is grotesque —— because US intelligence has never been able to pinpoint hidden WMDs. On nukes the CIA has been consistently wrong, ever since it was stunned by Stalin's atmospheric nuclear explosions in the 1950s. Stalin had spies like Klaus Fuchs high in the Manhattan Project, simply stealing our bomb designs. The Soviets could therefore build their nukes much faster than we expected.

That's the record: The CIA failed to pinpoint WMD programs in the case of Stalin and Mao, and decades later with Libya, North Korea, India, Pakistan, Iraq, and now presumably Iran. Who needs to twist intelligence if it won't tell you anything anyway? It is pure delirium from the fever swamps, and of course it evades what adults know all too well: that we are forced as moral actors to make choices in the face of unavoidable gaps in our knowledge. Harvard Business School calls it decision—making under conditions of uncertainty. Or as Joan Rivers used to say, 'Oh, grow up!'

Our top decision makers therefore have to act in the absence of perfect knowledge. The inherent uncertainty about WMDs set the pattern for the Cold War. That is why Mutually Assured Destruction became a necessity: because we could not predict a massive ICBM attack and act to prevent it. Kremlinologists used to try to read the latest power—shifts in Moscow by looking at news photos of Breznhev's pudgy apparatchiks in their fur hats and greatcoats, waving from the top of Lenin's Tomb. That became a joke during the Cold War because they always got it wrong.

Well, here we are again.  Uncertainty applies just as much to Islamofascist threats. Everything we do (or fail to do) involves gambles. And as much as the higher—ups of the CIA deserve criticism for constantly back—stabbing the Bush Administration, they cannot be blamed for failing to penetrate what Winston Churchill called "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." No intelligence agency can simply use magic to pull reliable facts from a welter of imponderables. It hasn't been done. It probably can't be done. You certainly can't bet your country on it.

The Left, the media, and the Democrats are still steeped in denial of those simple, stubborn facts. Maybe reality is just too frightening for them. Whatever it is, to live in such denial is to surrender any claim to moral seriousness. It utterly disqualifies one to be a decision maker. We can thank our lucky stars that Bush, Blair and Cheney are adults.

So we are left with the Cheney Criterion: If there is a one percent chance that leaving Saddam in power would subject the West to nuclear terrorism, we would choose to change his bloody regime. The US and UK acted in the full knowledge that we might be wrong about our facts about a closed regime —— and if we were, we would be screamed at for years and years by the International Left —— the New York Times, the WaPo, KozKidz, the Guardian, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and all the yellow bellies in Europe.

Bush, Blair and Cheney did not have the luxury of pretending that hard choices can be wished away. That is what Harry Truman meant about the buck stopping here, in the Oval Office.   

The greatest disappointment since 9/11/01 has been the total moral vacuity of the Left —— a complete and utter nullity —— both here and in Europe. Today, five years later, psychological denial still rules the day, and the few Democrats who raise their heads above the screaming mob are chased out, like Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller.

One—third of American voters are still being suckered by the left—wing media, who live in some sort of Toon—Town where you can Have your Cake and Eat it Too, where Lunches are Free and Health Care is Too, and where there are no ideological killer movements in this world, and to achieve World Peace you just have to point your finger at the "Warmongers" and scream really loud. The Left is now populated by "mewling, puking infants," as William Shakespeare put it, utterly lacking an understanding of the world as it is.

It is a sad sight to behold. We need unity, not denial. As it is, the Left has become a Fifth Column, fighting the civilized world and busily explaining away danger. The New York Times can get away with sabotaging our fight for survival against the worst fascist movement since you—know—who. The Left is even descending to Nazi slogans and scapegoating Jews. A generation ago, who would have believed it?

Yet the world keeps moving. Yesterday's decisions are past, and we have to live with their consequences.  It is five years since the outrages of 9/11. The elected Iraqi government has Saddam on trial in Baghdad, but Iran is speeding toward nuclear weapons. For almost three decades the Mullahs have been shouting "Death to Israel! Death to America!" at the top of their lungs ——— ever since a feckless Jimmy Carter allowed Khomeini to take over the geostrategic fulcrum of ancient Persia.

And liberals are still telling us that Tehran doesn't really mean it. How do they know that?

In the loudmouth department Ahmadinejad even out—does Saddam.  The AP just quoted him as saying:

'You must bow down to the greatness of the Iranian nation ... If you do not return to monotheism and worshipping god and refuse to accept justice then you will burn in the fire of the nations' fury', Ahmadinejad said.

'I officially announce that Iran has joined the world's nuclear countries."

We can forget about national unity in facing Tehran, too. The demented Left will never understand that we must make our choices —— again —— with gaps in our knowledge.  Because the Mullahs are expert at psychological warfare —— lying —— we will not know what decisions are right for a long time. All we know for sure is that the mewling, puking infants of the Left will blame any adults in sight, for the anxieties of having to live in the real world.

And yet, who would choose to put the screaming infants in charge?

James Lewis is a frequent contributor to The American Thinker.

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